Fernando from Spain
I arrived on an warm afternoon at Cologne Central Station. The city welcomed me with the intimidating embrace of its black cathedral and the sound of the people in transit. Just a prelude of what Germany was going to offer me during my semester a non-stop bombard of stimulation, experiences and challenges.
My hour-long first trip by train informally introduced the German daytime society a coach full of people in perfect silence. Along the way I enjoyed what would be a constant in my German life, the Rhine. Utterly irresistible, the river Rhine bathes a picturesque area, full of woods and little towns, where Remagen is located. Sailing parallel to the railroad, enormous cargo ships and cruise vessels mixed together as a sign of the duality of my new home country.
The first time I came out of the Remagen's train station I found myself opposite to a small, quite cute, quiet town. And as time went by, this impression was reinforced. Remagen is a good place for introspection, study and learn German. On the other hand, the whole Rhineland area is sprinkled with interesting and charming little jewels, worth visiting on a Saturday morning.
The Rhine quietly influences the life of this area, the weather and the landscape. Even though a fascinating blizzard insists on contradicting what I am about to write, the area benefits from a mild weather that lets one enjoy the countryside or a shopping day in the Christmas Market here in Remagen, in Bonn, Koblenz or Cologne.
The overall student life seems to be probably as comfortable and stress-free for both German and incoming students as in many other European countries, full of social activity, lack of money and parties. The educational system might be slightly different from your home country's, but probably based on the same principles lectures, teamwork, quite periodic evaluation, presentations and a final exam.
As any other society, the German society has its own rules, tricks and communication. Overall complex, the life on campus just represents the surface of a vast and deeper way of living. The International Office staff are very reliable as a source for advice and guidance. Let them orient you.
Germany has been very successful introducing other national cuisines. In addition to the delicious national specialties and their carefully-prepared dishes and wines, one is able to enjoy Turkish, Mexican, Italian, Oriental, Irish... cuisines at an affordable price. All this accompanied with the local beer, the Kölsch.
Germans in this area definitely enjoy having fun. And that is not circumscribed to young people. On a Friday night one can share the train with a 50 year old bunch singing out of their lungs and trying to have a date with one the following day. Enjoy the moment with humor, refuse the date and ask for a free beer.
Barely anything has become as useful as my bicycle. It was the first thing I received from the International Office and it is surely the last one I will return. Offering independence, and a quick & safe way to go shopping or reach Remagen's Central Station, the bicycle will let you have day-long excursions or have a different perspective from Bonn or Cologne. One can take it along even on the train.
My experience in Germany so far has been positive, full of unexpected lessons and surprising challenges. I would recommend it to any person willing to improve hisher knowledge of this beautiful language, looking for challenges or longing to improve oneself.
- Fernando Reyero Noya (León, Spain)