“Its so hard to leave — until you leave. And then its the easiest thing in the world.” – John Green, Paper Towns
I left home on January 20. Both Mom and Dad dropped me off at the airport. I had two giant bags and a backpack with me — which is a lot of luggage for me.
I spent my last night in Claremont with a lot of good friends. We ate out and saw Kung Foo Panda 3. Highly recommend it. In the morning, Ryan and I woke up at 4:50, called my parents, picked up Melissa and Carlos, and drove to LAX. And no, I totally didn’t cry at all. Here are pictures I took before I left home and LA:
I’ve actually been excited to study abroad up until this point. Usually I’m full of nerves weeks in advance, but not this time. However the actual leaving part was really difficult. I spent most of my first flight from LAX to Newark, New Jersey in a not great mood. But knowing me, that was bound to happen.
During the flight I was reading my German grammar book (trying to prepare for my language placement tests at the Goethe Institut on Monday), and I starting reading the section about the word ‘gern.’ Its a very funny word. It means ‘to like’ or ‘pleasing/willingly’. Apparently its used often. But I was always confused in what contexts it is used. So as I was reading, I thought, “I’ll finally be able to understand this word once I’ve heard it enough from Germans for the next several months.” And I think that’s when it clicked in my head: I’m actually, physically going to Germany. Holy crap.
So I’m certainly in a better mood now. I’ve always loved that John Green quote — it usually proves true. So as the day ends in New Jersey I’m getting exciting about landing on foreign soil on a Sunday morning (thank you time difference). I get a whole day to see Berlin before I see my host.
(Continued after a few more hours)
On the second plane, I sat next to an older man who was from Hessen. As he explained to me, you don’t usually say what city or town you’re from because Germans from other states won’t know it. At least I’m pretty sure that’s the gist of it. I really need to work on my vocabulary. We talked on and off, usually in German.
There was one moment that was so funny, and only my family will get this. Before take off, the flight attendants would get on the loud speaker. The man I was sitting next to had stared a movie, and during a few announcements, he flicked his hand at the screen like he was waving the announcement away with vague annoyance. It looked EXACTLY like how my Oma will wave something away that she doesn’t like.
Again, fairly uneventful flight, which was good. We reached the Berlin area at around 7:30 and the sun was just rising over Berlin. It’s been forever since I’ve taken a picture out of a plane window, but I figured it was worth it. (Also, my obligatory Krispy Kreme hat picture — happy now Melissa?)
My host was out of town until that evening, so Dad helped me book a hotel nearby for pretty cheap. I checked-in and showered; it was 9:30. I ate at a little cafe and took the tram a little ways to Museum Island.
I couldn’t find the Deutsches Historisches Museum, but I went to the Nationalgalerie and to the Berliner Dom. They are so cool! The Berliner Dom was built in the early 1900s by the last German Emperor, Wilhelm II. It was a gorgeous Cathedral; the ceilings were covered with engravings; there were mosaics of the four authors of the Gospel; there were beautiful stained glass windows. The whole alter was covered in gold. The National Gallery had a lot of wonderful artwork, including Monet, Renoir, Menzel, and a lot of other artists. (The picture is Renoir’s.)
And here’s some pictures of the ceiling, because it was gorgeous:
I got lunch, but it became cold and windy for a while so I decided to go back to the hotel by about 1pm. I got to chat with my mom! And…then I promptly fell asleep for like two hours.
I checked out and walked a block to my host’s apartment. Her name is Katja. Her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s brother are currently living with her; their names are Flo and Paul. They’re all very nice. The apartment is cool too. As I suspected, there was no dryer, because apparently most people in Europe don’t have dryers. There’s a whole shelf in the fridge for me and two supermarkets just down the street.
So all is good so far! I”m happy to be here.