Before getting to Frankfurt and starting school, my family and I actually took a few days of Winter Break in London, Brussels, then Frankfurt. The funny thing was that we originally planned on going to Taiwan/China/Japan for our winter break till we found out I had to go to school early for German Intensive Courses, which made me sad because I missed out on so much food. I mean, I’m not saying that I regret going to Europe early, I’m just saying that I wish I could’ve gotten Taiwanese street food easily here as I could in Taiwan. Other than exploring around the three cities, there wasn’t much else for us to do during that time. Unlike the states, Europe is dead during the holidays. And I mean, completely dead. Boxing day lasted essentially from the 26th of December all the way till New Years, meaning a majority of the restaurants and shops were closed. A few shopping and attractions in London were opened, the restaurants on the main street of Brussels were light up but otherwise were quiet as a mouse, and Frankfurt was completely empty. Going to Frankfurt on New Year’s Day felt like we were walking though a post-apocalyptic scene. There were remnants of the New Year’s laying around (empty champagne bottles and fireworks) surrounded by piles of snow and empty shops. The one awesome thing about this, other than the obvious snow, was meeting another Aggie! Meeting other Aggies is common, but doing so at Europe outside of exchange programs isn’t exactly common. I vividly remember the day; my mom was talking to other hotel employees who mentioned that there was someone else from Texas working there. My family and I were interested and thought that was unique but we were in a rush so we didn’t have much time to meet her. Fortunately enough for me, I had some problem with my contacts so I had to run back in and get my glasses from upstairs. After coming back down, I noticed someone new there. I glanced and noticed that she had a sweater that said Aggies on there but I just let it go and kept going to the car outside. Then it hit me; I think that was the worker they were mentioning and who apparently is an Aggie! I told my family and ran down and started talking to her. After that I was sure that my exchange was going to be going off to a great start!

Meeting my first Aggie abroad!

It’s not European Business School, its EBS:

German Intensive course was really a blast I gotta say. I meet some great friends there, but I didn’t really learn any German. It’s like learning any other language. You gotta take things slowly and get it into your head. You have to memorize the words, the terms, the conjugations, even the tenses. But, not if classes were squeezed into five days with you learning for 8 hours a day and with each lesson thrown at you with the expectations that you’ve already learned the topic and must now know how to use it to understand it all while not reinforcing the material. Yea, that was a mouthful. Unfortunately, the teaching style wasn’t something I could’ve worked with and I ended up leaving the class with an understanding of numbers (albeit slowly), basic works (thank you and goodbye, Danke and tschuss), and an understanding of comparing German words to English words to find some similarities. The other interesting thing about EBS is their weird class schedule. I have classes I’m taking where I have the first day of said class in one week and then don’t go back to class till a whole month later. This long gap time is a blessing and a curse. It gives you time to travel but at the same time doesn’t give you enough time to travel. You CAN go on a trip to Milan, but then you really can’t with only 4 days off. So unfortunately, for the first month, I didn’t travel at all. I did decide to explore the nearby cities of Wiesbaden, Mainz, and Frankfurt.

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (Main train station) is always busy!                                              Mainz Ice Sculpture Festival.

Welcome to (South-West) Germany!:

Going the three major cities in the Frankfurt area, I can say, unfortunately, for us poor college students, there’s not all that much to really see. Mainz contains a lot of clubs, which aren’t my cup of tea, Wiesbaden is pretty big and has a nice shopping area which I’ve gone back to a lot of times, while Frankfurt is Frankfurt. It’s too big for us to see everything and too spread out for us to have the time to in a day. My roommates and I actually spent a total of three days in both Wiesbaden and Frankfurt, mind you we took the train back home every night, to get some shopping that they needed and some touring. In Frankfurt, once the shopping was done, we went straight to the Romer. Unfortunately, with it not being Christmas, the famous Romer Christmas Market wasn’t up and running. It was still a very interesting plaza and still had the grand building of the Romer standing tall. Afterwards, we went straight to the side of the Rhein River and saw the assorted bridges and took to walking parallel to the river and towards the European Central Bank. Unfortunately, with no way to go up, we decided that that was the end of our stop and we ended up crossing to the otherside of the Rhein in hopes to find anything interested before night time arrived. Unfortunately, we weren’t luck enough and had to head home. The annoying thing about living in Oestrich-Winkel, are the bus/train schedules. With only one train an hour that leaves and comes back to Oestrich, time-constraints become an issue. If you do miss the train, you can take a bus, but then have fun waiting for 40 minutes before getting back home (compared to 20). My worst story was when my friends and I went out one Friday night. We got separated and had to wait for the train at Mainz. Unfortunately, at 2 PM, the next train wasn’t till 4 PM. So I decided to take a nap in near freezing temperatures. When the train finally came, I would still have to wait for the 6:30 AM train from Wiesbaden back to Oestrich. Overall, the transportation system, even though we are fortunately enough to have it and have it included in our student fees, has been a big system of frustration for my friends and I.

Enjoying Chinese New Year Hotpot with many friends!