By Colton Hill (University of Heidelberg, Germany).
First of all, for those of you who are familiar with the lyrics, I didn’t actually ride a motorcycle this summer. And for those of you who are unfamiliar with Bob Seger, you’re missing out.
Anyway, some students already abroad or local students reading my entry may be slightly confused when looking at the date of this post. To clarify, the University of Heidelberg officially starts lectures on the 14th of October this year. However, before anyone feels envious, this also means that the Summer Term finishes on the 24th of July. For me, this just means an exchange – gaining time this summer and losing time next summer, as the University of Manchester starts mid-September.
Almost by coincidence, this summer I interned at the University of Mainz, which is only a few hours by train away from Heidelberg.
Not only was this advantageous from a language-learning perspective, but also that I could get a taste of living in Germany. However, like in any country, the customs and cultures can vary widely over the course of only several miles. As a later topic I’ll revisit the specifics of life in Mainz and Heidelberg, comparing them to highlight some regional differences/similarities in Germany, and how they vary to life elsewhere.
But the reason why I mentioned my trip in the summer is that, my pre-departure experience and feelings have been severely altered from the norm, being pre-exposed to the culture out of the University context. I don’t feel any less excited nor do I think my experience will be spoiled, simply that the novelty and anxiety from the unknown has somewhat disappeared (for now).
This means the most significant difference between preparing for my time at the University of Heidelberg and my last two years preparing for term at the University of Manchester is how much I can bring with me (A theme which seems to be well documented in this blog!).
Packing is kind of like Black Jack. If you sit at 17, you might win, but you’ll probably have to buy quite a few things when you arrive. If you hit at 17 you might go over (your weight allowance) and have to pay anyway. But unlike Black Jack, you can cheat and weigh your suitcase ahead of time, carefully balancing size and weight to make sure you get 21 (or 23 kg I guess).
I’ll finish by letting Bob Seger roll it away:
“Stood alone on a mountain top,
Starin’ out at the great divide
I could go east, I could go west,
It was all up to me to decide”