My First 2 Weeks in Heidelberg

Guten Tag!

Finally, I have internet set up in my room! I won’t have to go to the computer lab anymore! Already, however, I’m already somewhat used to the German keyboard, having used it three times now.

I have no idea where I should begin. It’s been nearly two weeks since I moved into my residence, International House ( which is “in” Im Neuenheimer Feld – which lit. translates as “in new home field”), and it’s been three weeks since I arrived in Germany. So, clearly there’s a lot to update!

The weather here has been quite capricious. We arrived in a sunny, 25 degrees (C) Heidelberg, only to end up with two weeks of rain. Now, I know I shouldn’t complain as I do come from a rainy Vancouver, but really, is it autumn already? I suppose it is, though I expected a longer summer in Heidelberg. Today, however, was a sunny day… that is, until the grey clouds started forming around 15.00.

My physical situation
has not been great. At all. I arrived in Germany with a very swollen toe (which I stubbed in Vancouver about 1-2 weeks prior to leaving Canada). It got so bad that I started limping around and that’s not very fun when the streets of Altstadt Heidelberg (“old town”) are all cobbled stones. Yes, they’re beautiful but not great for 1) injured feet/legs & 2) heels (esp. stilettos). Luckily my doctor gave me this amazing ointment which I rubbed on my toe everyday and now it’s much better. But just when I got my ability to run and walk quickly, I became “handicapped” again. In German, behindert. After spending about two weeks limping around, my right leg decided to complain and now I’m reduced to a tortoise-pace. Oh joy. You must understand this from a dancer‘s view: we’re practically handicapped without our legs and toes. We need to be able to move at a pace we want. We need to dance!

As for my dwelling place, International House… it certainly is one of the best residences as it is a fairly new building. In fact, it looks like an apartment building. I live in a Wohngemeinschaft (WG), which – in my case – is a 4-bedroom apartment, on the 4th floor. As the German students are still on Urlaub (vacation), this makes it pretty quiet in the building. But in a sense, not so quiet. This building echoes. You can hear it when someone (un)locks the door, shuts the door, walks down the hallway, etc. This is not good when you come home late at night. =/
My housemate is from Nigeria but will leave at the end of this month. That means there will be 3 new housemates I’ll have to meet in Oktober. My housemate has been very sweet – rather maternal – and has offered so much to me.
I must note that most of the students in this residence are graduate students. And not just graduate students but medical students. I feel like such a baby here. Being 20 entitles you to adult privileges but it certainly doesn’t make you act all grown-up like your parents. =/
My room is quite big, which provides enough space for me to practise ballet. The wardrobe reaches the ceiling and, ironically enough, I don’t have enough clothes to fill up the whole space. I could even sleep in my wardrobe! Same goes to my bookshelf. I don’t own a library so… at the moment, it’s more of a misc.-shelf.
Another wonderful thing about my room is the balcony I get. It’s quite spacious too! =) There’s a rope where I can hang my clothes (so I can save money, which is always good).

At first, I didn’t want to live in Neuenheimer Feld. It’s a 10 min. bus ride to Bismarckplatz where I have to catch #34 to get to Max-Weber-Haus (situated across from the Alte Brücke – old bridge). That takes another 5-10 min., which also depends on when the bus arrives. But today I learned that I could stay on the #32 and get off close enough to walk across the bridge. That saves a lot of time. If, however, I want to go directly to Uniplatz (the ‘main’ uni area), the whole bus ride may take about 20-30 min. This is awful if you have 8.30 classes – which I do for our immersion course – and you must be punctual. Because that’s how the Germans are. Perhaps the best part of the bus system is that 1) it’s usually punctual 2) it comes every 10 min. or 20, depending on the time & 3) the bus stop is in front of my rez.
One thing you must understand about me is that I’m a walker. I can’t drive and I haven’t ridden a bike in ages. So I was pretty disappointed that I couldn’t live in the Altstadt where I could access everything just by walking.

Complaints aside, here are my reflections about my living situation:
1) In Kingston, I had to walk everywhere. Everything was just so ‘close’ that you could walk there. That’s my student life.
2) In Vancouver, I had to rely on the bus more – esp. since I always ended up downtown for church, for work, and to hang-out.
So… it appears that I have my Vancouver-living-situation at the moment even though it’s the Kingston-one that I wanted.
There are 3 acquaintances (aside from my housemate) who live in the International House, so that’s good. As it is pretty impossible to find a place in the Altstadt, I’ll remain here for the Winter Semester. However, I’m still planning to switch into the residence in the Altstadt for the Summer Semester.

So that’s that about the “not-so-awesome” things in my life. On to something else.

Our placement test was on 2. Sept. I was nearly late for it, as I was lost/confused as to which bus to take – had not an alumnus offered to drive me to the MWH. Certainly it was risky but all was well. But it was the hardest German test I’ve ever written. I was placed in Mittelstuffe 1 (intermediate) and we began our immersion course on the 3rd. Our instructor is a professor of Deutsch als Fremdsprachenphilologie (German as a Foreign Language), which is what I shall be studying here. He is so funny and an amazing prof, but we’re sad that tomorrow’s his last day. Our class goes from 8.30 to about 13.00, with breakfast in between. This will go on ’til the 26th. Our class size is…less than 20, for sure. Everything is conducted in German of course, though just about everyone in the class understands/speaks English. That’s one pathetic thing about Heidelberg – people will always speak to you in English. It’s great if you’re a tourist though. Despite this tendency, I try my best to communicate in German – unless I get stuck because of ltd. vocabulary.

We befriend someone new everyday, we find out where they’re from, we practise yet another foreign language (in my case, I got to practise French and Spanish). And the best part is that we get to have fun! We’ve been down to the Kneipe‘s quite often (pubs) and this weekend, we’re planning to head to a Diskothek (wonder what that is in English..). The weird part about going to the pubs (or clubbing) is that there are so many youngsters (16+ year olds).

Now, here is my favourite part so far: Fussball in Deutschland.
We were in the Studentenwerk Mensa (cafeteria) last night for dinner and there was a huge screen showing the football (soccer) match between Finnland & Deutschland. It was 3:2 until Klose (#11) shot the 3rd goal for Germany in the last couple of minutes. The whole Mensa practically jumped up in applause. It was as if we were there in the stadium! And I finally found someone who fancies Fussball…i.e. Fussballspieler (football players) as much as I do. 😉 Well, for now, I’ll still be the crazier fangirl!

I’m going to leave it at that for now. This has been a very long post and I still have other things to do!

Bis später!
V