Student Exchange in Munich: Taking Independence To A Whole New Level
I finally set up the Internet on my computer. Today marks the 2nd day of my student exchange in Munich, even as school's not going to start for another month. The past two days were filled with so much learning for me that I just had to start blogging about it the moment my LAN cable worked its magic. Let me start with Day 1, it's easier that way.
Day 1: Creating Your Own Opportunities; Settling Down Smart & Planning Ahead
Creating Your Own Opportunities
I arrived in Germany on a morning via a transit flight from Helsinki, Finland. On the plane I was pretty zonked out because the first leg of the flight (Helsinki-Singapore) was a horrifying 13 hours long and I couldn't sleep much. On the 2nd shorter flight, a man was seated next to me and from the way he dressed, he looked like he was on his way to Munich for a business trip. From our initial 'Hi' the moment we settled down into our seats, I didn't think much about striking a conversation with him at all; I was either going to read a book or try to nap.
Then halfway through the flight, a thought came to me: "What if he's from Munich! Maybe he can tell me more." So no matter how creepy/awkward it seemed (imagine if someone struck a conversation with you after more than an hour of silence), he was a really nice guy! Apparently he's Austrian, lives in Finland, but goes to Munich monthly for business trips. We started chatting and I found out he visited Singapore not too long ago and that was a real pleasant surprise for me. We talked about Singapore, places he visited, places he could have visited, Salzburg, Munich, then more serious issues like politics, religion, the Bible (he studied theology so that was how we got onto that topic)...and then I asked him where he was headed and he said a meeting for his company, so we started talking about his company...and after finding out what his company does, I got mildly interested so *drum roll* I expressed interest for an internship! It's amazing that his company also has an office in Singapore and has been trying to enter the local market. That was where I saw how I could add value I guess. I need to find out more about the company, and there's definitely no guarantee in an internship position, but he gave me his email address so I'll probably drop him an email soon!
Then I confirmed his stereotype on Asians - that Asians are shutter-friendly- by taking a photo with him :D
I really wanted to share this story mainly because:
It really showed me how creating my own opportunities brings me to places I would never expect, and how doing so allowed me to learn a lot of things I did not expect to learn.
Aside from the probable internship opportunity, I learned not only his views on Singapore ("clean" and "everything functions well"), the cool side of theology (studying the content origins of the Bible), but also how being open to things creates many more things. Internship and cultural and opinion exchanges aside, I made a new friend. I invited him to come back to Singapore! Hopefully he does, it will be really great if I could show him around.
Settling Down Smart & Planning Ahead
Okay, this is extremely important. I was so naive to think everything would work out fine on it's own, but really, it will only if I make it so. Why I say this is because I ended off the day lugging 6 1.5 litre bottles of water and a bag full of groceries, detergent and household stuff for about 2km, utterly exhausted and really colourfully expressing my repertoire of swear words.
I was in Marienplatz earlier in the afternoon. Marienplatz is like the equivalent of Orchard Road in Singapore, full of international brands and premium outlets. I desperately needed to buy household stuff like plates, cups and washing materials. But when I went into Kaufhof, something like Robinson's or Isetan where they have everything you need but at high prices, I decided to buy some things despite the price. I was reluctant and thought maybe I should have gone to somewhere cheaper, but the thought of having to find out how to get to someplace foreign, and the hassle and fear of being lost held me back. It was only after I paid did I realize my fear was irrational - I've been travelling to foreign places the whole day, so what am I scared about? It was probably really me setting myself out to fail even before I tried. And that was when I forced myself to go to a further but more budget supermarket to buy the rest of the items. Now that I've achieved it, there's one less thing I would fear to do in the future. Here's where Story 2 comes in.
I found out there was an Aldi near my hostel, which is awesome because I foresee going there a lot to buy groceries. Aldi is somewhat like a Sheng Shiong or a much smaller Walmart where they sell items at low prices. The mistake I made was to overbuy. You know when you're wheeling a big trolley around you just get tempted to fill it up with items? So that was what I did, which I ended up paying for. Because unlike in Singapore, shops in Germany do not give out bags for free. You have to purchase them. I was lucky because I had a big Kaufhof bag from just now, but I really struggled, with my hands already full, to lift and heave back 9 litres of water.
This really taught me the lesson of planning ahead, and I mean mostly for practicalities like grocery shopping or getting essential admin or daily stuff done. It's definitely good not to make this a habit because it kills the joy of doing things at times, but for times like this it's definitely needed. To do things in manageable bits so as to not get overwhelmed, especially when I was already overwhelmed with the thought of settling down in a new city and having to do everyday resident stuff instead of jumping for joy on the streets of Munich like a typical tourist.
I'll get to the bit about letting go of the habit/urge to plan everything ahead and just soaking things up in my next post on Day 2. It's near 9pm here and I've got to settle my dinner.
Tschüss for now!