I am currently sitting in the Frankfurt Airport (though this won’t get published until I get to Marburg) and the only word I can think of right now is surreal. I know, it’s the most stereotypical descriptor of a first arrival in a foreign country. I sound like every study abroad blog ever when I say that I feel like I’m just waiting to wake up – this can’t be real. But there’s a reason every study abroad blog begins like that: it’s true.
I am in awe right now of how far I have come, literally and figuratively. Literally, 11 hours ago (from writing this) I was in Seattle. And now I am in Germany, another world away. Figuratively, because oh my God – I’m in Germany. I’ve wanted to visit here ever since we hosted an exchange student from Germany ten years ago. And now, after studying the language for 2 ½ years, after months of preparation, after a fairly rigorous scholarship application to help fund this… here I am. I did it. And this is only the beginning.
Right now I am waiting for the other Marquette student coming over with me – she should be in within the hour. I am not quite sure how this whole meeting thing is going to go, but we’ll see. I’m a bit surprised at how quiet this airport is. Frankfurt is such a business hub, I expected this airport to be humming with life, huge and overwhelming. But honestly, I think an airport like SeaTac would be way more overwhelming. But maybe there’s just much more going on here than the little bit I’m currently seeing. Besides, I still have to take a train to Marburg, which I think could be the most confusing part of the trip.
The plane ride itself was fairly uneventful. Overall I’m a fan of Lufthansa’s service. The meals were decent (high praise for airline food!), they doled out hot towelettes, and there was a vast selection of entertainment options. I watched The Social Network and The Other Guys, two very good movies for completely different reasons. I was on the aisle of the middle section – it went 2 – 4 – 2 – but there was no one in the middle two seats, so that was a bonus. Except then the woman in front of me decided to move into our middle (not sure why) and proceeded to periodically hand off or receive her small, flailing child. So that got a bit old.
Ok, now the rest of this entry is being written from my hotel in Marburg.
I finally met up with Becca around 10:45 and we set off to figure out this train nonsense. After some false starts, we bought what we hoped were the correct tickets. We first needed to take a train from the airport to the main train station (Hauptbahnhof) and then change to the train that would take us from Marburg.
The Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof was fairly overwhelming – dozens of tracks, and no clear way of figuring out which track was the one we needed. I suppose with less luggage we could have wandered around and figured it out for ourselves, but laden down as we were, I opted to go straight to the information desk and ask where we needed to go – a less dignified route, yes, but a much quicker one.
Then we had further confusion – we were sent to track 14, but according to the sign there were two different destinations for this train – one would take us to Marburg and the other went to different towns. As far as we could see, there was only one train here and it was the wrong one. We decided to just get on the train anyway, since it would at least start by heading in the direction we needed; we could just get off at some point and change trains again. Not fun with so many bags, but doable. However, when we reached Gießen, we realized that we were on the correct train, just the wrong part – the cars would divide and the front of the train would go to Marburg. So all we needed to do was relocate to the front train and we were good to go!
It was such a thrill reaching Marburg – this is it! My home for the next five months! I have to say though, I wasn’t really expecting it to be as bustling as it is. The second we arrived, there were people, mostly students, everywhere. They didn’t even wait for us to get off the train before pushing forward to get on .
Once we left the train, we were faced with our ultimate nemesis: stairs. My suitcase was extremely heavy and Becca had multiple rolling bags. We began to struggle our way day when a kind-hearted lad, certainly a student, immediately leapt in to give us a hand. And God bless him, he carried our bags down the first set of stairs to leave the platform and then up the next set to the main station area. I don’t know how we could have managed without him, and so I salute you mystery student.
Luckily our hotel was approximately a thirty second walk from the train station, so the worst was finally behind us. I was afraid our hotel wouldn’t have an elevator, but thank goodness it does, though it is the smallest elevator I have ever seen – I barely fit with my suitcase.
Now we are just chilling in the hotel room, using up our hour of internet for the low (hah) price of 4,95EUR. We laid down for about an hour and a half nap and getting back up was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I know that I’ll never shake this jetlag if I go to bed when it’s still light outside. So, we roused ourselves in hopes of rallying at least until nightfall. But good heavens, I’ve never dealt with exhaustion quite like this.
Ok. Running out of internet. That’s the word.