Wow, only 24 hours since my last update and so much to say!
Well, today started out much like yesterday, only instead of waking up at 5am I woke up at 4am. I'm not sure if it's the jet-lag or just the light streaming through all those great windows (eye roll) but I can't seem to keep a normal sleep schedule these days. I laid in bed for about an hour, then concluded I wouldn't be falling back to sleep so I wound up doing yoga in my apartment for an hour as the sun rose. And yes, it was just as awesome and relaxing as it sounds.
Present circumstances have been making me weirdly responsible lately. I didn't bring any books with me and can't find a bookstore, so unless I feel like watching German television my entertainment is limited to reading articles from my University days that are still on my computer. For example, last night before bed I started reading a piece by philosopher Richard Dawkins on the "sieve effect" and his argument against a "designed universe". So essentially my recreational time these days is divided between studying and exercise.
Today was my first day at work, and I spent most of it wringing my hands in total anxiety. Don't get me wrong, everyone has been very friendly, but it was like being the new kid at school. It's not just that I'm new, it's that I was taken into literally every department of the company and introduced to rooms full of silent people. This was an entirely new experience for me as I come from a small town and have always had friends with me. The names are all impossible too! I won't lie, sometimes it sounded like they were making it up on the spot. Everyone has difficulty with my name too, though that's not uncommon. The department that I'll be working within has decided they're going to just pick a nickname for me, which sounds like a pretty good solution to me. Luckily for me this department is a close-knit group of friendly people, and I think of all the departments it will probably be the best suited to me.
The low point in the day, however, was lunch. It is awkward enough when you are in a room full of people you don't know who all know each other and are chatting. Now, imagine that they are all speaking a language you don't understand. Ta da! That was how things were. Try joining THAT conversation. You can't. It's impossible. All you can do is wait, fidget uncontrollably and wait for someone kind enough to speak English to you. Luckily this happened, and I swear I'm not lying when I say that - as it turned out - the coworker who started talking to me is a Swiss PRINCE. Apparently he married a princess a while back and now they're a happy royal family, though without an estate. I was kind of dumbstruck when I found out. I've been in Europe all of TWO days and I've already met royalty for Christ's sake!
Two of the girls at work have taken me under their wing, so to speak, and they invited me to join them for lunch break. The four of us (the secretary is coming as well) are all planning to go out this weekend in the notorious Reeperbahn, Germany's red light district, which also has many bars and clubs.
After lunch I spent most of my time waiting for the tech guys to solve laptop problems, and then started reading up on a new client of ours. For the next few weeks I'll be learning under the Consulting team, which will be very different. Things may change however, since I've been asked to pass along my portfolio to the head of the Creative department so they can have a better idea of my capabilities. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in Mad Men. The office itself is quite something; it used to be an old factory, but my bosses bought it and converted it into offices. It's almost entirely white, and all the departments are separated by glass walls. There are meeting rooms for each floor where the staff will gather weekly to circulate updates on projects, clients, and company news. You can imagine that it's a very modern-looking place.
One of my coworkers asked me today what the most challenging thing was that I'd had to deal with since coming to Germany, and I told him it was the doors. True story. The doors here are somewhat ridiculous. They pretend to be like ours but really they're just imposters. They have round handles you see, but these don't turn, they just sit there mocking you while you struggle. Throw my issue with keys into mix and you have a disaster waiting around every corner. Additionally, some of them close in unpredictable ways, which resulted in me walking into a door in front of at least five of my coworkers. Probably my most graceful moment of the day. When I arrived at work this morning (never having been to the building before) I tried to open the front door and failed. After glancing to either side of the building for another entrance and staring at the (German) buzzer labels in agony, thankfully a man came along and helped me. Turned out it was one of those "push not pull" situations and I felt incredibly stupid. Oh, and it gets worse. I step into the building and am met with another door, this one locked for realsies. I have no idea how the secretary knew I was standing there but she buzzed me in and my embarrassment ended... temporarily. I have now discovered that you get a card-key that you wave in front of the door to get in, but I still have no idea how guests are supposed to do it. Who knew doors could be so frustrating?
Well now isn't that something! I am now watching a group of thirty or so protesters passing down the street flanked by about sixty members of the Polizei (the police). I'm beginning to wonder what I won't see while here. I have no idea what they're protesting, in case you're wondering.
Well, that about covers my day. My next mission is to go find an alarm clock, which I desperately need. I'm not going to bother contemplating all the ways in which this could go wrong, as at this point the list is infinite. No doubt I'll have another jam-packed day tomorrow and will write another update.