First Week

12 minute read

Since this first week has been incredibly busy, it made sense to break it down day by day. I doubt I will do this every week, unless there are tons of things that happen.

Monday – travel

Traveling is brutal. The 11 hour layover in Toronto was probably the worst, but the flights and the bus rides themselves weren’t that bad. Our flights went from Charlottetown to Toronto, Toronto to Reykjavik, then Reykjavik to Munich. I wish we had a longer layover in Iceland, but sadly we had to move immediately from one flight to the next. We booked a FlixBus from the Munich airport to Stuttgart, and then used the local bus system (the x3 line I believe) to get from Stuttgart to Reutlingen. The FlixBus ride was mostly a blur, as I was drifting in and out of sleep the whole way.

When I was awake, somewhere along our FlixBus ride, I noticed a strange large structure just off of the highway. After checking my phone’s GPS, I found out it was the Munich Olympic Stadium! Just a few weeks ago, I had read about Frank Shorter and his gold medal at the Munich Olympics in the marathon, which made this a really cool experience. Frank had an incredible life, and his experience at the Munich Olympics in 1972 are riveting. I would highly recommend that anyone interested check out his book, My Marathon: Reflections on a Gold Medal Life.

Driving by the Munich Olympic Stadium

Once we arrived in Reutlingen, Eduardo cooked us a satisfying meal of rice, lentils, and chicken sausage, which was a great way to end the day. I unpacked a little bit, then proceeded to pass out.

Tuesday – productivity

Tuesday ended up being an incredibly productive day. Once me and Patti were both awake and moving around, we walked around Reutlingen for an hour and waited until Vodafone opened so we could get prepaid phone plans. Our minds were blown by how many things are within a 5 minute walk of our apartment, and by how beautiful the city is.

The main shopping street in Reutlingen

We found a Vodafone with the SIM card for the prepaid plan we wanted, and went home to get that set up. Spoiler alert, it didn’t work until the next day, but we now have data (1.25GB) and texting and calling (limited) for 10 EUR a month!

After that was finished, I went to the town hall to pick up a form and get registered. I ended up walking into the wrong building and had to ask someone for help. They were incredibly helpful, and ended up waiting for me while I got the form to make sure it all went well! I found out that he had recently done an internship in the US for a woodworking company, and he offered to show me around Reutlingen sometime. First impression of Germans: super friendly.

The town hall where we registered

After that, we walked about 500m from our apartment to the weekly market that happens every Tuesday and Saturday. I didn’t get any pictures of it, but hopefully I’ll remember to take some on Saturday when it comes back. There was a vast selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, bread, milk, and dairy, but I only bought some clementines (which were delicious).

Before the bank we had decided to use closed for the day, we walked in and asked if we could open an account. We were lucky enough to get an appointment about 10 minutes after we walked in, and then we spent roughly 30 minutes answering questions and providing information. The only point of confusion was when we were asked for our “Canadian Tax ID Number”. As we later found out, this is the same thing as your SIN (Social Insurance Number). We provided that information, and the bank accounts were opened with no issue.

Finally, I wanted to walk around a little more, so I made a trip to a discount grocery store about 25 minutes away from our apartment. The walk took me past Reutlingen University, and down a trail alongside a stream. While browsing, I found that there is a kind of milk is not refrigerated, and is somehow treated to have an extra long shelf life. That being said, after I got back to the apartment I still immediately put it in the fridge, because who wants warm milk with cereal?

The day ended with a trip to a nearby bar, where we got supper and our first official German beer, Zwiefalter Klosterbrau. It was 10/10, I would highly recommend.

Wednesday – settling in

I ended up sleeping for roughly 10 hours last night, I was way more tired than I thought I was. It felt great though, and my body is starting to get adjusted to German time :pray:

I had haferflocken for breakfast, which was a little bland because I couldn’t find any brown sugar at the grocery store last night, so that has been added to the shopping list.

Having sorted out all of the official immigration / documentation stuff, I had a free afternoon and decided to go for my first German run (I don’t think you need a Strava account to view this, but I could be wrong. If you do, it’s free to make an account, and you can login with Google). Not being very sure of where I wanted to go, I headed towards the grocery store I knew the way to, and saw a hill that looked fun to climb.

Here are some pictures I took along the way.

The bottom of the hill

Halfway up

Another view from halfway up

At the top!

Still at the top

The next hill to climb perhaps?

Why so colorful

Stairs on the way down

After the run, I spent some time updating this post. I’m realizing if I want to keep this blog going I’ll need to make sure I sit down and write as frequently as I can, otherwise I won’t have time to fully write about everything.

Thursday – documentation

Thursday morning, we had an appointment with the immigration office to finalize all our paperwork. It went smoothly, and we are all set up to start the internship now.

In the afternoon, I walked to a different grocery store (E Center), in the hopes that it would have a greater selection than the Aldi I went to earlier in the week. I was not disappointed. It was similar in size to a Superstore, and had almost everything I was looking for. It took around the same amount of time to get there as the Aldi, so I think this will be my go-to grocery store for the time being. On the shopping list: ingredients for ratatouille, which Eduardo had promised to cook later that night :heart_eyes:

Later in the afternoon, we had time to check out a rock climbing facility near Reutlingen! We didn’t have the necessary training to climb the largest and most impressive walls, but we were able to free climb in the smaller room with the padded floor.

Climbing wall on the outside of the building

The main climbing area

Another side of the building

The free climbing room

After rock climbing, I went for another run, with no route planned. I ran to Reutlingen University, and continued on from there, and found a nice lit up loop that I’ll likely return to in the future.

And finally, to cap off the day, Eduardo indeed cooked ratatouille. He’s an incredible cook and we couldn’t thank him enough for blessing us with his talents.

Ratatouille, à la Eduardo

Friday – living life

I finally had everything I needed on Friday morning to make a breakfast similar to what I was used to having on PEI. A full bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar, toast with butter and jam, and a banana. Now that I write it down, it doesn’t sound very exciting, but it was satisfying to eat.

I also got to meet our landlady today, who is a very sweet woman. We added her on WhatsApp (everybody uses WhatsApp in Europe apparently), and chatted for a while.

In the afternoon I went for another run. This time I had planned on running an out and back route to make sure I didn’t get lost, but I ended up finding a park with a wood chip trail around the perimeter. The loop is around 2km, which will be perfect for workouts in the future. Since it was so nice, I decided to try a fartlek workout for the first time in many weeks (3 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy). The trail was great for running, but I felt very out of shape and only got through 20 minutes of the workout before I called it quits. With my legs and lungs feeling dead, I jogged home.

Before I had left to run, I had to try and figure out our German washing machine. After fiddling around menus for a while, I managed to change the language from German to English! This doesn’t sound very exciting, but I’ve really missed seeing English writing.

At night, we checked out the bar across the street from our apartment. There was a soccer game being displayed on the projector, and we got our first taste of how passionate Germans are about watching football. All of us are very excited to watch the Olympics when they come around.

Later at night, around 11pm German time, there was a LAN starting back at UPEI. Me, R.J, and Ali had planned to try and get a Borderlands game working, despite the three of us being in three different time zones (Eastern, Atlantic, and Central European). It worked surprisingly well for me, although there was some lag on their ends. Overall, I’d call it a success.

Ali smiling for the camera

Saturday – chill

The market was open again today, and we made a trip there to purchase fresh ingredients for some supper next week. I forgot to take a picture of it again, if it crosses my mind on Tuesday I’ll take one for sure.

In the early afternoon, we ventured to a new Aldi grocery store. We ended up on the wrong side of a highway and had to walk through some bushes to get to an overpass, but we made it there eventually. It was a little bigger than the other one I had been to, and the prices were still very good.

I debated going for a run later in the afternoon, but decided to take the day off. I don’t want to strain my ankle in any way, and building the mileage back up slowly is the way to go.

At night we checked out the local basketball team, the Reutlingen Ravens, play against the Wieblingen Füchse. It was an incredibly close game, and the Ravens ended up winning by one point after a last second made jump shot. The Füchse had a chance to win it, but missed a contested jump shot as the buzzer sounded.

The Raven's home gym

Courtside seats (on bleachers)

Afterwards, per the recommendation of another Bosch employee, we went to a donair restaurant near our apartment. It was slightly different than donairs I was used to in PEI, the meat didn’t taste as processed, and there were more vegetables served with it. I think it’s an improvement on the Canadian version.

Sunday – more chill

It’s weird to think that I’ve been in Germany for almost a week now. Time has flown by, but I feel like I’ve done a lot with it so far.

Sunday so far has been a very relaxed day. My big adventure was going for another run, this time up a hill that Eduardo had climbed before. It had an old ruined castle on the top of it, and the climb up was steep. It’s called Achalm Castle and it was very interesting to see in person. The view from the top was incredible, as you could see all of Reutlingen and the surrounding countryside. The run and the photos are on Strava, and I’ll put some more photos below as well.

Stairs I took on the way up

Still a long way to the top

Almost there

The main tower of the abandoned castle

Another view of the tower

Panorama from the top (not sure how well this will display on the site but I thought I'd try)

Another view from the top

Stairs I took on the way down

Cool house on the way home

That’s just about everything exciting or noteworthy that happened to me this week. Thanks for reading, and hopefully you’ll hear from me again next Sunday!