Munich Diaries #2 – Woche -11920 words • 10 minute read
So, this is the Erasmus experience I heard so much about
Free of worries, and full of excitement, a new day found me in Munich for the third time this Monday. Although there were still 2 full weeks to go until the first week of classes started, I felt like there is no time to waste, as so many new faces and experiences awaited us on all those events this week.
We started to explore the nearby shops, met as many people as we could, and took part in as much events and happenings as possible.
I felt grateful to have breakfast with other friendly and enthusiastic Biedersteiners1. We watched the online Welcome Events for exchange students together, and explored the surrounding shops and places of interests together.
The many boxes and packs I brought with me started to (slowly, but steadily) find their place in my room or in the shared kitchen. And although there were still about two banana crates packed full of stuff in the middle of my room, and other smaller or bigger things to take care of, I started to make more and more the room I was placed in my home.2
Most of the events we attended were organized by TUMi3. They have an exceptionally team of volunteers, a self-developed website-based app, where you can sign up and pay for events, and a great spirit and attitude. Their quest is to help international students, especially the ones new to the city and the university.
Bowling on Tuesday
Do you know the joke, when the Mexican, the German, the Finnish, the French, the Portuguese, the Belgian, the Dutch and the Hungarian are having dinner?
On Tuesday, we went Bowling in the city. It was quite the experience, even standing outside and waiting for everyone to arrive, while conversations were sparking up between all the international students.
On the bowling court, I found myself in the company of a wonderful and cheerful group of students. Everyone was very kind, communicative, and you could feel it in the air that everyone is just purely happy to be there and meet everyone else. Also, everyone was studying something vastly different, which also spiced up things a lot.
After knocking down all the pins, striking better and better by the minute (and by the beer), when the 2-hour game time came to an end, many of us decided to have dinner somewhere. We decided on the Augustiner Keller, a traditional German restaurant in the center of Munich. Roaming about the city at night was a fresh experience, and the company was great.
We tried very tasty German dishes, and the dinner conversation also proved to be great. Besides chatting about many different things, it was extremely interesting to face prejudices (both the ones I just found out I have, as well as the ones that other people have). It warmed my heart that people really like Budapest – the capital of Hungary. A lot of people have either been there and have fond memories, or plan to go there, or even a combination of these two.
All in all, it was a really fun evening, and I was happy to have spent it with these amazing people I just happened to meet on the bowling court. We parted ways sharing numbers to stay connected via WhatsApp4.
On Wednesday, I started the day with a friend coming over for a coffee and then going together to a campus tour in Munich organized by TUMi. As the crowd was gathering, we just happened to bump into a lovely new friend we just met yesterday on the bowling court, so the three of us grouped up and chatted while exploring the campus.
A really friendly student was showing us around the campus, showing all the cool places – including a movie room and a rooftop café.
After finishing the tour, we decided to go back to the awesome rooftop terrace to grab a coffee and enjoy the beautiful sight of Munich from above.5
After heading back down from the rooftop, we had an appointment to pick up some welcome bags from TUMi (which consisted of a pencil, a pen, a highlighter, a hand sanitizer, a dice with der/die/das on the sides, a bottle and a condom, all of this in a nice linen training bag). Then while visiting the TUM merchandise shop, we bumped into some other people we met yesterday, who were headed to the rooftop terrace, where we just came from. We decided to tag along. As we went up, and found ourselves a nice place to sit at, the rain clouds gave a nice atmosphere to the city. Eventually the rain also started to pour, so we moved in to the safety of the edge of the roof.
After saying goodbye, and arriving back home, we grabbed a beer with a neighbour of mine at the terrace of Biederstein (the same place the wine tasting was taking place last Sunday), and also met a French and a German guy. After having a lovely discussion in the somewhat cold weather, I called it a day and returned to my room.
On Thursday, I took part in an introductory walk in the Olympia Park and the Olympic Village. They told us all about the elective sport courses available at the university while taking a nice walk in the beautiful park.
The Olympic Village was originally constructed for the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, and since then its being used as housing, a big portion of them being student dormitories, often referred to as “Olydorf” of “Studentendorf”.
With all the beautiful, lush greenery, innovative architecture and breath-taking view atop the Olympic Hill, the Olympiapark is a must-see place in Munich.
It always feels great to be in the company of other Erasmus students (who also just arrived), and making new friends from the most unexpected countries.
After I returned to my dormitory, and went out grocery shopping. As I was browsing the vegetable and fruit offer, someone I met before, greeted me warmly. This was my first time to bump into a face I know in the city. It was nothing extraordinary, but still felt nice, and made me feel a bit more at home in this city I just arrived to.
On Friday, I started the day with listening to “Stress-free student life during Corona – module 1”, a two-part online course, organized by my university. The instructor had some great advice on how to get the most out of our student life, and how not to go downhill after the initial burst of excitement of arrival. She phrased this as the “honeymoon” phase of our Erasmus adventure, followed by a cultural shock phase, and then eventually a true “settling in” phase. A really interesting bit was the so-called “reverse cultural shock” when returning home. I am certainly excited to find out how all this will manifest itself eventually for me personally.
I certainly felt being in the “honeymoon” phase, being enchanted by this marvelous city, lovely people and all the new things coming my way. I was throwing myself right into the middle of it all. At least I knew this was not my ordinary and sustainable tempo to live my life at.
In the late afternoon, I was invited join a flatmate of mine and two neighbours to cook and have dinner in the dormitory. It was a lovely experience as we went grocery shopping, cooked a dish previously unknown to me – proposed by my French neighbour, and shared it with other people joining us. One of the highlights was an Italian neighbour chipping in by cooking Tiramisu for dessert. I think we were from 5 different countries (Germany, Italy, Tunisia, France and Hungary), had a great time, talked until late in the evening, discussing really diverse topics – including philosophy, politics, the Arab language and alphabet – and this is also where I learned that Munich is also a great surfing destination.
On Saturday, I laid low, organizing my room, getting my (both physical, and virtual) life in order, took care of some matters of administration, and watched some TV series.
On Sunday, I participated in another TUMi-organized event. They invited us to play Spikeball in the English Garden. Although I heard a lot about the sport, and saw others playing it, I never personally had the chance to try it out.
So, excited about the opportunity to play Spikeball for the first time, I put on my rollerblades and headed into the designated meeting point in the garden.6 I was really proud of myself for carefully packing water, carbohydrates and some other practical stuff for this event. Only after arriving did I notice that I actually forgot to pack my running shoes to change into them.7
After explaining the basic rules, and warming up, a mini tournamnt was organized. I teamed up with an Egyptian, who just started studying aerospace engineering at TUM. Between rounds, we threw a frisbee around with a couple of guys from Israel, and I suddenly realized how much I miss playing Ultimate Frisbee, and how much fun we had playing it back in high school, and then at my home university. I decided right there to look for an Ultimate Frisbee team here in Munich.
The event was really lovely, and we were already playing for a couple of hours before noticing how much time already passed.
Parting ways, I rolled back home tired, but full of energy.
Laying down after such an eventful week, I found myself being grateful for a lot of things. I decided to write them down for myself as a reminder just how lucky I am, not to take any of these things for granted, and most importantly, to appreciate even the smallest things in life as fully as possible.8
All the lovely people, who live in the Biederstein dormitory. ↩︎
Buying a fresh pot of basil was a surprisingly nice touch, and also a delicious addition to my cooking practices. ↩︎
TUMi is a student association at the Technical University of Munich, cooperating closely with the TUM Global & Alumni Office, the ones organizing the Erasmus exchange program at TUM. TUMi is also a part of ESN – the Erasmus Student Network. ↩︎
Yes, WhatsApp is the communication platform in Germany. ↩︎
Actually, as it turns out, the rooftop terrace café is about to shut down due to some administrative/legal matters, which (as we were told by our guide), no one really understands. So even though the terrace is a beautiful site, and the coffee was well-made, and actually really fairly priced (and even discounted for students), probably today was the last day for a long time we had the chance to go up there. Anyway, I think everyone hopes the matter will be resolved, and I certainly hope to return there, as it is the kind of place that you just want to show to all your friends. ↩︎
Although Munich is an unbelievably good place to bike, I still have to figure out the ins and outs for how to “efficiently” rollerblade here, as I often found myself under sub-optimal conditions. In the English Garden for example, often times do the roads turn into dirt roads, leaving no other choice but to “dirt-skate”. ↩︎
Anyway, I never played Spikeball barefoot before anyway, so it was time to try it out. ↩︎