I have officially been living in Bonn for over a month now! So many things still feel so new, i’s hard to believe, but I am beginning to settle in. Accordingly, it seems about the right time for a post about my daily life in Bonn!
So far, I’m a big fan of Bonn. It’s a nice city – not to big, not too small – with a lovely city center, nice hiking trails not far away, and a beautiful walkway stretching along the Rhine for miles! My housing location is quite convenient: technically I live in the district of Bonn called Endenich, but right next to Poppesldorf, and not far from Bonn Zentrum. Poppelsdorf is a very cute area, with a nice downtown main street filled with little shops, restaurants and cafes, and a lovely green area lined by trails suitable for biking and running. It even has its own Palace (currently under construction) and botanical garden!
From Poppelsdorf, it isn’t far to Bonn Zentrum – there you can find the main city center pedestrian zone. Full of all sorts of shops, large and small, cafes, crepe stands, restaurants of all kinds, chocolate shops, department stores, currywurst stands, and more, this vibrant area can only be traversed on foot or by bike. One of my favorite squares – Münsterplatz – also hosts a famous Beethoven statue! In addition to the physical shops, there’s also a daily market in one square, with vegetables, baked goods, meats and cheeses, and fresh and dried fruits, much like a farmer’s market back in the States. On many days, there are also special markets with all sorts of different stalls, for reasons of which I am not entirely aware, and there are also frequent concerts in the various squares. A prime example – this past weekend I ran into a plethora of stalls selling Italian meats, cheeses, cannolis, wine, and more, and in the evening my fellow Fulbrighter friend Shirin and I ran into a concert of Latin salsa music!
I officially started in my lab only last week, so my “typical day” may change slightly as I get more into the swing of things, but I will, nonetheless, attempt to sketch out a representative account of a “typical day” for me here in Bonn:
Waking up, I push back the duvet (those are the norm here), plump up my giant square pillow (also the norm here), and get out of bed. Depending on how early it is and how motivated I’m feeling, I might head out for a brief jog in the nearby fields, or over along the green areas in Poppelsdorf. (If it’s a weekend, I’ll probably return home to enjoy a breakfast of tea, coffee, brötchen (bread rolls), cheese, marmelade, butter, honey, meats, and more with some contingent of my housemates.) If it’s a weekday, I might tuck into a quiet bowl of müsli, with some currants I picked up the other day at the Market.
Next I head to work. As it’s still decently warm, I might choose to walk up the mountain to Venusberg (literally: “Venus-mountain”), the district of Bonn where the University clinic and my lab are located. Quite the uphill trek, it’s at least pretty! There’s a lovely footpath going through woods right along the road up to Venusberg. If I’m feeling indulgent, I might stop at Mauel Bakery en route for a pastry to enjoy on the rest of my walk.
At the lab, I… well I can’t say too much about that yet! Mostly so far I’ve been shadowing people as they go about their activities, reading scientific literature, and meeting my colleagues. I might have lunch at the Mensa, or if I brought something from home, I might join some of my colleagues in the meeting room to chat over our food.
After work, I head back to the center of Bonn. I could just head home, but I honestly so love the atmosphere of the pedestrian zone in the city center, that I find an excuse to go there almost every day. Perhaps I’ll head to the market and ask the meat vendor for a good “typisch Deutsch” sandwich meat suggestion (I did that last week – the guy was very friendly, and even gave me a sample to try!), or stop by a cafe for a slice of cake or a hot chocolate. Maybe I’ll simply wander the endless alleys – I’ve walked them all several times now, but it’s still a maze to me – looking for the perfect beret (I love them, but whenever I try them on I think they look ridiculous on me!) or browsing the extensive scarf collections. If I have work I want to get done, I might also head over to the University Library for a bit.
Heading home, I’ll walk back to Endenich, to a quiet little street (with a lot of construction right now!) where our WG sits. Out front are an abundance of bicycles, advertising the fact that this is a student dorm – in total it has six WGs, or shared flats, and each accomodate about seven students. In my flat, we each have our own (small) room, and then we have a nice common space of kitchen-dining room-living room. Once arrive, I’ll probably hang and chat with my roommates a bit. Someone might have a uni sport activity or jazz choir rehearsal, but those that are around are usually down to chat.
My housemates Felix, Martin, and Jakob are all first-years (Erstis) here at Uni Bonn, and they’re all great guys! Felix (20) studies biology, Martin (21) studies physics, and Jakob (19) is studying literature and philosophy. Felix plays the guitar, is involved in Uni Sports, and is generally a hoot! Jakob likes to read, plays piano, and is a big music fan (we recently found out we’re both big fans of Dear Evan Hansen), so I hope to report on book exchanges and jam session later on! Vicky is originally from Hungary, and is working on her master’s in media studies. In addition to working away at writing her thesis, she also works at a café in a bookstore in the center of Bonn – for which our whole flat is grateful, as that often means free leftover brötchen! Johanna is studying dental medicine, and on top of that, is quite skilled in the kitchen – in my first week here she made French canelés, and she frequently makes beautiful foamed lattes. Vicky and Johanna both deserve a special shout-out for accompanying me on my ER adventure a few weeks back! Sonja, who recently graduated, just departed for Wachtendonk, where she will be starting a new job at Venlo! Maike (a friend of Greta, a member of the WG who is currently studying abroad in Italy, but will return in the spring), is the last to join our WG for the semester, and she should arrive later this week.
All in all, I couldn’t ask for a better group of roommates! I can’t possibly count the number of times I’ve thought to myself, “I’m so lucky to live here!” On some evenings Felix might get out his guitar and we’ll all sing a bit. Perhaps we’ll grab a board game, as we did just last night, and enjoy playing (me mostly failing, as the language barrier makes success a bit difficult – but it’s great German practice!) while we share some chocolate or Haribo. Also a quick fun fact – Germans really do love their bread. Last night when we were playing a game, I could hardly keep from laughing as Felix and Gunnar, Johanna’s boyfriend, wolfed down – not chips and salsa, not popcorn, not I don’t-know-what-normal-college-snack-food, but – slice after slice of dark, German bread, generously topped with cheese or butter. A small thing, perhaps, but very culturally distinctive – food tends to be, after all! After our game, I head up to get ready for bed, maybe running through some Anki German flashcards, or trying to read a bit of Pippi Langstrump in German, dictionary by my side! Or I might just opt for a good, easy, English read. And then it’s back under the duvet, to the giant square pillow, to sleep in preparation for another day in Bonn!
I might need to do another “typical day in Bonn” post later on, when my days are a bit more standardized (assuming that happens at some point), but hopefully this gives you a small taste of what life in Bonn has been like for me, so far!