I can almost guarantee that they are more fun over here.
I registered this morning alongside many other foreign-looking students and was told to come back at 14:00, when the orientation would officially begin. At 2 pm, I was delighted to find that the hallway outside of our registration room was filled with tables of pretzels and pastries, sparkling water and coffee. I quickly found a group to slide into conversation with consisting of Sabine from Belgium, Kiara from Italy, Naomi from Hungary, and the slightly less exotic Dan from Pennsylvania. We chatted in English for a few minutes, enjoying our pastries and coffee. Then we were ushered across the street to the university's beautiful main building, where we were to receive our official welcome from the university. The room they chose was stunning, with chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and portraits of prior chancellors adorning the walls. A balcony with flowers lining its edges took up one side of the room. Unfortunately, far more international students were in attendance than expected. Maybe they had heard about the free champagne. Yep, that's right. Welcome to the University of Tübingen, it's 3 in the afternoon, here's your glass of champagne. Awesome?
A very sweaty thirty-five minutes later, after we had been officially and extremely warmly welcomed to Tübingen, we headed back to the orientation building to break off into small groups. I left Sabine and the others behind, and quickly became friends with Gwen from New York and Paul from Russia, as well as Nick, Alice, and Daniel from England. We sat down at our seats, where a folder of information, some Haribo gummy bears, a chocolate bar, and -- wait for it -- a tiny bottle of fig-flavored vodka awaited us. Yes, people, they gave us vodka at orientation.
Just when I thought things couldn't get any more bizarre, our tutors walked in and announced that the way they would like to begin orientation would be to drink the vodka as a group. There is a specific way this is done: Take the cap off the bottle. Stick the cap on your nose. Put the bottle in your mouth, and, no hands!, look up toward the ceiling and drink the whole thing. It's no more than a shot, mind you, but still. Orientation was off to a very good, if surprising, start.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with ice breakers (we all had to name our favorite smells?) and with discussing the schedule for the rest of the three days. I've already registered with the city and done my immatrikulation at the university, so I don't have to be anywhere at 7 am tomorrow. Yes! But I do get to go on a tour of the university, attend an explanation of the library system (helpful), and go to a party tomorrow night. Oh, did I mention we are also meeting tonight for a little 'extra' orientation at two of Tübingen's best bars?
However, I'm most looking forward to the final event on Saturday night, which is a party in the castle that includes dinner, free drinks, and dancing. Did I mention it was in a castle?