This first week started out rough. The post-Juno snow storm that hit the northeast made getting to the airport a stressful task when an hour ride turned into a three hour one. Thankfully the woman at the check in desk had a heart and let me through quickly and with two overweight bags free of charge. Of course after sprinting through security my flight was delayed as soon as I arrived at my gate. The good news is that from that point on its been pretty smooth sailing.
The week has been filled with orientations about public transportation, living with hosts and traveling through Europe. While most of these sessions have been helpful, what I am most in need of is a crash course in German 101. I came into this whole abroad shebang knowing that language was going to be an huge challenge. I now believe I severely underestimated how different this place was going to be. Please don't misunderstand - I don't dislike or regret coming to Berlin, I merely mean to say I mentally prepared myself for something much different than the reality. Having studied Spanish since 7th grade I have no grasp on German. In hind sight I realize this was very obvious.
On a different note entirely, there are only 19 of us on the program which is great because the group is small enough for us all to get to know each other. However, it is a little strange with us all spread out through the city. I'm really thankful to be in a home stay - my host is a 23 year old university student who is filled with knowledge and advice for a young person in the city and has already introduced me to some of her friends. But with everyone in different neighborhoods there are definitely positives and negatives to the arrangement. Negatively, there can be a lot of alone time with everyone so spread out and since we are guests in other people's homes there isn't really a place for us to all congregate before going out or going to an event. The positive, however, is that we each get to know a different area of the city and help can spread the knowledge to our fellow abroad-ies.
Goals for next week include:
- not getting lost so frequently on public transportation (or at least not getting lost while confidently leading a group of people)
- learning some must-have German phrases
Perhaps that's the reason we don't start language classes until the second week - after a week of wandering around we're all desperately ready to learn how to say more than "halo" and "danke schön".
Wish me luck because I have a feeling I'm going to need it.
Stay funky folks.