I can’t believe it’s already the last day of April! Things have gone by so quickly, and so much has happened. Here’s a quick overview of what has been going on since my last post.
After spending a month in Ghana, my sister and I went on a short trip in Europe as a vacation of sorts before my semester in Germany. Our first destination was the beautiful city of Brussels in Belgium. It was there that I learned about the two different languages that are spoken in the country. Dutch is spoken in the north, while French is spoken in the south. The area around the capital is officially bilingual, but I found that French was the more common language. After a few days in the capital, we headed to Ghent in the north. The highlight of this leg of the trip was riding bikes throughout the city. The freedom of biking while passing impressive historical monuments like the Gravensteen at almost every corner is something I will never forget.
The next stop after spending almost a week in Belgium was Luxembourg. We didn’t have a lot of time so we decided to visit the capital, Luxembourg City. The area surrounding the hostel we stayed at was breathtaking, and our breath was literally taken away each time we hiked up and down the steep sidewalks scattered throughout the city. The distinct image ingrained in my mind is an old fortress wall in front of us and a towering bridge stretching across the other side of the valley. Below there is a skateboard park that serves as a stark contrast to the antique buildings and roads nearby in the city center.
The next leg of the trip was from Luxembourg City to Aachen, Germany. To reach Aachen, we had to first travel through Belgium once again, and then take another train from Liège to reach our final destination. Aachen sits near the border tripoint of German, Belgium, and the Netherlands. I really enjoyed the fact that a 20-minute bus ride from the city center could take us to the border with the Netherlands. The city itself was really beautiful, and it was a relief to finally only hear one language (German!). Up to this point, we had always been in an area where multiple languages are spoken*.
The small trip from Aachen to Bochum lasted a few hours. I was extremely excited to finally get to know the city I had done so much research on before. After arriving in Bochum and resting for a few days, I began my official orientation course at the Ruhr University of Bochum. Over the next three weeks I had the opportunity to participate in a German language course as well as many other excursions throughout the surrounding Ruhr region during the evenings and weekends. My personal favorite was probably the Zeche (coal mine) Zollverein in the nearby city of Essen. As a Mechanical Engineering student, the machines that we learned about were fascinating to me. I had never thought so much about all that goes on inside a coal mine!
This blog post is getting pretty long, so I’ll talk about my trips to other European countries and the first few weeks of classes in a separate post. Be prepared to hear back from me in the next week or two!
* In Ghent (Flanders) there is technically only one official language, but Dutch speakers are very fluent in English so you’ll hear both from natives.