Our small groups of international dual-degree graduate students that had been trickling into Cologne from different parts of the world became Cohort 19 on Monday, September 30, when we were all together for the first time. Students from the United States, Germany, Poland, China, France and Italy filled the seats in Ubierring 48, room 211.
We started the day with orientation and a campus tour which included the other building, Claudiusstraße, and had lunch in the Mensa (student cafeteria). We thought we were going on a City Tour after lunch, per the schedule, but it turned out to be a hurried scavenger hunt.
We returned to Claudiusstraße, and champagne was poured. There was even a barrel of Kölsch specifically for us. (Talk about cultural differences! Drinking has never been encouraged in an academic setting in the U.S. in my experience.) At this point, everyone was exhausted, but managed to keep drinking, eating and socializing through the full 10-hour day.
Tuesday and Wednesday were Intercultural Training days. This presented us the opportunity to get to know each other a little better with games and activities before classes begin next week. We talked of differences in the university settings in each country, among other surface cultural differences. While some of us looked forward to delving a bit deeper, we are going to keep looking forward to it, because it was not the space for dialogue beyond the bullet points. The place for those conversations will likely be in our actual Intercultural Communication classes.
October 3rd is Germany’s National Day of Unity, so everyone had Thursday day off, and the shops were all closed (like on Sundays here). Friday we had off, too! Monday we have our introduction class with Professor Sander, and on Tuesday the semester officially begins.