This week was jam-packed with a ton of welcome week activities. On Monday I went to orientation, where I got my temporary student ID and welcome packet. I met some other exchange students at orientation, and we went to a campus tour together, where we met even more international students. They came from everywhere, including France, Spain, Turkey, Mexico, Argentina, Tunisia, Egypt, Hungary, South Korea, Iran, etc. Almost everyone spoke both English and German, but most seemed to prefer speaking in English. Later on after the tour there was another event called “Speedfriending” at a pub near the school, where we played team-building activities (the usual tower building stuff) and talked. I was the only American exchange student at these events (I’ve actually only met one other American so far), so I’ve been getting quite a few questions about the U.S. Two different groups approached me to ask if American men kiss their friends to greet them. They were shocked when I said American women (usually) don’t either. I’ve also gotten a lot of questions about U.S. politics and my hair, which is currently in box braids.
On Tuesday there was an intercultural workshop where they discussed adjusting to life in Germany and how to make friends with Germans. We were warned that Germans typically do not rush into friendships and it could take years to actually become someone’s friend. Then there was an international dance, where we learned some basic salsa dancing moves. I did not enjoy this part, and spent most of the time accidentally kicking my partners in the feet.
I bought tickets to Pink Floyd tribute concert by the Australian Pink Floyd band on Wednesday. I went by myself, because I bought my ticket before I had met anyone here. I was a few minutes late, and when I walked into the concert hall at 6 minutes past 8, everyone was already quietly seated and the show had started. The audience was practically silent during the show, and only clapped at the end of each song, occasionally whistling after a guitar solo. The crowd was also much older, but I still really enjoyed the show.
Thursday was a historical tour of the campus. I learned that the building I got my health insurance from used to be a concentration camp for intellectuals and communists. I also met with some other German and international students to eat at a traditional German restaurant, where I had my first Currywurst. Then we went to another international party, where I spent almost twenty minutes speaking with a student from Uzbekistan and answering his questions about current events in the U.S. There never seems to be any dancing at these parties, just conversation over music and beers.
There were many other events, but I won’t list them all. Just know I am exhausted and class starts tomorrow. To see my orientation week vlog, click here.