Posted by: trierbound | October 11, 2009

Week 1: History and Bureaucracy

The week has flown by. Each day seemed long, but looking back, I’m not sure where time went. The city is beautiful, and I’ve found a great group of friends from a bunch of different countries all intent on speaking German all the time, which is fantastic for all of our language abilities. We’re all pretty competent, too, so we can help each other out. My German seems to get worse and worse as the day goes on and I get more and more tired, but fortunately most of my evenings are spent at home where I can speak English.

The week was filled with bureaucratic paperwork, but I should have everything I need to survive this year by this point. I’ve filled out dozens of papers, but it’s worth it to stay in this beautiful city. Trier is so gorgeous!! It’s very rainy, but this morning with the after-rain mist it was the most beautiful that I had seen it so far. The campus is very modern, but lined with beautiful trees that are so many different shades of every color, and around the campus is beautiful green. Everything is cobblestone, and they’ve incorporated nature into every corner of the campus outside of the actual buildings. Then there’s a little shopping center attached to campus: a bookstore, a bakery, a post office, a grocery store, a school supply store, and an odds-and-ends store accompanied by a few restaurants and cafes. It’s the perfect place to pick up the little things I need, but not big enough to be busy or crowded. I’m sure that will change some once the semester officially starts and all 20,000 students are on campus or close by. Right now, however, it’s the perfect quiet little nook.

The city is beautiful as well. It’s about a 20 minute bus ride downtown, but it’s worth it! There are so many old buildings -many from Roman times, many that are the oldest structures in the world or on this side of the Alps. The Porta Nigra, the structure the town is most famous for, was built in 200a.d. It’s quite large and fantastic looking. At night it’s all lit up and is particularly beautiful. The streets downtown are also cobblestone -getting to and from town is paved, but the pedestrian zones are all cobblestone- and the buildings are all old and ornately designed. There’s a beautiful fountain in the center of town, and in front of it is a small market every day where one can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers. There are so many shops, both big and small, that line the cobblestone streets, and more ice cream shops than I can count! Ice cream and coffee are everywhere, which means I’m going to be very unhealthy…

My daughter has a bike that she rides to school everyday, and often outside after school as well. It’s a pink two-wheeler with training wheels and a princess on it. She loves school as well, and always has something new to show me when I pick her up in the afternoon. She hasn’t started speaking any German yet, but she understands some of the simple things she hears both from me and at school. I went with her on her first day of school, and have been trying to imitate some of the things I remember her teachers saying and doing. She doesn’t seem to be intimidated or scared of the language difference, though, which is really great for her.

Class is going really well for me, as well. I’m trying to soak up every word and phrase my teacher uses so that I can speak like a native German. She’s really great about letting us speak, about providing exercises that have to do with the culture as much as grammar, and about helping us with things about school and the university. She gave us a first-year guide book that the University has, and we went through the “vocabulary” list and talked about the ones that would be most important to us. We’re also giving short presentations in class because that’s often part of small classes at the University level in Germany. She really wants to make our transition here easy, and, boy, do I appreciate it!

All this to say that despite a rough couple of days, Trier life is moving along smoothly and I think my daughter and I are both going to be really happy here.

-Trierbound

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