Hey everyone, my name is Alex and it has been 10 weeks since my last blog post.
Since we last spoke (or rather, since I last wrote and since you were last bored enough to read it), I have spent almost as much time outside of Germany as I have in it. I’ve visited friends in Manchester, England, taken a spontaneous trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, visited friends in Stuttgart for a few weekends, started my Masters in European Studies – Governance and Regulation at the University of Bonn, signed up for a gym membership (which I tooootally use every day @mom), toured the United Nations Campus in Bonn, had my best friend for a three week visit in my new home, went to my first European soccer game (Dortmund), met up with friends in the Netherlands, learned how to ride a manual dirt bike and how to open a beer using another beer (pretty damn proud of that tbh), spent a weekend actively carb loading on beer and fries and waffles in Belgium, hit up a Chippendales show (bc life wasn’t exciting enough already), hit up the beautiful local Christmas markets that opened up this week, (potentially) failed my EU Law exam, picked up my German visa which will let me stay here for two whole years, and drank a whoooooooole lot… of water. To cope with the hangovers from drinking a whole lot of alcohol. Clearly, it’s been a pretty insane 70 days since I wrote my last post. But it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. In fact, the idea that I packed up all my crap and moved to Germany four whole months ago is honestly unbelievable to me. But it’s been an incredible four months, and I already feel like Bonn is home to me.
So why the sudden desire to write after having been so simultaneously busy and lazy these last few months? Easy. I have to write a research paper this weekend and I’ve already cleaned my apartment, so this is my last-ditch procrastination effort. It’s going well, if you ask me.
In general, life is pretty amazing right now. I wake up every day in one of my favorite places on the planet and that thought alone is enough to bring a smile to my totally-not-a-morning-person face. I spend my weekdays cramming more information into my brain than I ever thought possible whether it be EU Law or Political Economics of European Integration or Inter-Institutional Bargaining, and my weekends are spent with my awesome roommate or wonderful neighbors or amazing classmates… and usually a bottle of wine or two. Each.
My program has introduced me to three amazing women who will probably come up in my posts over the next year so as a quick intro: Dessi is from Bulgaria. We share a deeply rooted love of wine, she’s sassy as hell, and her sense of humor and quick wit are a force to be reckoned with. Amira is German and absolutely brilliant. Our tempers run about the same length before we lose our minds so our venting sessions are legendary, and she gives some kickass advice through a beautiful mix of sarcasm and honesty. Luisa is a lawyer from Colombia and every bit of the tiny and fierce, badass Latina you’re imagining in your head. In all honesty, I have no idea what I would do without these three girls, especially considering how hard this program is trying to kick our collective asses.
For those of you who have asked about the structure of the program in the past, I can finally give you a decent idea of how it works now that I’ve been in it for awhile. Let’s see… Structure wise, it’s kind of insane. I’m getting a masters in one year instead of two, which means I essentially paid (way less than I would have in the States) to be mentally abused for 11 months. It’s awesome. I think pretty much everything (except economics) that we study is fascinating – bc I am an absolute nerd – and I couldn’t be happier with the knowledge I’ve acquired already (through awesome experiences like spending countless hours of banging my head into a wall trying to memorize which Article of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union talks about preliminary ruling procedure). We basically have anywhere from 30 to 40h of lectures over the course of a week and a half to learn from a professor/specialist flown in from anywhere from the Netherlands to Ghana, followed by a week-ish of time off intended for very necessary study time (which may or may not involve running out of food in your apartment but not having time to go to the store for food and eating an entire Lindt chocolate advent calendar for sustenance/Thanksgiving dinner alone at your dining room table while your ass becomes one with your chair and you reminisce on what life was like before you voluntarily put yourself through this hell), followed by 2h of exam time that makes you wish you were never born, fooooollowed by binge drinking. Gotta cope somehow, right? Luckily if you don’t pass the first exam, you have another chance to take it a month or so later, and if you don’t pass that one, you fail out of the program. Super chill. My life will be a blur of exams and essays for the next nine months, the last two of which will be me experiencing death by master’s thesis… But let’s not think about that right now.
In terms of content, we’re all over the place. We study EU law, economics, integration, public policy, fiscal federalism, the list goes on. In terms of difficulty… let’s just say my Econ professor uses the word “obviously” an awful lot while lecturing on the political economy of European integration for a girl with a background in languages and linguistics to whom what he is saying is decidedly not obvious. Like, if you asked me at any point during my bachelor’s while I was working three jobs and taking a full class schedule how I thought I would do that semester, I would probably have answered with confidence that I anticipated all A’s. If you asked me last week when I called my mom losing my mind about my EU Law exam if I thought there was a chance I would actually pass the test… I would have told you no. Still would, btw. Won’t get my results back for another week or so, and my group and I (the girls and two of our friends/classmates Colin and Jean-Vladimir) have agreed to meet up for a drink or twelve depending on how we did. If we passed: drink. If we failed: drink more.
Ah, another thing. I get a lot of people asking me if I’ll move back to the States after my program is over, and the short answer is… no. Are you freaking kidding me? I’ve wanted to move to Germany since I visited for the first time in like 2012. This is the dream, people. I am living the dream. I mean like, I’m broke as hell and constantly wonder why I thought going back to school was a good idea, but like other than that this is the DREAM, folks. I will stay here till they kick me out. Jokes aside, I’ll probably stay in Bonn after graduating in September 2019 and look for jobs with a non-profit organization or the UN or wherever else wants a smartass, trilingual American chick to work for them. The point is, I’m not going anywhere if I have any say in the matter.
But for now, I should probably work on that research paper I mentioned, considering half my classmates have already written it and I haven’t even decided on a topic.
So until next time folx, and hopefully sooner rather than later.
About the Author
Mouth like a sailor, great lacker of empathy, paper cut survivor, avid arguer, harsh critic of people who put clothes on their pets, easily distracte
USA, Mexico, Iceland, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Malta, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, England, Poland, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, Greece
The Baltic countries,
if Covid allows for it (Latvia, Estonia, maybe a stop in Finland)
(in August in the US)