Mistake of the Day: I didn't sleep on the plane.
Yeah, that was a pretty big one. 8 hours and 50 minutes with the takeoff time at 6:55 PM, plus a 45 minute layover and another 1 hour flight. Also, I woke up at 8:30 AM that morning to finish packing. Just to do the math and include getting to my host family's apartment and having lunch, that's about 25 hours of consciousness before I got to take a nap. Now I know what you're thinking: "But Catie, how could you be so stupid? You knew it would only be noon when you got to Berlin! What were you thinking?" Well, dear reader, I was thinking about how much I wished I could sleep. Admittedly I did watch The Wolf of Wall Street for the first bit of the flight, but after that, I was bound and determined to get some sleep. Really, I tried everything I could think of to drift off, but nothing worked. In the end, I just resigned myself to watching A Game of Thrones and an episode of The Big Bang Theory dubbed over in German (It's uncanny how well it's done, by the way. All of the voices for each of the characters sound similar to the original actors/actresses). My fatigue was somewhat mitigated by my conversations with the nice middle-aged Italian man who sat next to me during the flight, but that wasn't to last.
Once we landed in Munich, Germany, I had to go through customs to enter the country. I am absolutely convinced that the people who work at customs ask questions designed specifically to fluster and/or intimidate people. This was how it went:
Him: "So what brings you to Germany."
Me: "I'm here to study abroad in Berlin at Freie Universität."
Him: "In Berlin?" (Keep in mind, we are in Munich)
Him: "In the summer? How long will you be here?"
Me: "It's a six-week long summer program."
Him: "That's not a long time. Why didn't you come for longer?"
Me: "I couldn't manage it with my studies at my university in America."
Him: "How long have you been in university? What do you study?"
Me: "I've been there 3 years and I study English and German."
*Long pause as he looks at my passport*
Him: "Enjoy Berlin."
Ok, so maybe it's not all that intimidating and I'm sure there was a bit more to the conversation, but between the sleep deprivation and the pauses, he almost made me suspicious of myself.
Once again, I boarded another (thankfully much shorter) flight. As we flew over Berlin, I realized that I had no idea just how massive the city is. I mean, I suppose I knew in my head that it's huge, but I just couldn't visualize it. I'm not going to lie, it's a pretty intimidating sight for someone who grew up in the country and goes to school in a university town.
Thankfully I, my luggage, and two members of my host family all made it to the airport without a hitch. My host mom, Karoline, and her 5 year old son, Lino, came to help me collect my things and get to their apartments in Neukölln. From that point on, I've been completely immersed in the German language, which normally isn't too much of a problem, but we have to remember the aforementioned sleep deprivation. Although I was very happy to finally meet them and get to know them better, I'm not entirely sure I could have managed English, let alone German. We managed, and I took a 2 hour nap which left me in a much more comprehensible state. Karoline is an amazing artist and her husband Benjamin works as a chemist at another university in Berlin. Here is some of Karoline's work.
We also spent some time on Youtube during which she got to see some videos of my sister, Carson, and I was introduced to die Lochis, who are a hilarious German duo who parody popular songs and do other neat stuff.
I haven't gotten to meet Benjamin and the girls, Karli and Jona, yet since they are at a music festival, but here are a few photos of my room for the next six weeks.
My bed (post nap)
My very own couch
The rest of the room
The view from my desk
Today is a new day, and I'll be unpacking, going to Freie Universität for my orientation, and meeting Benjamin, Karli, and Jona. Fingers crossed that my bank card will work at the ATMs (we notified the bank that I'd be abroad, but I haven't actually tried my card yet) and that I won't get lost on the U-Bahn.