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My New Life in Heidelberg

Hello world,

Happy October and Halloween from beautiful Heidelberg!
dsc09857The first two weeks of uni life in Heidelberg have been quite crammed. Next to some annoying health problems and my courses, which are very interesting but also demanding, I am also already taking Italian classes twice a week, doing sports, I am part of the student body, playing the flute in an orchestra, and doing a lot of activities in my dorm, where I also feel very much at home.

As university student there is always so much going on, so much happening, and so little time to do it all.
dsc09984dsc09961Just this weekend I spent ‘hiking’ — others would call it strolling — around Heidelberg with my dorm squad aka my alternate family. I had so many great conversations with wonderful people, who are from all over the place, who have very different backgrounds, who are studying various majors, who are older and younger than me — although I am the top 3 youngest dormies. As uni students, all of that does not really matter any more — except maybe that the Bavarian and me are constantly making fun of each others’ origins. Overall, we are all on the same page now, though. We all want to make the best out of our youth; see a lot, talk a lot, dance a lot, and learn a lot.

That day we did dance and talk until 2am in our dorm kitchen.
dsc09951Not only is my dorm family great, but I am also intrigued by my major. Finally I am doing something I am actually passionate about. Right now there are still many compulsory freshmen basic courses, however, I am already having so many light bulb moments. While my dorm friends only care to listen a couple of minutes about methodology of American studies, my college mates and I can discuss it for hours in our little Starbucks corner.
dsc09841Maybe this is still just my honeymoon phase. Perhaps it won’t be this great a couple of months from now, when I have to face my first exams. Nevertheless, life is pretty great right now. It is stressful, packed, and intense, and that’s how I like it. Everyday I make new experiences, whether they be good or bad. (They’re mainly good right now.) I hope that at least that won’t stop for the next 2, 5, 50 years.

xo
Layla

Let’s Get Down to Business

Hello world,

Today was the last day of my longest summer break ever.
dsc09803After a great summer, a stressful last two weeks, and an awesome first uni weekend, it’s time to get serious again. Sort of serious. It’s time to go back to structured days, study sessions, and routine, just the uni version this time. To be honest, I am stoked. Aside from it being university, I’ve also really started to miss structure. Travelling and drifting from day to day is amazing, but knowing each day what to expect is also not too bad. The former should be the exception, in my opinion, not the latter.
dsc09809If coming home from uni in the late afternoon looks like this every now and then, I am already completely happy. Heidelberg is stealing more of my heart everyday. I can’t wait for what this town has in store for me.

xo
Layla

First Heidelberg Post

Hello world,

It’s official: I am a university student.
dsc09768dsc09734For about a week now, I’ve been living in Heidelberg, Germany. Most of it I spent trying to reduce my to-do list, which includes a ton of annoying appointments and expensive but depressingly necessary purchases. I am almost done, though, so I can slowly start to call this new place my new place.

It’s weird moving back to Germany after having lived in Switzerland for 10.5 years (with a gap year in Duluth). My mom predicted I would have some sort of culture shock, because I am not used to German grumpiness and directness anymore. She also said I would probably feel more Swiss in Germany, similar to how I feel very German in Switzerland.

Well, I haven’t really had a culture shock so far. On the contrary, I feel so comfortable being surrounded by people who speak the exact same language. It’s so great. It’s the reason I love English so much, too. And I don’t feel very Swiss. When asked about it, I enjoy talking about Switzerland, but I’ve tried to always point out that I am only a ‘paper-Swiss.’ (And even that isn’t official yet.)
dsc09788dsc09731The beauty of Heidelberg certainly helps with my adjustment. My dorm is perfectly located on the less touristy side of the Alte Brücke, the bridge pictured. Most of my fellow students have to commute or — when going out — take the last streetcar to another (uglier) district. Me, I can just ride my bike for five minutes. The upper photo is legitimately the view out of my dorm window. Whaaaat.

I love this town and my dorm. (I can’t really say if I love my major, yet, but it’s looking pretty good.) Everyone at uni and at my dorm is super nice. The atmosphere of a uni city is great. There’s so much going on and I want to do everything. Maybe this is just my honeymoon stage, but I am loving it.

xo
Layla

Thanks for reading.

The Last Week of Summer

Hello world,

Summer has finally ended, even for me after 13 weeks of break. From now on it’s fall and very soon it’s uni.
dsc09676dsc09711Last week I vacationed in the Ticino clinging to summer as if it was my last. I got a tiny bit tan, swam a lot, ate a lot, read a lot, prayed a lot, and spent a lot of time with a lot of great people. It was a good week, although I failed to take many pictures. Even that was too much effort, which is saying enough about how relaxing these last couple of days were. dsc09675However, I did drive. On the way south I accidentally drove across a pass, which was scary. We got amazing views, though, but perhaps it wasn’t worth the stress I caused my dad. I had to surrender the steering wheel to him at the peak. Thankfully, the way back was much more laid back and I did all of the 275 km myself. Yay!

xo
Layla

An End and a Beginning

Hello world,

A great trip has come to an end.
dsc09562dsc09448Until yesterday I was on a big voyage across the North American continent. All on my own I traveled from Basel to Frankfurt to Minneapolis, on to Calgary, and on to Toronto and Washington D.C., back to Reykjavik and Frankfurt eventually taking the train to Bern again. I met up with a lot of old friends on the way, made new friends, and still spent quite some time alone — I loved all three of those experiences.

My stops along the way were particularly different. Going from green, spacious, lonely Alberta to the hassled, crowded, densely developed U.S.-American capital was definitely a challenge. And that was a ton of adjectives right there. dsc09593dsc09492My friend Jess and I discussed whether we prefer taking pictures in an urban or rural setting and our opinions differed. She has always been a city dweller.

D.C. has heaps of photogenic spots, most of which I am sure we have seen. However, there is also a bunch of symbolism, which I like. The upper picture is the Apotheosis of Washington, a fresco by Constantino Brumidi on the inside of the Capitol’s dome. It shows George Washington, first president of the USA. The capital was named after this guy, a state, a university, a ton of bridges and streets, and more than a couple of black babies (as a last name — supposedly nowadays it is the ‘blackest name there is’ according to Wikipedia). Well, this lovely painting pictured shows him becoming a god. This painting, I repeat, is situated in the country’s most important government building.

Also, the U.S. has quite some veterans (because the country’s participated in quite some wars) and their treatment by the government and society is… interesting. They receive appreciation and thanks and literally three holidays a year dedicated to just them, still they don’t seem to get much substantial aid aka money.
dsc09525 dsc09633Jess and I had a great time, though. We went to a baseball game between the Nats and Mets. The Nats lost by a thread. I got a picture with the mascot Abe (all the mascots are important presidents). Jess was terrified of them; childhood trauma.

We went to the National Zoo. The pandas’ cage occupied half of the park’s space while they spent their time sleeping in a corner. The gazelles, oryx, elephants, kudus, cheetahs, lions, and tigers seemed a tad depressed.

On Friday night we didn’t go out, because we weren’t allowed anywhere. Instead we spent the night on the 10th floor balcony complaining about U.S. nightlife laws and discussing life over some sprite.

Saturday we slept until 11am. Around lunch time we had a great brunch next to already drunk (and hungover) people. The flight back home that day with Iceland Air was awesome. They had artificial northern lights on board! Now I really want to go to Iceland. Next summer.
dsc09666bHere is the last post from this memorable trip. Surprisingly, I feel little nostalgia. It was magnificent, but I am not sad it’s over. In fact, that’s been the great thing about this summer: I don’t have to be sad about things coming to an end, since all of my good times have only led to more good times. One highlight is followed by the next. I had a great, great summer; I managed most of the time to really enjoy the moment, whether this was in the Jura, at home, in Minnesota, Canada, or D.C. And now it’s time to get excited about a new stage in my life. Uni. Arg.

But first, let’s go to the Ticino next week.

xo
Layla

Thanks for reading.