A Rough Start

So, it’s been several weeks and things have finally calmed down enough for me to write another blog post. Yay!

First off, I’d like to go over my journey getting to Leipzig and my first week here. It was rough, to say the least. On Friday night, the day before I was supposed to leave, I logged into my airline’s website to check my baggage limits, and there was a message that said, “The passenger has missed one or more of their flights.” I looked at the itinerary and it had been changed by 24 hours, from Saturday to Friday. I immediately began to panic and called the airline. After many calls and lots of hold time, I eventually got a flight for Sunday instead of Saturday. I was supposed to be in Leipzig Monday morning for the start of the language and orientation course, so I was rather stressed about missing the first day. Whatever, at least I had a flight now. So I arrived at the airport on Sunday, all ready to go, and I ended up running into more troubles at the check-in counter. After several more phone calls, I was finally able to get my tickets. I said my goodbyes to my family, hugged and kissed my girlfriend, Miranda, one last time, and then I was walking through security. It was funny, though. The entire time leading up to leaving, I didn’t really feel sad that I was leaving. I was mostly just really really excited! But as I turned around and waved goodbye for the last time, it all started to hit me. I finally realized just how long I’d go without being with the people I love. But, my journey to Leipzig had only just begun! Unfortunately, so had my flight troubles.

My flights from Kansas City to Toronto and Toronto to Frankfurt went smoothly. As I was walking into the terminal, everything was written in German (Duh). At that moment, I realized that I was in Germany. It was very surreal. I had wanted to travel to this country since I was just a little kid, and now I was finally here! But that fascination quickly changed, however, when my ticket from Frankfurt to Leipzig wouldn’t print. According to the airline’s records, I didn’t even have a ticket with them. I went back and forth to at least five different people before I found someone that could actually help me, but by that time I had missed my flight to Leipzig. See, my original plan was to get into Leipzig and run to the student services building as fast as possible so that I could get into my dorm. But because of my later flight, this was no longer a possibility, since they would be closed by the time I got there. So I ended up booking a hostel for the night right by the train station in Leipzig. When I got on my plane, I sat next to a very kind German lady. She and I spoke a little bit (in German!) and she actually ended up giving me her little bag of potato chips that they gave us as our in-flight snack. She was very sweet and wished me luck on my travels in Germany. That little act of kindness made me feel so much better, and speaking with someone in German, no matter how briefly, really boosted my confidence levels.

And then, after many hours of running into one bit of trouble after another, I finally landed in Leipzig. I got a train ticket to the Hauptbahnhof (central train station) and found my way to the hostel. It was my first time in a hostel, and one of my roommates, an older man there for business, showed me the room. I immediately took a shower, which felt great after such a long and stressful journey. As I was laying down for bed, I grabbed my blanket and headed towards my bed. He immediately got up and said in German, “No, you need to put your sheet on the blanket!” But my jet-lagged, frustrated brain just looked at him with what must have been comical confusion. He laughed and grabbed one of my sheets, which looked like a giant pillowcase, and put the blanket inside it. I smiled my thanks and went straight to bed.

So, the next day I woke up and started walking to the language course, dragging my luggage behind me. Now German streets are pretty much all cobblestones. This proved to be very destructive to my suitcase’s tiny plastic wheels. Eventually the wheels got worn down to the point that my bag was dragging on the ground. It was an annoyance, but it was one that I thought wouldn’t be much of an issue. Oh, how wrong I was!

I made it to the correct building and walked inside, with everything that I had brought with me to Germany. And I immediately made a friend. Her name is Chandani and she is from Angola originally (which is a country in Africa for those who need a geography update), but studies and lives in Portugal. As I’ve gotten to know her, I’ve realized just how much of a kind and caring person she is. We even call her “Oma”, which is German for “grandma” because she’s always making sure everyone is cared for. So knowing that now, I’m sure that when she saw me, an exhausted look on my face and carrying around all of me luggage, and instantly saw someone that needed to be taken care of. Either way, I’m glad that she did! After the introduction to the course, we walked to the student services building and got my paperwork for my dorm room figured out. It was a process, with lots of papers and what not. From there I had to go to my room, which is about 20 or 25 minutes away from the city center by train. Remember how I said that my wheels had been worn down? Yea, well it got to the point where I had to physically carry my 45 lbs suitcase around, switching from one hand to the next when my arm got too tired. I did this all the way to the train station and then from my train stop to my room. By the time I actually got into my room, I was dead tired and my arms were incredibly sorry. But I had made it! I was officially in my room and able to lay down on a bed and what not. I was finally able to just sit down and relax a bit.