October 23, 2005

The Students Arrive

Filed under: Germany — Alex Ravenel @ 10:10 am

It’s the end of October, meaning several things. First, I’ve been here almost two months, something I find hard to believe. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been here two months at all. It’s only when I look at a calendar or realize how accustomed to life here I’ve become that I realize that I might indeed have been here that long. Secondly, it means that classes are starting. And this means that the 20,000 students of the Universität Tübingen have arrived.

My first inkling of how much this would change things came on Thursday night, when I went to a party sponsored by the university and thrown at one of its student-union-like buildings. I’d been into this building several times before, usually to get a cup of coffee during breaks in our Sprachkurs, and its slow, drowsy demeanor had done nothing to prepare me for this party. The sheer number of people that had managed to cram themselves into this building was astonishing. It was the sort of thing where in order to move, one had to literally shove his way around, stepping on toes and pushing people into each other and all in a vain attempt to part the Red Sea. I stayed there for about an hour with the friends I had come with, and then decided that I had had enough. Little did I know that it would take me 15 minutes to work my way the 20 meters to the door. The door was one of the standard swinging doors that you would see at any such establishment, except the problem was that it was seemingly the only open door in the place, and there was a mass of people trying to squeeze their way in as well as a mass of people trying to squeeze their way out. As you got closer to it, you lost all ability to move on your own, and were instead moved about in whichever direction the seething mass of people crushing the air out of your lungs decided to move. You would lean into the person in front of you, pushing as hard as you could just to keep from being moved the opposite direction, being successful as often as not.

I finally made my way out and back home. I don’t even want to think about what would have happened had there been a fire–not an impossible occurance, given that everyone smokes, even indoors, and therefore there are no smoke detectors anywhere. I don’t think I’ll be going back to any similar party; I find it hard to enjoy myself when I’m being forcibly smashed into the masses around me. It’s claustrophobic.

Another sign that things are filling up are the dorms. My dorm, once a wasteland reminiscent of the top floors of Davis Library on the weekend, is now full of people. All five of my other suitemates are now here, and I can actually hear other peoples’ voices on a regular basis. Also of note, all of my roommates are girls, something that has been an interesting experience, and something that I don’t expect to become any less interesting in the near future. There was one guy here living over the summer, but he must have moved out at some point–there is now a girl living in what was his room, and his posters on the door are now gone. Unfortunately, the side effect of having people in the dorm is that my internet connection, a shared wireless connection to a DSL modem, has now become unbearably slow, with it often taking minutes for webpages to load. Thankfully, campus internet is coming, but I don’t know how much longer that will take.

Anyways, classes start for me on Tuesday. I still would like to add one more to give me an easier semester in the spring, but that shouldn’t prevent me from keeping my Tuesday/Wednesday schedule, complete with five day weekends every weekend. Go ahead and start hating me now :) Also, Derwin Dubose, a good friend and fraternity brother of mine, has now started his own website that I have been helping him with. He’s already put out several insightful articles in addition to the articles he wrote as a columnist for the Daily Tar Heel, and I look forward to many more. Check it out.

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