Sunday, May 8, 2011

Don't get a license in Germany -- You'll be broke!

So, my first day in Europe was fun and we haven’t really done anything yet.

The plane ride was great. It was really smooth and they fed you every couple of hours – though the food wasn’t amazing or anything. We arrived an hour late because before we taxied off the pilot said our brakes had to cool down. I didn’t get much sleep because the girl in front of me insisted on leaning her chair so far back that her head was practically in my lap. But, oh well.

We were picked up by Petra and Karl, two employees of The University of Johannes Gutenburg University’s International Students Office. They were nice and Petra had everything prepared for us –maps to the school, bus stops, the other student’s dorm rooms, and my host’s house.

Out of the four Americans that came I’m the only one with a host. Her name is Linda Kujawski. She is 23 and nice as can be. She cleaned out the office of her apartment and made it into my bedroom for the three weeks I’m here.

I know it looks messy in the picture because I had just pulled out all of my bags, but I’ve got a blow up bed, a nice spacious desk and shelves to put my things. Oh, and did I mention the two amazing, large windows to look out of? Right now, one views a building in construction. She warned me of looking out of it and seeing nasty old fat sweaty men. (Maybe I’ll just do my scenic viewing from the other.) The other shows a little backyard type deal with a rose bush, swing and garage or storage place. Since this is an apartment-type building I don’t know if we have access to that or it is the bottom floor’s “backyard.” We are on the second level.

So after being picked up from the airport by Petra and Karl, and being dropped off at Linda’s house and getting settled in, Me and Linda drove her boyfriend’s car back to the campus dorms where Hannah and Christina are staying to meet up with everyone. Linda’s boyfriend is a police officer here in Germany. This is why they have a nice apartment and car, she says, because he makes good money. She is a student at Mainz’s University, but she studies film, theater and art –not journalism. Anyway, her boyfriend, 24, is in the US right now. Currently he is in New York.

On the way over to meet the other Americans that came with me I learned loads of differences between German and American culture. For one, Germans can’t get their license until they are 18 and it is a HUGE ordeal. Linda said by the end of it you spend about 2,000 Euros! And you take of series of tests and lessons which involve you driving during the day, at night and on the autobahn (aka interstate.) Speaking of the autobahn, in most places there isn’t a speed limit! It’s common to go 110 mi. (Don’t worry, Dad, neither of the two I’ve ridden with so far have done that.)

Linda was also telling me about the school systems. There is a preliminary school that you go to until age ten. At that point, they look at your grades and they put you into the school for students who learn fast and are making good grades and the school for students who work more slowly. The later establishment only goes up to ten years and you don’t receive a diploma to then go into the University. If you did really well at the lower school you could try to then work into the upper level high school to earn the diploma to go onto University. The upper level high school goes for 13 years (unlike the U.S.’s 12) and you receive a diploma to then go onto University if you want. So, basically your future is decided by your grades at age ten. Linda said that the way the University works out, only the well-to-do students who have money can go.
So anyways, once we get to campus and Dr. Arant, The University of Memphis’s Journalism Department chair who came with us to Germany to teach our War Reporting course, was all settled into his room, Petra and Karl took all of us out to eat. We went to this little area that use to be a US Army Station. We, ironically, ate on Martin Luther King Street. We ate at this little pizza/Turkish store.

Hannah and I ate döners. They are this little Turkish wraps that are so good! It is basically a pita wrap with meet and salad type stuff in it and this yummy sauce. It was huge!

Unlike the picture, however, we got ours in a wrap instead of the little pocket pita bread. We got Apfelschorle to drink. Petra told us it was the most popular non-alcoholic beverage of the neighborhood. It is a apple juice/sparkling water mix –and it was good! It came in a little re-usable beer bottle as you can see below. The top is what makes it reusable. You pull out the metal part which unpops the metal “cork” in the top and when you pour it into your glass you “reseal” it.

Hannah and I, like the tourist we are, took our bottles home with us as souvenirs.
So after lunch was grocery shopping. Doing this in another culture/language was actually interesting. Luckily, we had Linda, Petra and Karl following each of us and translating. Although, a lot of their products have English words under the German ones (much like how the US has Spanish under the English) and this made it easy to understand. Before getting a shopping cart you have to put in a Euro, which you will get back when you return it. This deposit is to ensure no one runs off with the cart. Their one Euros are coins. Only the 5, 10, 20 and 50s are in cash. I put a photo of my cash and coins. Right now I only have coins worth 2 Euros and 10cents.

After shopping, I said goodbye to Hannah, Christina and Dr. Arant and me and Linda went back to her apartment. After calling my Dad, Jody, Grandma and mom I fell smooth out at 3 p.m. German time. Right now it is 9 a.m. German time, which means I’ve been asleep 18 hours! Linda isn’t awake yet and I’m actually about to go back to sleep for a little while!

Today is Sunday, Mother’s Day (so Happy Mother’s Day Mom – Love you!) We don’t have anything planned except dinner tonight with all of us Americans and some of the University’s faculty. It is at this Italian restaurant called “Mediterraneo.” That is at six p.m. When Linda and I wake up for good we are making a big breakfast and then before we head off to dinner we are going to make this strawberry shortcake type thing (yumm!)
Oh and by the way, Linda has a motor scooter (like a small Yamaha motorcycle type thing) and that is what we are driving to the restaurant tonight! Gas is really expensive over here (1.45 Euros per Liter) so she doesn’t drive the car much at all. I will mostly take the bus. Today is a huge bike race in Mainz so apparently downtown is going to be packed. She said taking the “scooter” will be easier to get around and find a parking spot!
So until I update next time, Auf Wiedersehen! (<-- Goodbye)

1 comment:

  1. This is Chelsea, just seeing if my comments work, because I hear they aren't.