Bielefeld has become a home away from home

When I first got to Germany, I stepped off the plane and, not long after, boarded my first-ever train. As I watched the passing scenery, I was filled with a sense of awe. Now, many months later, that awe has not disappeared. If anything, it has increased. So different, yet so similar; a new place with new people and a new culture. It’s absolutely beautiful. I now have friends from all over the world. This trip has really only just begun, but I’ve already learned so much. People are the same at the core, no matter where they are from.

My first experience in Germany happened to be at the airport train station while I was waiting for the train. An older gentleman tried to offer me help, as I’m sure I looked completely exhausted and confused. He spoke no English, and I spoke no German, but somehow we made do with hand gestures and smiles. The language barrier at that moment did not matter. It was a gesture of kindness that needed no translation and made me feel more comfortable about having just crossed an ocean to a new and unfamiliar land.

It hasn’t been without its hardships, though. I had some problems getting registered and managing classes at first, but in the end, it all worked out. I just had to have patience and learn to ask the right people for help. Traveling by train and public transportation was a struggle at first for me. If it were not for the Deustch Bahn app and the kindness of others, I would have had a much rougher time. I’m used to cars and airplanes, so everything else — trams, trains, buses — was new to me, and having to start figuring it all out while sleep-deprived and jet-lagged was not the best experience. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve wanted to rip my hair out because I’ve gotten on the wrong train or missed my connection. I’ve dealt with a lot of confusion and frustration concerning trains and other modes of public transportation. I’ve finally gotten used to it for the most part, and now have more confidence when I travel by myself.

There are definitely times when I fight loneliness, and sometimes I long for home and old friends. Even then, though, I would never give up this experience or change my decision to come here. I’ve grown. I’ve learned how to stand more firmly on my own two feet. I’ve gained new friends and memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. Bielefeld has become a home away from home. It has wormed its way into my heart, and I’m never letting go of what this small city has taught me. The next semester, I am sure, will continue to have its ups and downs. This time, though, I am more prepared and self-confident.

I will take what comes and learn, grow, and expand from it. I am eternally grateful for having been given the chance to live my dream and expand my horizon.