Bring on the Bling

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Road to Germany...

This is the blog that I wrote my first weekend here...things have changed a little bit, but now I am up-to-date with all of my back-dated blogs. New blog to come soon!!

Our registration time in Kiel was between 11am-6pm. With the trains arriving from Hamburg late in the day, it wasn’t going to be possible for me to make it in time. I had done a little research before I left and learned that there were more hostels in Hamburg. When I arrived at the train station, I quickly found the tourist information booth and got the name of a hostel close to the station. It was called Generator and I’d actually looked into this place a few weeks ago. It was like a hotel: huge, impersonal, and busy. I was so gross: I was still wearing the outfit I had gotten drenched in Krakow, slept in the outfit on the train, and was now pretty sweaty and gross. My makeup was a few days old and I’m sure my breath was wonderful. I asked the desk if they had a bed. Thankfully, they did. I bought a towel and some soap because, well, we all know I needed it at that point.

I found my room empty and hoped it would stay that way. I got cleaned up and headed out to find some Currywurst. I had heard of this “delicacy” of Germany, but wasn’t too thrilled to try it. My Germany friend, Sylvia, said it was her favorite type of food, so I wanted to give it a shot. I also wanted to send her a picture. Fortunately, I found a place in the station and purchased some. It was pretty good, despite my initial cringe at the amount of sauce the guy put on it.

Hamburg Hbf (main train station)'s better than it looks!
Found the HUGE hostel around the corner from the Hbf...

I headed back to the hostel, grabbing a Coke on the way from a market. When I got to my room, I stopped breathing. Literally. It smelled worse than sweaty hockey players (I spent a year working with the hockey teams at BYU-Idaho). Having worked Custodial at Disneyland, I have smelled the worst of the worst. I’ve been knee-deep in it. I’ve had it splashed on me. I’ve had to throw out shoes and socks, wash my hair at work, and so much more. I was NOT prepared for 5 sweaty men. I was planning on trying to go to bed, or at least lying in bed sending emails. I walked over to my bed, grabbed my water, and headed back out. I think the guys said hi to me, but I bolted. SO GROSS. Even when my brothers would get sweaty, Kristin, mom and I would make them take a shower right away. Fortunately, my brothers are very hygienic, so we didn’t have to do it all that often. Anyway, I sat down in the common room of the hostel and checked the usual: Facebook, Instagram, emails. I was literally trying to give them time to take showers and get the stank out. No such luck. When I went back up an hour later, it smelled just as bad, but they weren’t there. I propped the door open to get some of it out. I wished I had a plugged nose. The worst part? One of the guys had “rinsed” out his jeans and underwear and hung them off of his bunk. Now, they smell like molding funk.

Freshly showered and lounging in the hostel...away from the stank...
 When I left in the morning, I left the door propped open. Oh well. The people after them will thank me. In order to catch the bus to Kiel, I took a cab over to the airport. The Kielius runs pretty regularly to the Kiel bus station and is so nice: air conditioning, wifi, comfy seats. Perfect. Caught up with everything again and looked out the window. It was so pretty again. We passed tons of fields and farmland. It almost reminded me of Idaho. Almost.

I finally arrived at the International Center around 2 and got checked in. I got a lift out to the international student dorms, which are about a 45-minute walk from campus. How do I know this? Let me tell you. That night was the Germany-France game of the World Cup. I had been disconnected for most of the trip and hadn’t seen any games. I don’t really follow soccer, but it’s hard to not get excited during the World Cup. I asked one of the IC workers where a good place to watch the game would be, and he indicated that a lot of students go to the Mensa (cafeteria) to watch. Cool. I went to my room and unpacked a bit, and then laid down for a few minutes without pants on, reveling in the fact that I was alone in a bedroom after a week. 

I got ready to go catch the bus to campus, when I found the worker from the IC. He gave me a lift down, and I asked how late the busses ran, just in case. He said they run until 1am. Sweet!

In the Mensa watching on a jumbo screen
The game was awesome. I didn’t know a single person, didn’t understand much, but the atmosphere was infectious. The crowd of students, teachers, Kielers all cheered, clapped, yelled, laughed along with the game. I found myself doing the same. I wish I could have captured the moment when Germany scored. It was amazing. When the game was over, I walked to my bus stop, starting to make a grocery list; there’s a market around the corner from our dorms. I looked at the schedule to figure out when the next bus would be coming along. I noticed that during the week, the line I needed stopped running at 7:38. It was 8:00. Great. I had no idea where the dorm was, so I couldn’t call a taxi. Even if I knew, I couldn’t use my phone. Ugh. So I pulled out my bus map and started to hoof it, very grateful I had decided to wear my flip-flops instead of my Vans.

"Waiting" for the bus that never came...
I headed in the direction I thought the dorms were and struggled to remember the name of the market across the street, just in case. Famila. That’s it. Just in case I found a taxi along the way. Then I realized I didn’t have any Euros. Whelp, this is a good way to get to know the city, I guess! I made a turn and thought I was going the wrong way, but I stayed the course. Good thing too, because I found a landmark that I had noticed on one of the trips in the van with the guy from the IC. I kept going and figured I’d run into water at some point (Kiel is between the North and Baltic Seas, with canals and rivers). I knew I was heading north (thank you iPhone), which was the right direction. After second and triple-guessing myself, I saw the market. Yay! My feet hurt, I was gross (I’m starting to notice a pattern) and I needed something cool to drink. I stopped at the gas station (having counted 5 Euros in change in my pocket) to grab a water and snack, when I found a little piece of heaven:

 Having become an unofficial connoisseur of Dr. Pepper, I immediately noticed the differences, but ignored them just as quickly. I’m good. I checked my phone: it was 8:45. If that 45-minute walk to a place I only recognized by sight was payment to find my Dr. Pepper…WORTH IT! I happily went to bed in my home for the next month, listening to “Pride and Prejudice” on my phone.

I woke up anxious to meet with my group. We met for breakfast at 10:30 and then a group of us (5) took off to explore the city on foot. It was HOT. Humid and sunny. Gross. We followed this kid in our group as he got us lost a little bit, but we found the shopping center and Saturn. Remember Saturn? It’s apparently THE electronic place to go in Central and Eastern Europe.
Alexis and I at the downtown shopping center

First market trip to Aldi and Famila

So excited to be here!
After shopping, we broke off again, with Alexis and I heading to the market. I needed a few things and so did she. The guys had gone earlier in the day. Hosers. This time, we took the bus. My call. The shopping experience was…an experience. I at least knew a little about what to expect (thanks Wendy). I remembered last minute that we have to provide our own bags, or purchase them from the store, and then bag our own stuff. I quickly grabbed us each a bag and started bagging. The checker looked at us like we were aliens. I just laughed.

One of my classmates (who happens to be my “neighbor”) bought a MacBook power converter and gave me one of them, since 2 come in a box. Sweet! I was finally able to charge my computer…it’s been dead since Poland. Still working out the Internet thing though. I know there’s a ward that meets out here tomorrow, but I’m not sure how to find it…I know it’s outside of town, but I have no idea of how to get to the building. Even if I call the contact that Sylvia gave me, I don’t know what to tell them. I don’t know our address, so even if they offered to pick me up, I couldn’t tell them where to come. I might borrow someone’s Internet connection and call for a taxi. We’ll see.

I know it sounds like a mess, but I’m having the time of my life! This is so exciting and I love having to figure things out like bus schedules, different currencies, basic surviving. I am so excited to start classes on Tuesday! Monday we have our orientation that goes from 11-9pm. I can’t wait!!

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