Sunday, October 7, 2012

One week in Bonn

Actually, since I only arrived on Tuesday, I guess that would be six days in Bonn. It is crazy how time flies when you start somewhere new. Making friends, getting administrative things tied down, and just trying to organize your life takes over and lets you fall into bed every night exhausted, though your mind keeps circling through your to-do lists incessantly... Let's see, what are my first impressions of Bonn? 

  • Actually, I am kind of blown away by 1) how pretty and 2) how cultured Bonn is. When we went to the Einwohnermeldeamt to officially register our residency here they gave us a booklet with 300 coupons for all kinds of museums, theatres, concerts, attractions... The list goes on and on and we get free entries or massive discounts to all of them. Very exciting. I foresee a lot of exploration-weekends. As to the pretty part... 
You see awesome houses wherever you look up.

There are random castles in the city center. 

the Münster looks like a fairy tale castle from this angle.

  •  My fellow AFEPians turned out to be the most wonderful people and I am sure we will become very close friends. They also made me a little scared for the beginning of class since they are all super accomplished and/or have extensive agro-economic background. In our introduction session, the organizing prof said "the people with econ background should focus on the agricultural and food side, and the people with agri background focus on the economics - so you will all have a lot to do." He somehow didn't mention people with an IR background. I guess I will just focus on everything. 
  • It is pretty awesome to be a German in an international program in Germany. I love startling people by listening to them explain something in English and then following up with a question in German. 
  • The small pleasures in life become more apparent when you move places with limited belongings. I was pretty exuberant about finding and buying not-super-expensive sheets for my bed the other day. Before that I was sleeping on my towel since my study buddy warned me that "you never know who slept on your bed before." So sheets - and yellow ones to top things off - were a pretty big accomplishment. Also - spoons. I still don't own a large spoon because the cheap place that I got all my other house ware ran out of spoons and I don't see why I should spend 4 Euros on one single household item. I am really craving soup though. Sigh. Life is hard.
  • Greatest decision of the week #1: Getting a bike straight away. Bonn is a super bikable city with separate bike lanes everywhere and it is so much more fun to get to know the city than by public transport. Today for example, I went for a ride and found both a Herbstfest (autumn festival) at the Botanic Gardens: 

They were presenting local apple variations. 

Kiwi tree!

all the stuff they grow

... and found the largest park of the town just next to the Rhine: 

shared with a gazillion ducks

Apparently, you can even follow the Rhine all the way to Cologne! 

  • Greatest decision of the week #2: Starting the cultured life with a bang. Bonn is the birthplace of Beethoven and they are super proud of it, so they have a Beethoven festival every year in September and early October, and we managed to catch the last weekend of it! The organizers had this great student deal where they reserved a certain number of tickets (of the normal range between 40 and 120 Euros) and gave them away an hour before the performance for 8 Euros. Eight. On Saturday, a friend and I went to hear (and see) the Fifth and Eighth Symphonies, and today the Ninth (with the Ode an die Freude, nowadays the European hymn.) It was beyond incredible. We had seats in the first row the first night, next to an elderly gentleman who had paid 93 Euros for his seat. And the second night, we had separate tickets but I was sitting in the fourth row, with a great view of the orchestra and conductor-extraordinaire Esa-Pekka Salonen. What a way to start a great year!