I’m trying to write a series of short pieces about my ‘first’ experiences here in Germany The novelty of these experiences may have worn out now, yet they are very much worth recalling, much like your very first kiss.
Part of uprooting myself from a place where I’ve been living since I was born (other than a three-day interval of hopping to Hong Kong and back as my graduation gift) was the anxiety that came with it. I will start a new life in a different world- a different culture, a different language, and something of a physical nature, a different climate.
The only acquaintance I know of then is our neighbor who has been living in Duesseldorf for a couple of years. We exchanged messages through Friendster, a social-networking site days before my departure. Fearing that I will freeze once I step out of the Frankfurt airport, I asked him special types of clothes I should bring, if at all they are available in the tropical Philippines. I picked up some pullovers and jackets, and brought along the winter jacket I used in Baguio City, the summer capital of the Philippines, where I did my practicum in my last semester of undergraduate studies about four years ago (during which the city experienced about 7 degrees, one of the coldest in its atmospheric history).
A harsh winter welcomed me at the airport in Frankfurt Main last year. This was in late July, and it was about +15 degrees Celsius, freezing cold in Philippine standards, as I got down from the through the shell of the Frankfurt ‘Airport’ train station to the waiting platform for the final two-hour leg of my 26-hour trip to Freiburg. It felt being thrown into a building whose temperature was modulated by a centralized industrial air-conditioning system. The main and obvious difference was that windows are nowhere to be found, just a gaping space looking out to a main thoroughfare. The sound of cars and trucks that wheezing by in the light morning traffic was amplified by the acoustics within the hollow architecture of the expansive platform area. I wasn’t safely contained in a cloistered building. This cold reality shouted and wrapped me on my lonesome. I clearly got the message.