It's very strange thinking that I'm leaving for Germany on Monday -- strange mostly because I'm not feeling the mix of emotions that would seem normal when staring down the beginning of a year abroad. When I studied abroad in Germany, it was both my first time in Germany and my first time abroad -- I was so excited and scared and nervous and hopeful because it was all just so new and unfamiliar, and I had no idea what to expect.
This time around, I have a good idea what to expect. I'm not particularly worried about getting from the airport in Frankfurt to the train station, having been through them multiple times. Plus, my roommate from Fulda is meeting me at the airport, which will help things go even more smoothly, especially once I arrive in Fulda. The impact of feeling relatively confident in knowing what to expect means that rather than feeling particularly nervous or excited, I'm feeling more overwhelmed with all the things that I know need to get done in a relatively short period of time.
My first two weeks in Europe will be a whirlwind. I'm arriving in Germany on Tuesday, August 20, and between then and Friday I will attempt to do things like:
- Register my address (my journey through German bureaucracy begins!)
- Open a bank account (but only once I complete the above)
- Purchase a new sim card for my phone, assuming the unlocking process works as expected
- Purchase basic essentials, like bedding, towels, etc.
- Visit the school I will be working at, finalize a work schedule and possibly meet some of the students
- Register for classes at the university
That's going to make for 3 1/2 very exhausting days.
All of this needs to be done by Friday, because Friday evening I am heading back to Frankfurt to catch a flight to Madrid, where I will spend six days with Maggie, a good friend/former roommate from college, and Ryan, another college friend. Maggie has been living in Madrid for a year and a half attending grad school, and Ryan is flying to Madrid from Milwaukee. I have never been to Spain before, so I am very excited.
I get back from Madrid the evening of Aug. 29, a Thursday. I'll then have a couple days to rest up in Fulda before heading to Köln on Sunday, Sept. 1. There I will meet up with other Fulbrighters in advance of our orientation, which begins on the following Monday and lasts three full days. Finally, I will return to Fulda on Sept. 5, ready to start my new, "normal" life.
I'm not so overconfident as to think that everything will go according to plan and that I won't struggle at any stage of the transition process -- I know things will go wrong, offices will be closed, I'll fill out a form incorrectly and my German will fail me on more than one occasion. My prior experience with Germany has not prepared me for a seamless transition, but I do feel like it has given me the confidence I need to face all of these challenges with a cool head and to know that eventually, everything will work itself out.
Or at least, I think it has. Check back in a week to see if Germany decides to call my bluff and really put me to the test.