Willkommen in Deutschland!

After a week and a half, I still cannot believe I am here! For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by German culture, history, and language. I dreamed of exploring the German countryside, visiting historical monuments and museums, tasting traditional foods, and speaking the German language. When I first stepped off the plane in Munich, I was extremely excited! My dream was finally becoming a reality!

This week was a lot of firsts: first time using public transportation by myself, first week of classes, and first time eating traditional German food. 


In order to arrive at my new home of Schwäbisch Hall, Germany, I had to take a bus from the Munich airport to the city Hauptbahnhof (main train station), a train north to Nuremberg, a connecting train from Nuremberg to Schwäbisch Hall – Hessental, and finally a bus from Schwäbisch Hall – Hessental to Schwäbisch Hall.

I am not going to lie — I was quite nervous! There is very little public transportation in my hometown in rural Minnesota. I have only used it three or four times in my life and always with my family. And now, I would use more trains and buses alone in one day than I had ever used in my life!

Despite my initial uncertainties, I am glad to say, with the help of locals, I made it to Schwäbisch Hall! The Deutsche Bahn train system is fascinating to me because it reflects my perception of German punctuality. Trains are frequent and almost always on time. If an individual reserves a seat on the train, there is an electronic sign above his or her Sitzplatz or seat that identifies where he or she is going. For example, the electronic sign above my Sitzplatz read “Munich to Nuremberg” and the sign above the people across the aisle read “Munich to Hanover.” Everything is organized until the very last detail.

Munich Hauptbahnhof


Schwäbisch Hall is the most beautiful city I have ever seen. It has approximately 37,000 residents and, unlike many German cities, was largely spared from World War II destruction. For this reason, many buildings retain their traditional Fachwerk style, as shown on the buildings on the right in the photo below. The streets are quaint, colorful, and historical, with cafes located nearly on every corner. Everyday it seems as though I am walking through a fairytale!

View of Schwäbisch Hall, Germany at sunset


The Goethe Institut of German language study is only a seven minute walk from my Studentenwohnung (student apartment). Breakfast begins at 7:15AM and classes last from 8:30AM-1:00PM, Monday through Friday. After class, we all share lunch together in the Goethe Cafeteria and try to incorporate new vocabulary and grammar into our conversations.

One of my favorite things about Goethe is its diversity of people. Though my class is only nine people, we represent Taiwan, Russia, Brazil, Algeria, Italy, and the United States. To the surprise of many, German is the only common language we share. It forces everyone to use German at all times, rather than referring to an alternative English translation when something is misunderstood. My teacher is excellent as she is the main vehicle for our understanding of each other and course material.

I am surprised by how much I am learning, not only about the German language, but also about local Schwäbisch culture and traditions. Everyday I only look forward to learning more!

Goethe Institut of Schwäbisch Hall


Earlier this week, I visited the Hällisch-Fränkisches Museum, the city’s history and culture museum. I learned that Schwäbisch Hall was founded in 12th century by the Celts, but was later destroyed by the fire of 1728. Schwäbisch Hall was immediately rebuilt and emerged as the city with the largest salt production and trade industry in all of southwest Germany. In fact, the Celtic word “hall” means salt!

In addition, I also joined the local gym Fair Fitness. It is reasonably priced and only a seven minute walk from my Studentenwohnung (student apartment). I have met several locals and enjoying watching German news as I workout. It has also been a great way to stay active and learn about German exercise culture. Two things that I have learned: many gyms do not have AC and always bring a towel. Fair Fitness does not provide towels and with no AC, the machines can become quite sweaty!