My heart pounded in my chest that morning. Blearily eyed, I wandered the house in the dim dusk light, packing my last things. I felt somewhere between nautious with stress of the unknown, and excited to finally reach Berlin to start my year of German adventures. So, with my as yet unopened English-German dictionary in hand and my one meagre suitcase full of not nearly enough home-comforts, I set off.
Well, I first set off first in the car with parents and dogs in tow. After a tearful goodbye and a last gaze at the crisp Scottish hills, I boarded the first bus to take me to Glasgow because unfortunately flight prices from nearby Aberdeen were unreasonable. And after three hours I boarded my second bus to take me to the airport. Then after the long process of checking in and finding the gate, I finally found my flight. Or at least the queue for it.... we waited for almost an hour as per budget airline expectations. But this gave me a chance to think, or rather anxiously over-think. To stress needlessly about the unknowns. But also to listen with curious dread to the conversations of German fellow passengers. And to realise I didn't understand a word! But eventually the flight went up and came down, all taking far too long for a stressed out girl who is slightly scared of flying.
Now, just to get my suitcase and my tired deflated self to my flat in Neukolln and all the stress and anxiety would be over. I entered a taxi with a Deutsch-only speaking taxi and communicated my destination though an address written on a street of paper. Otherwise I sat in silence with wide nervous eyes in the back, hoping like hell he would take me to the right place. And fate was in my favour: when I arrived, another EVS volunteer, my neighbour as it happens, was by the door and helped my up the multitude of stair cases with my cumbersome bags to just outside my door.
And then she was gone with a smile and a wave, off to meet a friend. And I was alone with a doorbell, beyond which as my new flatmate (and I hoped my new friend) and my new home. So with a big breath, I rang: 'BUZZZ'. And I waited. And I rang. And I waited. Repeat 100 times... This is where the day goes downhill and I'm left sitting on my suitcase in a dark foreign stairwell three hours later on the phone to my family almost in tears. I may have found my flat but that doesn't mean I can enter. A solidly engineered German door stood barring my way into my new life. My flatmate was meant to be in but no answer and in my exhausted state I was getting desperate. Resigned to my fate, I eventually had to be brave and ring my volunteer co-ordinator (on the evening of his birthday to my mortification). And in another long half an hour or so, he ran up the stairs, was thankfully super understanding and let me in to sleep in the neighbouring volunteers flat.
So, still stressed and with unanswered questions about my living conditions still plaguing me, I laid myself to sleep in a stranger's room with my stuff still scrunched in my suitcase, hoping and praying for a better day tomorrow! Because it couldn't have gone less to plan really. But I was in Berlin and ready to throw myself into the ESC experience for my first time living abroad without my family.
P.S. I got into my lovely big room complete with balcony early the next morning and could finally start to settle in. It turns out my flatmate had just travelled to Berlin from Indonesia and had been so jet-lagged that she'd fallen so fast-asleep that the doorbell couldn't wake her, poor thing!