Nov 17, 2017 - Amen Ben Ahmouda for SoGerman
Hallo noch einmal Leute!
I’ve officially passed the two-month mark of my exchange trip in Mannheim, Germany! It’s been a great journey full of growth, adventure and culture shock!
Before an exchange, the University of Ottawa offers a mandatory culture workshop to its students going abroad… I remember sitting at the 8 a.m. workshop while the presenter was talking about dealing with culture shock and all I was thinking about was which coffee shop near campus was open so early in the morning! To me, culture shock was synonymized with whiny, inexperienced travellers… or that is what I thought!
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to travel around since I was two months old. I’ve been around North America, Europe, and Africa and have done a three-month exchange in France at 16…. So, jumping to the unknown has been no stranger to me in the past! In fact, I get uncomfortable spending an extended period of time in the comfort of my own hometown Ottawa. Coming to Germany has been on my bucket-list since I’ve started learning German two years ago, so I thought no matter what obstacles come my way… I am in Germany!
Upon arrival, I started putting a positive spin on every hiccup along the way: from not being able to express my frustration at someone cutting me in line (something that never happens back home) to trying to navigate the competitive housing market in a crowded university town. I kept a smile, and took it a day at a time. It wasn’t until I caught a three-week cold and had a break from my hectic schedule, that I was able to sit with myself and realize – I am experiencing a culture shock!
Truthfully, the decision to admit that to myself has been very positive. I stopped comparing my experiences to how things are done back home and took it day by day! Fortunately, I was right: no matter what happens… I am still in Germany!
I realized that one of the reasons I was not adjusting quickly to Germany is because I haven’t been meeting Germans! So, I decided to get more involved in my University and join a club that fits my interests… that’s when a friend recommended: Mannheim Forum. It is a group on campus that organizes an annual conference touching on a variety of topics; from culture to politics to business. There, I met a ton of local students and participated in the team building activities organized for the group.
Aside from the delicious Turkish food available 24/7 (more specifically, “Döner”), and the great student social life that the city offers, Mannheim’s central location is a big plus! So, when I was not attending classes or doing extracurriculars, I have been spending my days taking day trips. I have taken day trips to Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Strasbourg, Schwetzingen, and Cologne! I have also taken longer trips: Vienna, Salzburg, Berlin, Munich, and many more beautiful cities around Germany, and around Europe!
Overall, living in Mannheim has been an amazing experience… In fact, I have adjusted so well to the city and to the country, that I’m avoiding getting a precise countdown of the days I have left here! I am very excited to share with you my next blog!
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