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 Settled In 

Submitted by Carlo Becker on Wed, 01/22/2014 - 04:03

Athens, OH, is a beautiful town. (It has a typically American diner, nice redbrick buildings, milions of grey squirrels, and a herd of 4-5 deer roaming my back yard.) Already after my first two weeks here, it feels like a place I really want to call home. Having left Leipzig on the morning of January 3, I was, to be honest, even a bit sad to leave behind the good times that I’d had there over the last weeks. When I landed in New York, however, the realization of where I was standing right then, and the view of Manhattan’s skyline on the distant horizon, caused a feeling of genuine excitement to replace any doubts I might have had earlier.

Exploring Manhattan on the next day was even more overwhelming, and I was reminded of the fact that there is absolutely no way of anticipating or imagining the impression that a place might have on you as long as you haven’t been there. If you’re interested in the details of my time in Manhattan (as well as many other things that I have experienced so far), you are very welcome to read my non-ASL-sponsored blog. I’m happy about any feedback on both blogs, by the way!

My ride from New York to Columbus, Ohio, on the night from January 5 to January 6 was kind of an adventure. Bad weather, mad driver. However, I was picked up by Sam who drove me to Athens and later took me grocery shopping. He’d spent about a year studying in Leipzig, and I’d met him only once before coming to Columbus. Still, I already feel like having found a good friend. He gives us rides throughout town, takes us to his favorite bars, explains a lot of things, and the most he’ll accept from us in return is a thank you. I live off campus in a house with three other students, and one of them is Natalie who’s also been to Leipzig with her GLC class last year. She’s done me a good deal of favors as well, and I owe her just as much as Sam. The amount of good people that I am surrounded by does not stop there, however. Over the two weeks that I’ve been here, I’ve already met so many interesting and friendly people – Americans and internationals alike, it is truly amazing!

Of course, I already did some sightseeing as well. Last Saturday, we went up to explore the grounds of a former psychiatric clinic that now goes by the name The Ridges. The fact that it is still used by the university (I think there are some classes taking place) prevents the building from any decay that I find preferable for such places, just for the atmosphere. Still, it is a favorite place for Halloween, and there are naturally some creepy stories to tell about it. The following day, Sam took us for a bike ride around Athens where we could see some of the hilly countryside which reminded me very much of the area in which I grew up.

Classes started last week. So by now, all of the students are back in town. When I arrived, Athens was a beautiful quiet place with some great bars and people in it. Now, it is a vibrant micro-city that houses some 20,000 students in a very small area. So things won’t get boring around here. Along with that comes the challenge to find a good balance between studying, socializing, and exploring the area in and around Athens. I have come here to get the most out of all three of them. Since I haven’t really mentioned studying so far, I’ll close my first entry with that. I am enrolled in four classes, one of which is the compulsory GLC class, and the other three are Popular and High Culture in 20th Century America, Introduction to Literary Editing and Publishing, and Literary Theory. The workload is gonna be quite heavy, but since I picked three of these four classes myself, most of the work will be very interesting and, I guess, rewarding. And seriously, what more can you ask of a class than to make you read The Grapes of Wrath?!

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