Week 1 - Arriving in Germany and Exploring Esslingen and Stuttgart
I have finally landed in Germany and made it safely to my destination: Esslingen am Neckar. For this blog series, I am thinking that I will try to make a post at least every couple weeks if not every week. This week has been pretty eventful so far, even though I only just got here last Wednesday.
The airplane rides to Esslingen went smoothly. I flew with Scandinavian Airlines and had a whole row of seats just to myself, so I got to take a couple extra pillows and stretch out my legs for the long 8-hour plane ride. They served a nice Scandinavian-inspired beef dish with salad and I was able to watch "Scooby-Doo, Guess Who?" on the seat screen. I also had the chance to catch a glimpse of some Northern Lights as our plane passed by Greenland! The only trouble I met along the way at the airports was when I landed in Copenhagen - we were a few minutes late and I only had a 45 minute layover. Thankfully there was no line in passport control and the airport was small enough that I could make it to my next gate with time to spare by speed-walking. I hopped on the plane to Stuttgart, landed at the airport, caught a shuttle with a friendly east German native and checked into my dormitory along the river. It was perfect timing when I got to the dorm actually, because right as I was bringing my bags in, I ran into one of my friends/fellow students from the University of Alabama and we made plans to explore Esslingen once I got checked in and got my bags up to my room. From there, we went to a photo shop to try and find a camera battery (unfortunately they didn't have a 6 volt battery), stopped by a cafe (where I had some tasty chocolate apple cake), went to the mall to shop at Galeria, and then ate dinner that night at Joe Peñas - a local mexican restaurant.
Day Two - Day Three:
The days following were mostly jam packed with orientation at the Hochschule Esslingen. We got up bright and early to get started with the information sessions. Unfortunately, on the first day of orientation, I did not realize that our Welcome Packet was placed in our mailbox the day we moved in - so I arrived with none of the required forms. Thankfully one of the leaders of the program kindly helped me, as well as another student who had the same problem, and drove me to and from the dorm. I also made friends with that other student that day! The rest of the day was just completing those forms and at the end we went as a group to the Esslinger Burg and ate at their restaurant late into the night. The following day was campus tours and figuring out how to access University Wi-Fi and printers, and working on all odds and ends such as getting a student train ticket, opening a German bank account, etc. Then I had the chance to meet up with people from the International Friends program and go to this transformed warehouse in the center of the town and ate food and played Billiards at the Metropolitan.
Day Four (Today, when I am writing this blog):
Being a Saturday, we had the whole day to do whatever we chose really. So me and a few other friends decided to explore Stuttgart. We strolled down Königsstraße and observed all of the pretty historical buildings in the main square, including the Alte Schloss. We also visited Wittwer Thalia, a four-story bookstore, and dwelled in a huge mall where we found a restaurant called Pommesfreunden that served Currywurst and Pommes. It was very tasty! After that, we strolled around Stuttgart a bit more before we decided to take the S-Bahn to the Porschplatz - home of the Porsche Museum. We saw many dazzling vehicles there, took plenty of photos and had photos taken of us inside a Porsche, and bought postcards from the gift shop. Afterwards, we returned to the Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof, and then, after a bit of confused wandering trying to figure out where to go with the construction at the train station, we finally made it back to Esslingen!