My first full week in Germany is over and there has been a lot to take in.
The short story of it all is that it’s been a pretty sweet experience so far!
I arrived on Friday morning carrying two heavy luggages and a marginal knowledge of the German language. With luck and persistent resistance, I managed to come away with not speaking German for three days until the Monday when I had to commute to work for the first time.
My ability to mess simple things up was in full force on that first commute when a thirty minute journey took me an hour and a quarter. No big deal as it was only my first day.
Other than that, it’s actually been a smooth and slick experience (almost worryingly!). My apartment was handed over to me on time – with no problems except for the internet – and I’ve managed to drive around the city without causing any damage to the environment or a human being. I will post separately the quirks of driving in German roads from a British point of view (SPOILER ALERT: It ain’t the same).
I’m pretty lucky to move to a city that I’m not completely alien to. I’ve been to Stuttgart a couple of times before already, and the friends I’ve made through working for a German company has given me great links to people living in and around the area. For example, I’ve already managed to play tennis (for the first time on clay!) and badminton with a friend I met during my internship with Bosch two years ago. And those connections do not stop there (see photo below from a few days ago).
The less dashing young man in the photo is Tom and hats off to him for having already gone through the process of being a Deutschland newbie – I’m now utilising his experience, including tackling German right-hand traffic, anti-clockwise roundabouts, and fixing convertible roofs. Cheers buddy.
The location of the apartment is brilliant, the parking isn’t. Since the neighbourhood is basically a choke full of flats, it’s no wonder the ratio of parking space to users is very low. Couple that with the fact that it is free parking along the street, then you’re guaranteed to struggle to find space. Having said that, the most I’ve spent looking for space is 10 minutes, which I’ve been told is pretty good. Also, the 3-minute walk to the main plaza is good enough to overcome this con, with the city centre being a 3-minute ‘u-bahn‘ journey.
Normally I would moan about having to take public transport to work but it’s been great so far, and if I time it well I can get to my desk at the office from my door in thirty minutes. It is also reasonably cheap – I’m paying around 76 euros for an unlimited monthly pass that covers the first two central zones in the city. It wasn’t easy to get this pass though, having required to give a passport photo (which cost 17 freaking euros!!) and queueing up for one hour at the main station.
So overall there are a lot of things to like about the country in the nine days that I’ve been here. There is an infinite amount more to explore and the aim is to fit as much as possible within the time frame of six months. This includes visits to Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Freiburg, Vienna, Christmas markets, Europa Park, skiing, and plenty more, including the next big event: