Stepping into a new country, the first thing that runs through your head is the dread of feeling so lost. Everything is an experience you've never had before, everywhere is a place you haven’t explored yet, and everyone’s a stranger you know nothing about. Naturally, you can only start to get overwhelmed by the plans you start spontaneously making, trying to get all this wrapped around your head. Sometimes, however, all you need is a helping hand.
One of my absolute favorite things in Deggendorf is the sense of community you get from all the students. Whether they are exchange students here for a semester or two, or regular students who've integrated into this little town, one thing is for sure: eventually, you'll get to know and befriend everyone. Of course, it all happens in many ways, and it all comes down to preference of which one you think fits you the most. Parties, trips, and hangouts to name a few. However, the one event that helps you settle in is the Orientation Week the International Office organizes for newcomers.
Gathering up at the DIT's campus and seeing crowds of people all in one place after spending so long in quarantine and lockdowns was definitely baffling, but the astonishment it carried was palpable. Strangers from all over the globe stood beneath sunny skies mingling and ready to start their semester abroad, equally anxious and excited. Walking between groups, you pick up the different accents and dialects in everyone's words, and you start to get a hint of where each person may come from. Brazilians laugh it out with some Turkish people; the Spanish and Mexicans fluently communicate with each other (the beauty of shared language!); Koreans, Russians and Italians discuss random topics with remarkable passion.
After waiting for everyone to arrive, we were eventually lined up alongside our group leaders who were now going to tour us around campus. Following them around felt somewhat soothing, because all this gigantic space around me started to shrink and familiarize, and it was being added to one of the places that I just knew. But it didn’t stop there. Not only were we shown around, the group leaders also took the time to help us out with some important paperwork, showing us what to fill in and just making everything less stressful for all of us.
Once the formalities were up and done, we got back to chilling and introducing ourselves to even more new faces, only to realize that we weren't all alone in the way we were feeling, and that everyone here is just as eager to make a friend as the next person. To make it all even more memorable, the group leaders pulled out different flags for all the people gathered together, and instantly we all ran to carry up the colors we represent and have that moment immortalized in a photo.
Ziad Alsurakji - Some random guy from Palestine who loves putting words together and drawing an image in your mind. As I did my exchange semester at DIT, I write about the simple, neglected things in life which just about anyone and everyone can relate to. I also love food, like a lot. So if you can bless my palette with new flavors, let's be friends.