It’s been a really crazy year, 2020, and somebody spent an Erasmus semester during the COVID crisis in Witten. That somebody is me, Jinny, from Korea. And I’m here to talk about my experience in Witten.
I actually arrived in Witten in December 2019. Pretty early, I know, but there was a reason for that. I don’t know if you guys know where South Korea is, but it takes more than 10 hours to come to Europe. So it’s not like I’ll travel in France this month, and go to Italy the next month. So I thought, if I’m gonna spend a semester in Germany, I might as well travel all around Europe while I’m here. So this is the first phase, the travelling phase. That’s what I did for a couple of months. But then, here’s a funny story. I was travelling in Prague in March. When I left for Prague, the COVID situation was well, serious, but not THAT serious. At least I thought. But just a day before I was planning to come back to Germany, all the borders in Europe began to close and all the flights to Germany were cancelled. Yeah, it was very terrifying, but I still managed to come back by flying to London first, and catching a connecting flight to Frankfurt. Well, at least I got to go to London twice. I’m planning to tell this story to my friends for like a hundred times because now I think it’s really funny.
Then I realized that I can’t travel around Europe anymore, so comes phase two, the resting phase. The thing I liked most about spending a semester abroad is that all the problems you had vanish. For example, back in Korea I used to be so stressed about the following things; “When am I going to graduate? (maybe never)”, “What am I going to do after I graduate? (maybe nothing)”, or “What am I even going to do with my life? (maybe just screw it up)” etc. Do these questions look familiar? Have you guys ever had similar concerns? Well, while I was in Germany, I was free of all my personal problems, and started to think about more existential questions like what kind of person I am, what I like, or what I am good at. I know they’re very cheesy, but well, I was just thinking them in my mind, so whatever. And also I was able to try new things. I started baking, which I’ve always wanted to try but at the same time was too lazy to, and I also learned how to play the guitar, which I’ve also wanted to learn but didn’t have the time to. Okay, so I’m starting to look like a very lazy person, but I am not. So well, I guess my COVID times weren’t that bad.
Then comes the last phase, which I do not know what to call. I’m starting to think I shouldn’t have named the past two phases. But this phase was the closest to what I expected of my Erasmus semester. Thankfully, I got in touch with an ESN friend, Anais, who introduced me to a more authentic Witten life. She gave me a tour around Witten including the Ruhr, introduced me to some nice restaurants, and above all these things, she bought me ice cream. She introduced me to bouldering, hosted a barbecue, and so on. It was really fun hanging out with you Ani, if you’re reading! And I cooked some Korean cuisine for my flatmates (they said it was super delicious, and I’m pretty sure they meant it), hung out with a friend from Deutschkurs, it was really nice to meet some new people of different cultures.
When I got admitted to the Erasmus program, these are what I expected; crazy European parties, hangover, trying all sorts of German beer (well this one I kind of got to do). Even though these were not even close to my actual experience in Witten, I really like the 7.5 months I spent in Witten. Thanks to all the people who have been so nice, and I would like to end this with German, which I am not that good at. Meine Erfahrung in Witten wirt als eine shoene Erinnerung bleiben. Is this right? I hope it is. And Auf Wiedersehen!