Hello, everyone! Here I am writing a bit more about my incredible time that I’ve had on my year abroad, but this time round with great deal of focus on my first week.
Going on a year abroad might seem a little scary or challenging and in a way it will be… However, I am sharing with you some of the things that I did in the first few days and how I managed to get over that moment of slight culture shock, in order to actually make the most of my year abroad.
The journey begins with the arrival’s day (2 October 2014), my first day in Konstanz. After taking a direct train from the Zurich Airport to Konstanz, the year abroad adventure was ready to fully kick in.
I should mention that upon my arrival I was assigned a buddy, who was simply a student at the University of Konstanz and that was really helpful in answering my questions. I was really lucky to have someone to give me a little insight on how it is to study in Konstanz before I actually arrived there. Even if you do not have access to something like this before going on your year abroad, I highly recommend looking up the buses that go to the university, how to get to your accommodation and print yourself a little map to help you out for when you are there. In a new place, it is very likely that you will get confused about where you are, not to mention tired from all the travelling, so having on hand a direction guide with useful information is essential.
Back to my first day adventure… with lots of luggage, I get onto the bus heading to the university and when I get off the bus I realise that I actually went a bit further than I should have gone. After asking someone passing by, I figure out that I need to find the bus stop in the opposite direction and get off at the right place. I should say that everyone that I asked for information spoke really good English and they helped me out quite a lot. So do not be afraid to ask for help, we’re all humans and we cannot possibly figure everything out from the very start!
At that point I was constricted by time, because I had to arrive to my accommodation by a certain time in order to pick my key. In the end, I make it to my accommodation and get the key in time. When I get in front of the door of my house, a student welcomed me in and helped me with my luggage. It was nice to see a friendly face and have a quick chat. I found out that the shops and supermarkets weren’t too far away and the location of our accommodation was actually very close to the university too (15-20 minutes by foot).
That day ended with me unpacking all of my things and going to buy some necessary things from the supermarket. Little did I know that the next day it was going to be a bank holiday (Day of German Unity) and that the shops were all going to close! My advice is to do a holiday check and see which bank holidays are coming up for the country that you are now living in, so that you will not ending up being very surprised like I did.
For the next day, I ended up going to discover the city of Konstanz and having more of a relaxing day. The rest of my flatmates arrived later that weekend and we all sat down to have a chat, get to know one another, and find out what we study.
The next week came quickly by and on the 6th of October all of the international students were starting an orientation programme, in my case called OriPro. The university of Konstanz offers 3 different orientation programmes and it is up to you to choose which one you would like to take part in. Between the 6th and 10th of October, I was involved in a series of activities preparing me for my year abroad in Konstanz. From that time I remember we had to deal with filling a lot paperwork, which was not the most pleasant thing in the world to be doing, but it did take the pressure off our chests having the documents all sorted out. During this programme, I met some of the other international students and this is how I started to make friends. After each day of our programme, we would go to have lunch, coffee at the canteen of the university, or go to city in order to have a walk across the Rhine while eating some delicious ice-cream.
I remember being terribly excited during that week and all the activities that I was involved in were making me even more keen to discover what was coming up next. It really was a great experience and, from experience, I can tell you that it’s really not as scary as it might sound!