Nothing could’ve prepared me for my first day in Germany. For the past month, I have been slowly but surely getting everything ready for my long, 10-month, trip abroad, including getting my phone ready for a German SIM-card, researching which German bank to choose, figuring out what clothes are normal to wear in Germany, and watching many YouTube videos about what to expect when I arrive. After I arrived in Frankfurt, the first thing I noticed is that I did not have cell-service. I had to rely on free WIFI until I was able to find a SIM-card to buy. While I was waiting on my friend Nate to arrive, an older German guy who was talking on the phone to someone came up to me and handed me his phone without saying a word to me. Caught off-guard, I took the phone and put it to my ear. Of course, whoever was speaking (I think it was his wife), was speaking German, and I think she was trying to find his location so she could pick him up from the airport. I did my best to help, and hopefully she ended up finding him, but the whole situation was a real shock/wake-up call to me. It was the first German I spoke while in Germany.

The next stop was the train station which was conveniently located right next to the airport. When we got to the train station from the airport, we were met with a 40-minute delay. We were a little disappointed, knowing that Germans are supposed to be super punctual, but my German professor told us that Germans often make fun of the fact that their trains are never on time. Getting on the train, we had no idea where to put our bulky luggage and immediately gave the appearance to everyone on board that we were definitely not from here. Everything about us screamed “American”. The train ride was nice though. It, thankfully, had free WIFI, and we got to see much of the southern German landscape as we made the two-hour trip to our destination in Freiburg im Breisgau in Southwestern Germany.

We still had much to do when we arrived. Our place of residence is super close to the train station (about a 5–10-minute walk), but not close enough to make it convenient to carry 2 suitcases (around 85 lbs. total) and a heavy backpack. And, unfortunately, the escalator from the train station was not working either. But we finally made it to our rooms, unpacked, and took a small break before going back out to get lunch and find a SIM-card. This seemingly small task took much longer than expected and lunch quickly turned into dinner. After walking from supermarket to supermarket (occasionally getting ‘trapped’ in them since we didn’t buy anything, and they block all exits except the check-out line), being exhaust from almost 20 straight hours of travel, navigating through the endless crowds of people (there was a vaccination mandate protest going on with thousands of people participating), and doing this all without cell-service (having to jump from free WIFI, to free WIFI), we finally found the right SIM-cards.

We then made the plan to find a place to eat and set up our phones at the table. We went in a restaurant that looked good, and I was the first to order. I could tell the person taking my order was getting irritated at me as I could barely understand and communicate with him. I asked for a stay-in order, but, unknown to me at the time, if you wish to eat in any restaurant, you must show proof of vaccination. Almost all restaurants ONLY accept the EU covid pass, so, he did not accept our CDC vaccination cards and we had to wait outside for our food. As we were waiting, we looked up how to get an EU covid pass as an American (using free WIFI we found). Lucky for us, we could convert our CDC vaccination cards to the EU covid pass at a place a couple of shops down, so we got our food and went in and got the EU pass which was probably the easiest thing we did all day. When we finally had all this done, it was getting dark, and we were tired, hungry, and exhausted. We walked home with our food and ate it there. Long story short, setting up our phones was much harder than one would think and took about 30-60 minutes for me. My friend Nate couldn’t do it until the next day when we could go somewhere to get WIFI, since we can’t get WIFI in our rooms until the next Monday. Needless to say, it was a long 24+ hours. I had no trouble falling asleep, and my Fitbit told me I slept for 11 hours that night. It’s probably going to take me a couple weeks, or even months, to fully get used to life in Germany.