As the plane nearer the ground, I looked out the window and had to keep convincing myself that it really was Europe below me. We landed at dawn just as the sun was rising over Frankfurt. I made my way through the airport and texted my parents to let them know I had safely landed. Then, I met my airport shuttle and went on the hour trip to Heidelberg. As I looked around, I began to understand why so many Germans settled in the Midwest. The surrounding landscape was a little more varied than my flat part of the US. But, if not for the cramp in my neck from sleeping weird on the plane I would have thought I had just landed in the US.
After arriving at the European Study Center, I met my RA and saw my room. How can you beat this view? I got to meet some of the other students who had arrived early. I met Hannah, another Athena student, and we realized that we both had picked Germany for Fall 2017 because of the 500th anniversary of The Reformation. After a nap, all the students met with some of the ESC staff for a tour around our area. We then walked down the beautiful Hauptstraße and had a traditional German dinner. After dinner, we all were happy to go back to the ESC and all go to bed.
Meetings kept us busy the next morning, but we had the afternoon to run errands or explore. Hannah and I went to the grocery store and made our way back to Hauptstraße. We spend most of the afternoon wandering up and down, checking out many of the shops. It was so nice to have free time to just explore. We even took some fun touristy photos that you can see the castle in.
After a long paperwork session on Thursday, we had a great dorm meeting with our RA who gave us lots of travel tips. A few of us made reservations to go to Munich in September, and we were so excited when we totaled up our cost for the whole weekend of travel was less than 60 Euro!
The next morning, we all met up with the ESC staff to tour the city and Schloss Heidelberg. We met our tour guide who was fantastic. We walked through Heidelberg, learning about the history as we walked through streets from the Middle Ages. A hike brought us up to the castle, and I mean A HIKE. But, you can’t beat the beauty and the views once you get to the top. We wandered around the castle, trying to take in all the beauty around us. After a leisurely lunch, Hannah and I picked up our passes to ride the tram for the month.
Today, it was back to the Haupstraße to pick up laundry detergent and visit the Late Brücke (Old Bridge). There were so many more people out and about today than earlier in the week. On the bridge, we had a beautiful view of Heidelberg all around us. We stopped to hear to the street performer who was singing “Brown Eyed Girl.” He thanked us for our tips, and we turned to go back to the ESC.
It is hard to believe we have been here for almost a week. I’m starting to get used to hearing and seeing Deutsch around me all the time. However, Hannah and I did struggle to find the turkey lunch meat at the grocery store. (Its the one with the picture of the turkey on it – thank goodness.) All in all, I’m starting to settle in, and I cannot wait to start classes and begin traveling next week!
Auf Wiedersehen! – Moriah