First Week – Pink Week: It Starts.

After I received my Security Clearance (word of advice – always tell the truth) I eventually received my okay to go and therefore I booked my flight. Depending on where you are going or who you are working for, I would say it’s best to first find out if your agency is ready for you before booking your flight. You do not want to arrive in a foreign country where no one is expecting you; it’s scary and a waste of money if you need to rent a place for more than you were willing to stay.

Also expect the unexpected, because the first thing to happen to me when I landed in Frankfurt was that my bag was lost – the one containing all of my clothing. So if something like this happens to you right from the get go, count your winnings and move on – do not fret over something you can not help. Something that I kept in mind while this was happening to me was that I was in Germany ; I thought to myself This place is my passion, and I’m going to be living here!

Needless to say, I brightened up.

Yet once I arrived to the place where I was staying, it suddenly occurred to me that I’d be living by myself for ten weeks; and that is a long time to be alone.

And even though these Rose like flowers welcomed me into my apartment with incredible relevancy (Roses happen to be my favorite flower), I knew that I needed to force myself to go outside as much as possible.

The great thing about this was that to get Wifi around my house, I actually need to walk somewhere to reach it. So therefore, I am literally forced outside my house everyday in order for me to do my homework, and to communicate with my family and friends through Skype (which is essential for anyone who is traveling overseas).

The first week I hardly knew anyone there, so I made sure to set up times with my friends and family for when I wanted to talk to them. It’s important to note that when you are overseas, you will likely face time differences that may affect your ability to communicate with your people back home. So make sure you know your time difference and schedule accordingly. This will be important if you want to keep up with what’s going on back home. Facebook is also a great tool for communication, but make sure you’re professional about what you’re posting. You’re interning for the agency that you’re hoping to actually work for one day. This applies for Skype too – keep what you’re talking about PG and anything above that there is a type function.

When I wasn’t at my Wifi Place, I was in Frankfurt trying to scope out the place. My mother found a great walking tour called Frankfurt on Foot which only cost 10 Euro and it was amazing. Here are some of the highlights:

This is Sachenhausen, essentially where you go late at night.

This is Frankfurt’s skyline, practically the only skyline in Europe; thus why it is nicknamed “Mainhatten”. And that’s me, if you wanted to know what I look like. I’m actually lookin’ pretty good that day.

Look familiar? This is Romer; Frankfurt’s ‘Time Square’ so to speak since it’s the most visited spot since it’s the most recognizable. It houses some of the older buildings that survived the war. But none of the buildings you see here are original, there were all rebuild (and still being revamped as you can see).

This is “Cookie in the Box”, and if you’re ever in Frankfurt you need to visit this place because they literally have some of the best confectioneries and coffee around.

The tour was amazing and I learned so much about the city. Knowing the area where you are living in has more benefits than you can imagine. I knew more about Frankfurt than most of my co-workers, and this was great since I ended up taking them places that were recommended to me by a local (this is important, make sure you get a local tour guide), and they subsequently loved them. You need to have an edge, and knowing the place you’re living in is certainly an edge.

This post is getting long, so I’ll end with the final lesson I learned my first week living there. Unfortunately working in a US operated agency means that a lot of people will be speaking English- something you need to avoid doing. Listening is a very important thing to note. Even when you’re on the subway, even though it’s tempting to plug in your headphones and zone out, don’t. Eavesdropping is obviously rude, but when you’re trying to learn a language , listening and reading people and things around you is just natural. Just don’t be creepy about it.

This is how you’ll learn, listening and reading will eventually help with speaking. Because once you know the word, you can fill in that gap when you start speaking it. I’m currently going through this process now, and even though it’s slow, it works.

Your first week will be the longest. It’s when you take in where you’re living, where you’re working, who you’re working with, who you’re living with, and everything else I described. But the key thing is to take it slow, and really absorb what’s going on around you. Stay focused essentially; realize that while you may have the support of your agency, you’re essentially on your own. However this does not have to be scary, but the first week it might seem that way.

But by the end of the week, when you’re settled in and familiar with your area, you’ll start to realize that it’s actually liberating.

All pictures belong to Theresa Stromberg and may not be used outside of this blog without permission.

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