30 September, 2009

Living conditions

I just wanted to make a post describing the living conditions here at Reutlingen University. Here's a link to a picture of my room. I'll just say I never professed to be an exceptionally neat person. There's some other pictures of my room and the common room in that album. Every person is assigned a space in a refrigerator-cabinet and a regular cabinet. The Valpo program provided us with a set of dishes and silver-ware. There's one oven and four stove top burners in the kitchen. A cleaning lady comes through twice a week or so and disinfects everything so it's usually pretty clean.

There's 18 people on each floor, co-ed. There's four showers per floor which are in private stalls, not like the showers in the freshman dorms at Valpo. Probably to save money on water the showers only stay on for about 1 minute at a time, except one of the showers on my floor is broken and stays on as long as you want. Whatever, it's running and it's warm and that's what counts. Oh and every floor has a nice large balcony. I like sitting out there in the morning while I eat a bowl of cereal. I'm on the 7th floor so I have a pretty cool view of campus.

One of the biggest differences between here and the states is a lot of the students are much older than me. Like, one of the guys we've been hanging out with a lot who lives across the hall is 26 years old and is in his 3rd semester at the University. I think a lot of people here work for a couple of years before going to school to get a degree. So it's a much more mature attitude all around.

There's a floor speaker who is kind of like an RA, but they have much fewer responsibilities e.g. there's no front desk, they don't go on rounds every, they don't decorate the floor. I think they're just supposed to be there to make sure the trash duties get accomplished and to mediate problems between residents. Everything's a little more relaxed here compared to what I'm used to at Valpo. There's no set move in day, so people have just been moving in whenever they want.

The laundry system is a little strange. I think I finally figured it out, though. There's three washers and driers on the top floor of our building. You put money in a little box which turns the machine on for 30min for every 50cents you put in. Then you select the cycle you want and press start. The problem is if the cycle you select takes more time than what you paid for it shuts off mid-cycle. Sometimes that means it doesn't go through a spin cycle so the clothes come out sopping wet. And if the person who used the washer before you didn't pay enough, you end up paying for the rest of their cycle because there's no way to reset the machine to start at the beginning. It has to complete a cycle before it resets. The driers just don't dry very well so the norm is to hang your clothes to dry. After a couple of tries I found a cycle that only costs 1Euro and includes a really fast spin-cycle so my clothes come out nearly dry.

There's a bus stop just around the corner from my building. The bus runs every 10 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends. It's about a 10 minute ride to the city center. I bought a semester bus pass which is valid in Reutlingen and some of the surrounding towns. It only takes about 30-40 minutes to get to Tuebingen, a town with a huge University (30,000 students) and lots of cool old buildings.

Oh yeah, I gotta mention the windows. All of the windows can either swing open on a side hinge or tilt open from the top on a bottom hinge. I love it. The doors to the balcony are the same way. It's great because we can leave them cracked open while it's raining and during nice weather open them all the way for lots of fresh air. Also, there's a hand-winch operated metal shutter on the outside of the window that can be shut completely to allow no sunlight through. That's really nice for midday naps or movie screenings. I'm sure we'll also appreciate during the winter because it'll keep out the cold air really well.

All in all, college life here is not all that much different from at Valpo. Most of the people just speak a different language. There's a lot of other international students living in the dorms. Just on my floor China, Croatia, Ghana, and of course the USA are all represented.

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