by Gwyneth van Son ’13

What?! We have to feed ourselves?!

Nope, no three meals a day at the cafeteria, no maintenance staff, and no campus life living. This, my friends, is as close to the real world as I ever care to get. Here at the Bremen program we have no host families, but rather live in apartments owned by the university and receive a stipend (due to the lack of an all you can eat buffet). However, because I so love to be different, I live in a private apartment with Verena, a German TA in 2010-2011. Verena and I live in the Neustadt, which is about a 30-minute tram ride away from the University of Bremen (a very long way away by Dickinson standards). There are, however, many advantages to where we live; we are not very far from the inner city and we walk one minute to both the grocery store and the tram stop.  Our building is very much the typical old single family Bremen townhouse renovated into apartments. It has three stories, a basement, balconies, a garden in the back and very high ceilings. The one thing that makes our building standout is that it is bright pink with a mural of water lilies painted on the front.

Because I decided to live in a private apartment that meant I needed to purchase a few things, such as a bed. Two highly successful trips to Ikea were made, one with Verena and one with Jens. I now feel I can truthfully say I know my way quite well around the Ikea store, if a guided tour is requested I am more then happy to oblige. I managed to find a great bed on Bremen’s much less creepy version of Craig’s list, and due to Jens it was speedily dismantled, transported, and rebuilt.

My living situation in Bremen may be completely different from that at Dickinson, but the one thing they have in common is that there is always something to be done in terms of decoration. Even after I move out of a room I think of how I could have decorated it differently, and I know with my apartment here it will be just the same. After living in a dorm for the last two years I enjoy cooking for myself, cleaning the apartment and knowing no one except Verena or I will come in and leave dirty dishes in the sink, as well as the lack of constant loud music. Our landlords, who live above us, are thankfully not into blasting music so loud that I worry for their future ability to hear. I am sure, however, that after eleven months of real life living I will welcome back dorm life and the caf with wide open arms, but until then I am perfectly content to live the life of a big kid.