It’s been about six weeks since I arrived at Raleigh, where I am finishing the second part of my studies. For me it has been the biggest adventure of my life so far: 5000 miles away from family and friends, in a country that speaks a language different to my mother tongue.
Since I have already been to the States before and have watched like billions of series and movies staring at U.S. universities I thought: “It can’t be that different to my expectations.”
Well, while some of my Netflix-based assumptions turned out to be true and others to be wrong, and I am still waiting for Hardin Scott to knock on my door, I have to admit to myself that there are things I have never thought about before arriving or would not have guessed that they affect me that much.
So if you are an European like me who is about to go to the States or an American who would like to go to Europe or maybe even Germany, here are some things you might want to know.
First things first and it might sound stupid but bed sheets.
I am not exaggerating when I say I spent two hours standing in Walmart trying to figure out the whole bedding system. “What is a comforter? Do I need a four or six piece sheet set? Is my bed size Queen or King or Full Queen??” There have only been a few other times in my life so far in which I felt more brainless.
You might question yourself now if Germans sleep under rocks – no, we don’t. I promise. In Germany the system is the same for pillows as for blankets. We don’t have a sheet and on top there is the comforter, we have a blanket cover like a pillow cover in which we put the blanket and close it with a zipper. After an eternity of searching for these blanket covers – without success , obviously, I had to realize that this is a German only kind of weird thing.
Next time my head was filled with question marks was just a couple of days later and stayed for like a whole week, the first week of classes. As my first class started and the prof showed us our schedule for the first semester I was like “Quizzes? Four Exams?? Okay wow… Homework, too? Seems like this class has a special structure.” Then the other classes followed and I understood that this is not a special structure, it is the normal structure!
I have not had quizzes since high school, neither have I had to hand in weekly assignments in Germany. The common structure was “you can come to class if you want to, you can study, but no one is going to find out if you slept for two weeks straight as long as you pass your one and only exam in this class at the end of the semester.” Which system is better? I have no idea.It affords for sure a big change of habits and even after six weeks I keep getting haunted by anxiety right before falling asleep that I might miss a deadline.
Last but not least: being underaged – again! This one was for sure not a surprise for me since I knew before arriving here that you have to be 21 for drinking, going to the clubs and so on, which I am not. Yey. In Germany, though, you are allowed to drink beer and wine after turning 16 and are able to go to many clubs; with 18 you are literally allowed to do everything: drink whatever you want, smoke cigarettes and go to every club. So after two years of being free to do all of those things I am now not even allowed to order a wine in a restaurant – something I was allowed to do for four years! Staying at home while my older friends go out to party, that reminds me of the time I still was 15 – one year away from freedom. Does it suck to give up your already gained freedom? Yes, but mostly because it is again something I am not used to anymore! However, we all know how much fun it is to celebrate your age of majority. Well, I know have the opportunity to celebrate it for a second time! And I can not wait to leave my 15-year old me behind – and this time for good!