At the airport there was an unexpected delay. The snow at Manchester had iced the runways and so there were a few cancellations. Fortunately mine was not cancelled but it was delayed. It was my first time at an airport. I was initially a bit worried about where to go and what to do. It was also my first genuine experience of being fully in charge and having full responsibility to get to my destination etc.
When I arrived in Dusseldorf, it was quite late. It was very cold, there was an air of trepidation about me. Another giant airport, it was quite scary. But also because of the fact I was in Germany now and left English speaking England behind. It was the first instance of my being fully aware that I had made this happen. Looking back on it now it was a proud achievement.
I had to catch a sky rail type thing to the train station. I then went from the train station to Cologne where I went to the youth hostel. I was quite worried, it was late at night. I could not find the hostel on the map I had printed out. The negative thought that I was in deep trouble occurred. However, I overcame this feeling and as luck would have it, the hostel was just across the road from the train station and the map was not helpful at all. In future I will have to make greater consideration as to how I will feel, or try and predict how I would react in new situations. The skill of anticipating what can go wrong is a useful planning skill.
When I made it to the Hostel it was comforting that I met a nice girl who worked there. She was the first friendly face that I had met there. It was my first experience of a Hostel. They are very relaxed places. The only downside is when you need to sleep but you have people coming in and disturbing you. However, it is probably a price worth paying for such a low cost compared to a normal hotel. There is also the benefit of meeting new people with their own interesting stories.
I had fun finding out the meanings of new German words. Einfaht etc. I also was getting use to the expression of German. In written form, it looks like English. But in German, there is special emphasis on the accent of the language. It was useful to hear the accent of German speakers . I still need to work on attuning ones ear to the language, but I am making progress.
By the time I got back to Dusseldorf I was getting quite worn out. I had a heavy bag and was walking a lot. I think I made a mistake in making too much travelling part of the itinerary. I got to the Hostel and was worn out. I set off to the lecture at the University of Dusseldorf.
I missed the lecture. I got to the university during the middle of the lecture. I was very down at this point. It was cold and dark and I got lost trying to get there. I think I learned to be resilient. Up to that point, the pressure of being in a new country, something I had not experienced, was troubling. It helped that I could talk to my parents. But what also helped was the attitude of not expecting perfection, or that which is beyond, possible grasp; to remain in control. I received the slides from the professor, and they seem very complicated.
On the train to Frankfurt from Dusseldorf I got to see how beautiful the landscape and countryside was. The train followed closely against a river. This is what gave me the impression of great a country Germany was. There were lots of tankers and ships going up and down it. There were lots of picturesque hills with snow on them. It was quite awe inspiring.
At Frankfurt I was approached by a man. He came up to me and got rather too close. He must have known or seen me acting like a tourist. I left as quickly as I could. It may be the case that unscrupulous people watch for tourists at the train station.
I went into a tourist centre. I asked about a map. Again the Google map which I printed off seemed to have given me horrible directions. The woman exclaimed at how inaccurate it was. Luckily there was the advice centre nearby. I made my way around the city. I looked in on a bookshop. I made it to the hostel near the check in time.
When I arrived back at Manchester airport, it was quite weird. When listening to other people speak, I was still looking out for and trying to interpret in German. A rather unfortunate difference was the unfriendly greeting from groups of police and a sniffer dog, although the dog was quite cute. Another difference was noticing how poor Britain’s railway system is compared to Germany’s.
On reflection, the success of the trip was based on detailed planning. However I made the mistake or had the oversight of how tired I would be. This affected my ability to be productive, and see as much as I could have. It would have been better not to cover as much distance as I did. What can appear efficient on paper can be inefficient in reality. This again comes back to the idea of imagining yourself in a situation to find problems. But of course there are limits to what can be predicted about an unknown situation.
I would definitely like to go back. I will continue to learn German. The trip has given me the incentive to learn more and be able to get more out of being in Germany. I will definitely consider studying in Germany and try to find a job there. Perhaps go when it is not so cold as well.