Rachel Bermingham, studying at the University of Tübingen, Germany
I have only been in this south German town of nearly 30,000 students for three weeks, but it’s already starting to feel a bit like home. A home where every shop closes on a Sunday, everyone separates each shred of rubbish and they don’t speak the same language as me … but a home nonetheless!
Settling in takes a bit of work, a smidge of exploring and a lot of talking to strangers.
(Tip for tracking down your housemates: Always keep one kitchen utensil in your room that you can just 'casually bring to the kitchen’ the second you hear someone else in there!)
Living in Germany doesn’t just mean drinking €2 beer with a load of fellow international students and living exclusively off Pretzels … but it helps! Once you begin shopping in supermarkets and making your own food it does feel like you’ve settled into life in another country. Even if you’re still left wishing salted microwave popcorn was more of a thing in this country. But I will try ‘sweet’ popcorn some time…
It’s so important to go and explore your new town because then you really feel a part of it. Forget what Trip Advisor tells you you to do and just go. Sure, I had to go by myself sometimes but you feel so settled when you know exactly how to get to the Old Castle or the best spot to sit by the river:
Cope with the disasters for there will be many!
Including getting lost in a random suburban housing estate with no pedestrian road, no cash for a bus ticket and no internet to check Google maps (I may or may not be speaking from first hand experience here). It happens and you will survive. Or just do what I do – go back to where you came from and just start all over again.
Studying abroad is the perfect time to forget any advice your parents ever gave you and start talking to strangers. Talk to everyone you can.
It’s true that a stranger is just a friend you’ve never met. Go. Talk to people- about anything! The weather, Game of Thrones, your accommodation, most likely they’ll just be delighted they’re making friends.
It takes some work, but it’s all worth it when you bump into one of your new friends on the street and it feels that bit like home.
Rachel is on her year abroad at the University of Tübingen, studying Media & German. Twitter & Instagram: Rach_Bermingham