in which I get settled in Nuremberg.
I have now been a resident of Nuremberg for 10 days, though I have yet to officially register (right. put that on the things to do next week, along with getting my visa), and as the days go by, I have been making myself at home, one step at a time.
The first project when I moved in was getting the room furnished in the most basic way possible. Luckily, there was a bed here (while I wouldn’t have minded buying one, the process of getting a bed into an apartment takes a bit of work and hassle and is better avoided), but otherwise, my small room was unfurnished. So, I made my way to Ikea last Friday, in search of some sort of structure for storing clothes, among other small things. I returned with a standing coat rack and a hanging shelf set, a cheaper (and easier to carry) alternative to a full out closet. And an assortment of hangers, a pillow, and a stove-top espresso maker. The bare essentials. I put the rack together (for the record, I really, really enjoy putting together furniture) using my handy Swiss army knife and got my stuff unpacked and organized.
Saturday’s project was a trip to the grocery store to get the bare essentials in terms of food. And Sunday was devoted to other pursuits (namely, attempts at figuring out my future). Monday saw more grocery shopping. And I worked on Tuesday and Thursday, meaning little progress was made on my settling-in process.
Yet something was missing. You see, since its purchase in Ukraine almost two years ago, my enormous Lenin flag has been an important part of my decorating scheme. Lenin was the first thing to go up when I moved into my Berlin apartment back in 2008 (I settled for a prominent position over my door), and again, up very quickly when I got back to Cambridge last fall. There, his iron stare looked out over my desk, and Lenin watched me as a toiled over that pesky thesis. I didn’t take the flag to Korea (perhaps why I was never truly at home there), but he reappeared upon arrival in Erlangen, where he hung over a bookshelf full of books that weren’t mine. So, after a week here, it was high time for Lenin to find a new home. This time, he has settled over my bed. I now sleep under his stern gaze.
My walls were still seeming depressingly blank, though, so I settled on the next part of my decorating scheme: purchasing a map. Initially, I had wanted to get a large map of Europe, since that is what I have done almost all my traveling there, but as I went through the map possibilities at my local bookstore, I settled instead on a world map. After all, I have lived most of my life in the US and traveled a bit in Asia, too. To go with the map, I purchased tiny gold 3D stickers to be used to mark my past travels, which gave me something to do this evening. I am pretty satisfied with the result. The stickers are fairly subtle–I don’t see them from my bed, on the other side of my room, which I appreciate.
And, though I still have one very empty wall, my room is increasingly feeling like home. My map is up. Lenin is up. I have food and cooking supplies. And my clothes put away. What more can a person ask for?!?
Of course, there is much more to settling in than putting a few decorations on a wall and owning a pillow. Settling in has also involved getting to know my flatmates. This time, we have Dani(ela), who studied business and works here in Nuremberg, and Felix, who is just starting his degree here. Additionally, there is Marko, but he works in Stuttgart most of the time and is only here on weekends. All together, a nice apartment. I am certainly satisfied.
Getting settled, of course, also means figuring out my way around Nuremberg–locating grocery stores, public transport stops, and finding the best running routes. All of which have received attention in the past 10 days. Finding running routes has been particularly enjoyable. Some time I will have to go out with my camera, but there’s a nice baby lake to run around–very much the same path as my half-marathon back in October. There are places along the path that take me back to running along the Charles in Cambridge–and runs along the Charles are one thing I particularly miss from Harvard.
And, what are my thoughts? Ten days in and I can say I am entirely satisfied with my decision to move here, instead of staying in Erlangen. Just the increased social circle with the fellow Fulbrighters here has been a nice improvement (though, I might add, as a quick aside, I really, really liked the people I lived with in Erlangen). I randomly ran into Alex last Monday, for example, and two days later, she invited me over for meatloaf and mashed potatoes with her flatmates, Sarah (another English teaching assistant), and Sarah’s boyfriend. I supplemented the typically American meal with brownies. Good choice. Mmm, brownies.
In general, I really like Nuremberg. It is a city with an interesting history, of course. The city retains its medieval character with its thick city walls and was the birthplace of Northern Renaissance painter and etcher Albrecht Dürer. But the city is more known for its more infamous history, to a certain extent bookending the Nazi regime. Nuremberg was the sight of the great Nazi rallies between 1933 and 1938, and the city gave its name to the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, which deprived Jews of citizenship. And, best known to the world, the city was also the sight of the Nuremberg trials, where most of the prominent Nazis were tried after WWII. Certainly these make for a very interesting city.
Colorful history aside, the city is probably best known within Germany for being the sight of Germany’s most famous Christkindlesmarkt, the Christmas market, which opens next Friday. I am quite excited, particularly since the main market is literally a 3 minute walk from my apartment. Everything is now getting set up, and I am excited to see the end result. I expect the Christmas season to include a healthy dose of Nuremberg’s famous gingerbread and Glühwein.
Nuremberg also has the advantage of being significantly larger than Erlangen (at about 500,000, a hair less than five times bigger), and generally speaking, a pretty city. And a city that continues to look pretty both by day and by night, and in both good weather and bad. This is generally a nice characteristic for cities, I feel.
I think one of my favorite aspects of living in Nuremberg, however, is simply just how centrally my apartment is located. I live central within the city walls. I can walk to the train station in around 15 minutes, the city fortress is just up the hill, and the main market area is three minutes from my door.
Unlike Erlangen, Nuremberg has the feel of a city. Heck, it even has a subway system. I feel so much more comfortable and happy living here, even with the full hour commute to work. Moving here was decidedly a good choice, and I look forward to really making myself feel at home here over the next seven months and change.