By Miranda Metheny
The first few days and nights of a semester abroad can be a little bit like camping. No matter how good your packing list or how big your suitcase, there are inevitably going to be certain comforts it makes more sense to buy, borrow, or just do without than it does to bring along. Cookware and tableware, bed coverings, a trash can, and other items fall into this category. The situation is complicated by the fact that when you first arrive, you don’t know the right stores to buy anything or how to get to them. By the time I arrived at my dorm today, it was already 3 o’clock. Shops close early in Germany, often at 5, and I didn’t even have anything to eat for dinner, so I had to get going.
After a fifteen minute walk into the unknown, I found a grocery store where I bought English Muffins, cheese and butter, and several microwaveable meals. There was a pile of dishes in the dorm kitchen which looked suspiciously communal, but, not wanting to take any chances, I ate my chosen meal of Putenmedaillon mit Kartoffeln (turkey medallions with potatoes, apparently) with tap-water in my metal water-bottle and the tiny fork and spoon I packed inside of it.
I was less successful in my attempt to find blankets or other bed supplies. I have my hostel sleep sack with me, but facing an empty cot in winter is going to need more than silk sheets. I’ll most likely end up sleeping in the underarmour and wool socks I brought for skiing, and using my scarf for a pillow. It’s not exactly ideal, but it’s fun (in a Girl-Scout sort of way) to have to make-do, and to realize how little you really need to get by.