Yesterday's Mistake of the Day: Right train, wrong direction.
Yesterday was my first official day of my study abroad program. I had to arrive at the university at 2PM for orientation, and in order to do that, I had to take the U-Bahn. For those of you who haven't visited Germany, the U-Bahn is basically the German metro/subway system. Everyone who knows me understands how daunting a metro system is for me given my rural upbringing. In fact, this was my first metro experience sans guide, and needless to say, I was intimidated. Fortunately, my good friend Maren gave me a helpful website to figure out which trains I needed to take and which stops to make. It gave me all the information I needed. Unfortunately, I didn't write down one of the most important parts: the direction in which I should go. Unbeknownst to me, each route has 2 different directions in which one can travel, and these directions give the trains their name. For instance, one train route I'll be frequenting, the U7, has two trains: One goes towards Rudow, and the other goes towards Rathaus Spandau. Here's a map to give you guys a visual.
Yeah, confusing, right? Well the first train ride was perfectly fine. I went in the right direction and got off at the right stop. I like to think the U-Bahn wanted to lure me into a false sense of security. I was totally and completely convinced of my navigational prowess. And that's when it all went to Hell in a hand basket.
The next train I boarded was going in the opposite direction of the one I needed. I realized after 2 or 3 stops and got off, but it didn't end there. Once I made it to my final stop, I had to take a bus to FU's campus. I found the right bus and even the right stop, but for whatever reason, the bus kept going even though I pressed the "stop" button. In the end, I did make it to the orientation (about 10 minutes late), and met some pretty awesome people. After the orientation, two new acquaintances and I decided to find the building in which our classes would be. Now, FU is not like most American universities in that it doesn't have a centralized campus. The building we were looking for was about 2 kilometers from the main building in which we had orientation. Needless to say, we got lost.
Eventually we found our way and celebrated our victory with a glass of wine. Which brings us to today.
Today's Mistake of the Day: Lunch
Today I had my language placement interview for the program. This short, 5 minute interview determined the language level in which I would be placed. I was aiming for C1 and somehow (perhaps miraculously) was placed into that level (and there was much rejoicing). One of my aforementioned acquaintances, Jordan, was also placed in this level, so we have 2 classes together, which is exciting. After the interviews, we went on a campus tour. That was probably a mistake.
For the campus tour, we had to walk the 2 kilometers back to the main building and eat at the Mensa. Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with FU's Mensa, but I had no idea how to navigate it. There were so many options that I was immediately confused and overwhelmed. I decided to go with a safe choice and get salad and a pastry. However, I could not for the life of me find any salad dressing.
So there I was, eating a naked salad, and I keeping coming across a really bitter salad leaf every 2-3 bites with nothing to mitigate the taste. I eventually abandoned the salad for the pastry, then quickly realized that despite its sugary, almond-slivered appearance, there was an odd sauce lurking underneath with an unpleasantly tart taste. So much for lunch.
However, dinner with my host family completely made up for my unsavory culinary mishaps. Karoline made some kind of delicious potato dish with cheese and fennel. We also had a proper salad with dressing and sans bitter leaves. My German also seems to be improving, as conversations with Karoline and the kids are much easier now than the first day, or even yesterday.
Those are the major highlights of the past two days, but here are two unrelated pictures.
I had to get them. They were made for me.
Polite (if sarcastic) graffiti near my apartment.
Hope you guys are enjoying my posts. This is my first blog, so I'd love suggestions!