A look back on the first 30 days and on some nearby cities.
07.02.2016 - 08.02.2016 45 °F
As promised, this entry will include a description of my first trip to Cologne as well as the festival of Karneval, which is an unbelievably exciting spectacle for millions of Germans every year before Lent, as well as some thoughts about the first month of my time here.
Cologne (Köln) is a large city (really it's one of several big cities in a metropolitan area in the western part of the country) that hosts a festival called Karneval annually. Apparently over two million people travel to the city and its surrounding areas every year, excluding the people that actually live there. The best way I can describe the holiday is a week long mix of Halloween and 4th of July--take the parades and confetti and excitement of the latter and mix it with the crazy costumes and antics of the former. I went to the festival for two days this past weekend, the first to a slightly smaller neighbor city called Bonn, and the second to Cologne. Both days were a blast but wipe you out real fast. I mentioned we had already made the trip to Cologne earlier in the month--it was the first weekend after my dad left in early January. While we originally only planned to stay a night, a booking error with the hostel left us with half the rooms and forced us to stay for two nights. The first night we had a room that was only meant for four, so naturally, we fit 10 people. There were two soft box springs under a couple of the mattresses that we turned into a bed each, making the count 6, and the rest of us shared. It was here that I was told I was sleeping like a business man (by laying with my arms crossed), dreaming of my 401k going up. I'm okay with that. The second night was truly a taste of luxury; we were upgraded to a 6 bed room in a completely empty part of the hostel, and only two had to share. Our one full day was filled with shopping, eating, exploring, and a tour of the Lindt Chocolate factory. We found an excellent hole-in-the-wall bar full of older people dressed like sailors, who were some of the nicest Germans we've encountered--we brought playing cards, sat at a big round table, and got several free rounds on the house. It was a memorable weekend indeed.
So I've been in Germany since the 3rd of January. I've been on a few trips within the country (Marksburg, Cologne, Bonn) and one outside of it (Amsterdam). I've made a ton of friends, and I'm really excited to be doing all of this while at a pretty great school. I am working a part time internship with a prestigious German automotive supplier called ZF TRW, and I think it will set me up nicely for my summer with Ford. Technically I'm learning German, but I still feel like I don't know anything! I also realized a few days ago that I do miss some things from U.S. that I can't find here--my car, my girlfriend, my family and friends, American junk food. Fortunately I'm making a quick jaunt across the ocean next weekend, but more on that later. Being in another country with a different culture and the ability to experience new things all the time is truly an awesome experience, and I wouldn't want it any other way. I can't wait to see what's in store.