Yesterday, I had a delightfully long phone-conversation with an alumni of the program I am studying abroad with. I’m normally not a phone user (I’m one of those people who gets bored talking to invisible people), but finding out some things about where I’m going, from someone who sounded like he wish he could go again, was nice. Of course, he had to warn me about a few things, like making sure I fulfilled my obligations and attended everything I was invited to (it’s what happens when you’re sponsored to study in another country!), but mostly, I was happy to listen to him tell me about public transportation stops, the university campus, what the dorm situation was like, and how to take care of things like insurance.
Since first contacting this former student, I had already found out a lot of details, like the name of the main building I’d be studying in and how to get my insurance. However, I didn’t have the pleasure of really imagining myself in Hamburg yet, and talking to the guy made everything seem much closer, much more real. I can imagine myself there now and envision how I’ll store my dishes in the locked pantry cubby I get, or how I’ll get off at the station in the evening and walk to my dormitory. He gave me a lot of great tips as well about how to plan for meeting with other students going to other German cities through the VDAC, or how I can arrange to travel with a student I’ll have met to some of the seminars I’m going to.
So the phone call was nice and I’m wrapping my head around the idea that I’ll be studying in a “foreign” country soon.
Another thing I started doing this past week was looking up what classes I’ll be taking. Students can study language for free as well, so I’m excited to be able to work on my academic German and brush up on some Russian (even more vital these days than when I first started studying it five years ago). I was also encouraged by the local chairperson of the VDAC in Hamburg to look up the orientation schedule for international students and check out some events I want to go to. I can’t wait to find out about how I can get involved in sports like soccer while over there, or to take a tour of the Schanzenviertel by night.
There’s a lot a phone conversation can do to get wheels that have been turning for some time now finally on the track. I have a little over three weeks now. Albeit, I have the very pressing matter of preparing for my MA oral comprehensive exam, but I also have started to get things together to put in my suitcases and I’m looking up warm, water-proof jackets for while I’m there. Now that this is September, the time before I leave suddenly feels much shorter than it did five days ago. It’s a bit stressful right now, preparing and studying, but it’s a good kind of stress because I’m beginning to look forward to the experiences that await me in Hamburg!