Blog entry 1: It will soon start
48 days until the flight - when I received this message with my booking confirmation, I danced around my flat for five minutes. After almost a year since the application process at the university, the proximity of the departure date seems absolutely unreal. 48 days later and after a lot of organisational stuff - from packing things, organising moving out and saying goodbye to Würzburg - I'm sitting at the airport waiting for my departure.
Me - that's Pia, 24 years old and an architecture student. I grew up on the Baltic Sea and after six years in Würzburg, I have been missing the sea, so it was clear to me that my semester abroad should take me back to the coast. Although I had never been to Porto before, the architecture and the landscape shaped by the Atlantic Ocean and the Duoro River fascinate me from the pictures you find on the Internet and in travel guides. The facades with beautiful tiles and the charming hillside location alongside the river, which is crossed by impressive bridges, are particularly impressive. After studying in the wine city of Würzburg, I'm also quite happy to be back in a wine region for my semester abroad. The group from my Portuguese language course was also very enthusiastic about my choice and provided me with more pictures and travel tips. Despite the language course, communicating in Portuguese does cause me some concern, as the language reads relatively easily but has a rather complex pronunciation. When I first heard about the so-called nasal diphthongs, I briefly doubted my choice of country. In the meantime, however, I am happy about the challenge and, when in doubt, opt for English communication.
However, I'm not really in the mood for communication right now, as I've been sitting at the airport since one o'clock in the morning for my 6 a.m. flight because of my dependence on the Deutsche Bahn. It is now four o'clock and the hustle and bustle at the gate is increasing. A steady background of rolling suitcases and clattering heels punctuate the quiet conversations around me. A larger group is flying together to a wedding in Portugal, next to them sit two backpackers and behind them a retired couple who are excitedly leafing through travel guides. Quite a few people are trying to catch up on a few hours of sleep on the uncomfortable airport benches. Others try to treat their shortage with caffeine, which is why the queue in front of the coffee bar is eternally long. For me, the excitement is enough to keep me awake despite a sleepless night.
For the probably thousandth time, I go through my checklist in my mind. Have I thought of everything when organising? Fortunately, thanks to the university partnership between Würzburg and Porto, much of the planning was taken care of by the International Office. However, with all the documents and signatures to be sent back and forth, it's easy to lose track of everything that still needs to be done. Luckily, I didn't have to worry much about finding a place to stay. Thanks to a friend of one of my friends, I managed to get a room in a shared flat with international 12 people already in May. The discussions in the flat's WhatsApp group already indicate that I will have a lot of fun and action with the group. My biggest fear regarding the semester abroad, that I wouldn't make any social contacts in a foreign city, seems to be unjustified. When I told my boyfriend about my Erasmus plans, he spontaneously decided to join me on the trip. Some friends and family members have also told me they'll be visiting, and by now I'm almost afraid that I won't find the time to make new contacts in the city with all the people visiting me. I was still shaky about subletting my flat in Würzburg, but everything finally worked out. The check mark has been set in my mind.
My thoughts drift to the next point on the checklist. Did I not forget anything important when I packed? Packing five months of life into a travel bag has proven to be quite challenging. While it was clear to me relatively quickly what had to find room in the suitcase without compromise when it came to drawing utensils and books, the selection of clothing for the different seasons and events cost me quite a few nerves. The relief when I was able to hand in my suitcase at the luggage check-in with 22.8 kg at a limit of 23 kg was very great in any case.
Even though I unfortunately can't hand over my thoughts and excitement to the airline as easily as my luggage, I try to relax and let the adventure take its course. Slowly, the excitement is also more and more covered by anticipation and my thoughts about the checklist are being replaced by the song "I'm so excited" in my head. Soon it will start...