1. Culture shock; supposedly, it happens. Hopefully I’ll be able to minimize it, but they say everyone feels a little put off by all the quirks of the place he’s visiting, sooner or later.
2. Loneliness; supposedly that happens too. A lot. I can imagine feelings of isolation, of stranger-in-a-strange-land-ing.
3. Feeling awful every time I ask someone “sprechen sie Englisch?” I just had to do it on the phone, and I feel so ugly-American.
4. A giant red-tape mishap will seriously sidetrack at least one excursion, for sure.
5. I’ll probably get wildly sick at some point too. Hopefully it won’t ruin more than one weekend.
6. I’ll probably have to spend more money than I’d like, on at least one occasion.
7. The food! I can’t wait to try it. But it seems so heavy and not that healthy, especially in places like Germany. I may get in worse shape. However, pretty much as a rule, Europeans are in better shape than we are, so I may get in better shape. I’m no Lance Armstrong as it is.
8. Biking a long distance. I want to do it at least once. Koln is something like 40km; that’d be a nice warmup.
9. The classes. All this preparation for all the travel; I need to remember that I’m taking classes too! Hopefully, they won’t be all too difficult, and hopefully, I’ll learn something interesting (especially in the first half-semester)
10. Falling out of touch with people back home. I’ll do my best not to!
11. Learning the language not as well as I’d like.
12. Learning the language better than I’d thought.
13. Having some of the best months of my life.
14. Not having some of the best months of my life.
15. Learning to appreciate beer. At least, I hope so. I’ll have wasted my time if I come back and I still can’t tell a Yuengling from a Pabst. (That’s hyperbole, don’t worry.)
And finally, 16. Things that I can’t possibly be ready for; because I can’t imagine what the hell is going to happen these next few months. This has been your inspirational-speech minute; feel free to go about your business now.
As someone who’s studying abroad currently:
I wouldn’t worry too much about dealing with language problems - you’ve picked a section of Europe which is about as anglophone as you can get outside of the UK.
You’ll have to spend more money than you’d like. On everything. Always.
Being directly on the border with Belgium will give you excellent opportunities to develop your beer knowledge. May I recommend Duvel and Chemay in particular, in addition to all the other ales brewed by the Belgian Trappist Monks. Also, Grolsch is a very good Dutch lager, Amstel is also quite good, especially in the Netherlands. Czech beers are also excellent - particularly Pilsner and Staropramen.
Have a great time Dan!
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