I arrived in Stuttgart, Germany on June 30 to study at the University of Hohenheim for three weeks. I must say the first day was an eventful one. Our group met with Katy Lane before we left and she gave us advice that I should have taken more seriously. I think I just assumed I would be able to figure it all out immediately, which was very dumb on my part… First off, definitely bring a towel with you, just in case your accommodation does not provide them (I used a t-shirt as a towel the first couple of nights because I could not figure out where to get towels). Another piece of advice that I failed to follow- look up the area that you are staying in and make sure to save maps on your phone before you go in case you do not have access to wifi or data. MOST IMPORTANTLY, bring meds and lots of vitamin C because you never know how your body will react in a different environment. The good thing is, there are pharmacies all over the place so if you forget something you can always stop at one close by.

Unfortunately, I was sick when I got off the plane so I did not get off to the best start. I landed in Frankfurt and took a train to the main train station in Stuttgart. The transition went well and Katarina, one of the Hohenheim students, picked me up at the train station and walked me to the hotel. From there I was on my own until classes started the next day. I settled into my room and tried to figure out what I should do with myself for the rest of the day. I decided that I was going to try to find my way around the city (this is where maps would have been very helpful). Feel free to laugh at me because I can’t help but laugh at myself looking back on it. I did not have access to internet the first day, so I just thought I would wing it.

First, I decide I am hungry. So I go to the first restaurant I come across because I am desperate and of course they speak English because everyone speaks English (no). I walk in and sit down and realize that my waiter does not know any English so I just point to something and hope it will be good.  I then ask for wine, but he brings me water (confused but okay). Luckily my food was tasty and I guess this is when the jet lack kicks in because I actually fall asleep at the table..I wasn’t out for more than a couple of minutes, but being the only person in the restaurant at the time, it was pretty embarrassing. So I immediately pay and get out as fast as possible to explore some more.

Next I decide to try to figure out the public transportation. Most of the time I took the Ubahn to get around. I decide to just get on a train and get off at a stop that other people seem to be getting off at. All I managed to do was lead myself to the middle of nowhere behind some random apartments. I would suggest having some sort of destination when doing this.. Finally some friendly guy guided me to the main station which led to all the stores and main shopping area. The rest of the day I spent walking around and trying to familiarize myself with the area. I mostly just kept going in circles and did not get very much accomplished. I ended up just going back to my room discouraged and hoping that the next day would be better because we would be meeting everyone here for the summer school. I also think the exhaustion from jet lag and being sick probably made me a little delirious.

I should probably mention that this was my first time in Europe and traveling alone. If you have any experience with this, most likely you will not run into these difficulties. If this is also your first time traveling, please do not let this freak you out because after the first day everything turned around for me. Also, I am not the best with directions in unfamiliar areas and did not take proper measures to prepare for this trip. I just wanted to share my struggles to hopefully prevent anyone else from running into these issues.

At the end of the first day, I really was wondering if I made the right choice by deciding to study abroad. Katy had warned us that it could be frustrating at first, but I was not expecting to feel this discouraged. However, to my surprise, my mindset completely turned around the second day. I got to meet the other students from all over the world and we had someone familiar with the areal showing us around. It was much more comforting to have other people to figure things out with. Over the next few days I became so comfortable in the city and decided that I would be okay here for the next three weeks.

I can’t even explain in words how wonderful my experience turned out to be, but I will give it a try in my next entry. This is my first time blogging so I hope you at least got some entertainment from my initial experiences.

-Abby Smith