Ada Abroad: Living and Working in Germany

An online journal recording two years spent as a Fulbright/Pedagogical Exchange Service Teaching Assistant at secondary schools in Germany. (2003-2004 I was in a village near Bautzen; 2004-2005 I will be in Nordrhein-Westfalen.)

Location: Münster, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

I'm an American living in Germany, working as a foreign language assistant at a secondary school. Future plans: getting my Ph.D. (probably in Germanic Linguistics), becoming a professor, living an ethical and meaningful life.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Greetings from Koeln

You had all better appreciate this post, because I had to go through the seventh circle of hell to get here!

Let me explain.

Both flights were fine. My baggage arrived with me. Things were going well, but then the fun began.

1. I had to wander around the airport for at least 15 minutes looking for a place I could change my money. This might not sound bad, but bear in mind that I was pulling/carrying/wearing luggage that weighs, collectively, more than me. Seriously. My luggage weighs approximately 135 pounds (estimating conservatively); I weigh 112 pounds. You do the math.

2. Then, I had an equal amount of trouble figuring out how to get to the underground train station in order to get from Koeln-Bonn Airport to Koeln proper. Still pulling the luggage!

3. Luggage in tow, now at the Koeln Hauptbahnhof (main train station), I had to buy a 10 euro phone card in order to use the pay phones. (The dollar is weaker than the euro now, so this works out to about $12 American.) I needed the phone card to call various Youth Hostels and see whether any might have room for me. Well, I made my first phone call, got an answering machine-- and the telephone automat ate my card. $12 spent for nothing!

4. I got lost in the train station attempting to find the taxis.

5. When I was very close to physical collapse, a nice koelscher Jung (male Cologne native) took pity on me and carried my bags to the taxi. Which he helped me find. An old man yelled at him for not carrying all of it. "Merken Sie nicht, die Dame ist schwach!" yelled the old guy. ("Don't you notice how weak the lady is!") --Ok, so this was a good part. :)

6. The first hostel that I had the cabby take me to no longer exists. So he had to drive me to another one, which of course only cost more money.

But things improved from there. Some kindly Albertans (people from the province of Alberta, Canada-- not some weird religious order!) took me under their wing, helped me find a grocery store and gave me sight-seeing advice. So I ate and then saw the sights.

Interesting things I've seen today:
-There was a lady with facial tattoos in the airport. She looked Berber. (Some Berber tribes practice that sort of thing.)
-I visited the famous Koelner Dom (cathedral) and climbed all 500 steps to the top-- and then climbed back down. And then sat in the cathedral for about 45 minutes catching my breath.
-The restaurant next door to my hostel is called "Ristorante da Damiano." Those of you from the German program will understand why this amuses me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the name of the restaurant! Hope you slept like a log, I know I would have after a day like you had. Mom :)

2:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


If this is the start of your trip, just think, it can only get better. Good luck with your jet lag. Judy, Scott and Elyse

2:42 PM  
Blogger Ada said...

I slept like a log last night (for 12 hours!) and am doing better today. Köln is gorgeous!

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you made it and weren't next to incontinent children! Yay! I've been trying to survive this week. I keep hoping it will just get better... If I were in Köln it would be! Anyhoo, I posted on my diary, so if you want to see a funny picture of me, go ahead and check it out. Enjoy Köln!


4:12 PM  
Blogger Ada said...

No, no incontinent kids, thank God-- just a nice German lady. Unfortunately, though, I STILL couldn't sleep, because my seat didn't recline at all. UGH! I think I made up for it last night though. By the way, Kim, I took a picture for you today! I'm not telling you what it was of, though... you'll see when I mail it to you!

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