Slightly More Intense than Budapest
I was sitting in a shady café on a corner in Izmir, Turkey, trying to avoid the heat of the sun. It was a two-week-long crash course sponsored by Erasmus, and, like with all Erasmus events, there were people from all across Europe and I felt lucky to have been chosen for the team of Corvinus, my university in Hungary. Around us in this city of five million so many people were busy doing so many different things that it was impossible to even begin to grasp it all. I was used to the hustle of big cities. Ever since I graduated from high school, I’ve been living in Budapest where people race for the subway/street car/busjust about to leave by pulling themselves through over others, where more people live in underpasses than I could ever count, where there are so many tourists that they can block the roads by simply not realizing that they haven’t found the perfect spot to stare at their maps on end.
And then, out of the blue, I was offered to spend a semester in Remagen, as a student assistant by one of the attending lecturers of the conference. I knew next to nothing about the place. I was told it’s a nice picaresque town by the Rhine. It’s quite calm and small, but should I have a craving need for something big and exhaust-fume filled, I could hop on the train anytime and ride down to Koblenz or up to either Bonn or Cologne. I said yes, I’d love to come and a few months later, on the 2nd of September 2013, I arrived at what would be my new home for 6 months.
Looking back at it now, these 6 months zoomed past me. It feels like a week but a week so densely packed with joy, adventures and fun that it’s bound to burst anytime. You almost want it to burst. You want to poke at it with a needle and relive those moments/hours/days/weeks over and over again. You want it to invade your life, for it to grab you by the arm and take you back in time – but maybe going back to the place is a more doable alternative!
During my stay a lot of people told me that some students who are playing with the idea of coming here are sometimes scared off by the prospect of living in a town of 10 000. When you’re there already, nothing even remotely related to this fear comes to you. Remagen is anything but boring. It’s a university town with a really closely-knit, inviting and even absorbing student life. Unless you want to get excluded with all your strength, you cannot escape being part of it. Friendships may begin with a shy nod or a smile on the corridor, and then you meet again at badminton practice, in the student pub, on the train, in the library or at one of the many house parties…
Initially, I would have been hesitant to accept this, but I must say that maybe the experience of Remagen was slightly more intense than, but at least in close rivalry to, that of Budapest, which has in the past few years built itself into the number one party city of almost all of Europe.
So, if the “unknown” of living in a smaller town than what you are used to puts doubts in your heart, don’t let this make you regret not going!