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Vallendar Living

Hi everyone!

I can’t believe I’m already halfway through my semester at WHU. So far, most of my blog has been about my experiences in getting new experiences, within and outside Germany. There will be more, I assure you, so stay tuned! But for this time, I want to show you more about my daily life in Germany.

Living Accommodations

So when you Google the name of the place where I live in, you get this:

Haus Wildburg
Haus Wildburg

That’s partly true. Haus Wildburg is a property owned by the Marien nuns who work and live in this building as well as the housing units immediately behind it past the metal gate. We live past the gate, past where the nuns live, up a little hill to the student dormitory section.

Haus Wildburg is one of the cheapest housing options available to Tauschies at WHU. For 335 Euros per month (which, I now know, is very over priced in Germany) you get this:

Single unit, with one bed, a closet, a desk, a sink, and a radiator. Oh and a chair.
Single unit, with one bed, a closet, a desk, a sink, and a radiator. Oh and a chair.

As well as usage of the kitchens and common areas, which are essentially lounges. The facilities are old, but they get the job done. It’s small, but for me, it’s enough. I don’t take up much space anyway. (Haha)

I live with nine other students, most of whom are from America, so it didn’t take much adjusting to get along. It’s nice living with other people. When I go down to the kitchen to cook dinner (which I never did back in Hawaii because there was always the cafeteria that served buffet style meals), I would usually hear the boys in their kitchen, and it almost always smells amazing. No joke. The guys can really cook.

Which reminds me of the peculiarities of Wildburg. There are separate common areas and kitchens according to gender: one each for male and female. For laundry, we have to pay four 50-cent coins to use the washer and 3 coins for the dryer. That means one load of laundry will cost 3.50 Euros. Eek! Also, the nuns are VERY diligent landlords, and coupled with the fact they speak close to no English, makes things at times quite interesting.

Food

I know Europe has a reputation for being expensive, and I can validate that because I’ve been to some very expensive places (but nice ones. More on that later), but at least compared to Hawaii, groceries are very cheap here. I rarely spend more than 10 Euros on groceries, even at the most expensive store nearby campus, and that can last me for over a week. There are a few main places to go shopping for essentials at:

1) REWE (pronounced like “RAY-VUH”): the newest store in town, a few steps from school, and the closest store to home. Also the most expensive. But if you buy the Ja! brand, it’s like Safeway Select, or Kirkland Signature, or the CVS brand. You get it for cheaper – about the cheapest it gets.

2) Lidl (pronounced like “needle” with an ‘L’): A few minutes from campus not far from the Vallendar train station. It looks like a warehouse, and you can usually find cheaper produce and goods here than at REWE. But if you get Ja! from REWE, it’s comparable.

3) Aldi & Netto: Two separate stores, literally side-by-side, only divided by a parking lot between them. They’re about the same distance from school as Lidl (a bit further) but in the opposite direction. You can probably some of the best deals at these two places as well as good variety. For me though, it’s just really far to walk with a bunch of groceries.

The German diet consists of a lot of meat (yes, wurst), which I ate a lot of during my first few weeks here. Now that I cook a lot, with one good meal a day, I can save a lot of money. My home-cooked dinners have cost me no more than 2 Euros. Actually closer to 1 Euro, with pasta, meat, and veggies.

School

Compared to most campuses I’ve been to, WHU is actually quite small, which is nice because I’ll never have to rush from class to another. Every room is clean, well-lit, and new. The school has only been around for three decades, but it has already maintained a solid reputation for rigor and excellence for years.

The largest lecture hall at WHU. Not the most comfortable one.
The largest lecture hall at WHU. Not the most comfortable one.
Another lecture hall. Smaller but with better seats ^^
Another lecture hall. Smaller but with better seats ^^

And this is one of my favorite places on campus (aside from the library that is accessible 24/7):

The WHU chapel. Anyone is welcome to play the piano as he/she wishes. It is, however, not a sanctified chapel.  Image courtesy of Google.
The WHU chapel. Anyone is welcome to play the piano as he/she wishes. It is, however, not a sanctified chapel.
Image courtesy of Google.

Oh and they have coffee serving vending machines. For 60 cents, you can get a decent cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or even shot of espresso with milk. Every school needs this. What would I do for one of these so I don’t have to wait in line for Starbucks (and watch my paycheck dwindle down…)

Also comes with a cup :)
Also comes with a cup 🙂
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So I went exploring…

…on my second day, or rather first full day in Germany. And took quite a bit of pictures. One thing to note, the days are quite short here, and there will never be a midday sun during Winter. The afternoon heat that plagues all of us in Hawaii is non-existent. But so far, I’m loving the weather here.

Not much happened, so most of the exciting stuff can be better shown through the pictures in the gallery. The best thing I saw was Johannes Wolfgang von Goethe’s old home. Yeah, I had absolutely no idea he lived in Vallendar! Very rustic, pretty awesome. I’m definitely planning on going back sometime soon.

The following day (today), I checked out of the Hotel Alexander after having an amazing breakfast (which, along with the dinner I had there, deserves its own post) and took a taxi to Haus Wildburg, my home for the next four months. It’s a quaint stone building with more “modern” facilities just behind it on the same property. The nuns reside in the front, the stony-ivy covered, idyllic facade, while we the students dorm in the living quarters on the other side. A garden lies between the two developments. (Pictures to come)

I first met a really nice girl from Philadelphia who goes to the Marshall School of Business at USC. We grabbed lunch at a small cafe close by that also serves ice cream and pastries. I ordered a French onion soup that was very well done. She went for the more German-like pork sausage schnitzel, which we were pretty excited to try but weren’t exceptionally impressed. But I’m guessing it was decent.

On our way back, we ran into two guys with luggage bags, and yes, they were exchange students to WHU as well. Jim from the University of Illnois was also assigned to Haus Wildburg, so he went with Cynthia and me while we parted ways with Jake from Toronto who continued on looking for the dormitory on Lohrstrasse.

Shortly after we got back to Wildburg, we decided to go grocery shopping and get some dinner. By that time, a few other guys had arrived (all American) and we all went down to the new supermarket Lidl on Rheinstrasse, about 5-10 minutes away depending on how fast you walk. Another supermarket was on the way, Rewe, also pretty new, so we stopped by there as well.

It was only 5:30PM when we left Lidl, but the sky was already dark with a hint of blue and light on the horizon. We tried looking for a place to eat, but that was easier said than done. The first couple of place we looked at only served pastries, cakes, and drinks. The rest were either closed or were bars.

We later came across Ristorante Verona that served Italian. Classy place, but there seemed to only be one worker, who was waiter, server, greeter all in one. We think he might even be the chef too. Another group of people got there before us – English speaking. Exchange students certainly aren’t hard to spot! We didn’t get to speak to them much, but I’m sure we’ll see them tomorrow and get to know them better as time passes.