Zimbelican Adventures: Herzlich Willkommen in Tübingen!



FAR FAR AWAY: Tübingen is a beautiful student town 20 minutes from Stuttgart, filled with miniature castles, canals and dozens of bakeries. PHOTO: Vanessa Smeets

Why Zimbelican? Well, Tintin was already taken… I’m a Zimbabwean Belgian South African. Confused? Yeah, so is my passport. My Belgian parents had me in Zimbabwe (it was paradise in the 1980s), but I’ve lived in South Africa since 1991. And now, I’m back in Europe on a German scholarship…

Tintin would be proud 😉

Tübingen is a beautiful, quaint little town 20 minutes out of Stuttgart, in the BadenWürttemberg province. It’s a real student town, a lot like Stellenbosch through its dozens of coffee and clothing shops, except the apartment buildings are blue, orange or yellow. And the main town is set up in Medieval architecture. It feels like I’m walking in a scene from Joan of Arc as I buy airtime. Absurd feeling.

YUMMY: Around Nonnenhaus, you can find a selection of restaurants and shops amongst Medieval architecture. PHOTO: Vanessa Smeets

On our way to buy groceries, my mom and I met people from China, Gabon, Spain and the Netherlands… My mom was kind enough to join me for the first week of my “big move” overseas.
It’s really like being thrown in the deep-end. I have a few German words to keep me afloat, but once I’m asked to say something, I hesitate. Maybe after a few glasses of Gluhwein, I’ll be speaking fluently.

Not that they’ll be serving Gluhwein this time… It’s spring, which means it’s the equivalent to South Africa’s winter: a mild 10-20 degrees with birds chirping and beautiful cherry blossoms.

Tubingen kitchen

WHATS COOKING? Sharing a kitchen with international students has its highlights: a different countrys delicacies every night? PHOTO: Vanessa Smeets

My room is half the size it was in Stellies, about 3X5 metres and I have to share a bathroom and toilet with the others on my floor. They seem friendly enough. A guy from Yemen and a Taiwanese girl were cooking up a storm in the kitchen as I arrived.

Well, the BIG QUESTION: why am I here of all places? My essay on values for the “Projekt Wertewelten (Global Values)” held by various academics, researchers and government members from this region was chosen amongst ten of the best worldwide. Here is their site: http://www.wertewelten.net/schreibwettbewerb.html I wrote about the value of life in Zimbabwe, where I was born.
For those who haven’t read it, here it is: https://vsmeets.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/the-value-of-life-in-zimbabwe/

wertewelten team

GREAT VALUES: The Wertewelten team and winners have breakfast at the Irish Pub. The contestants wrote about how values affected their various lives. PHOTO: Vanessa Smeets

During the week, I will meet the other students from Japan, Canada and Russia. There’s even a blind girl from India who wrote about the value of her parents since her birth. The other two South Africans, American girl and guy from Ivory Coast have not arrived yet.

We have been given six months to explore, mingle and merge with other students. I will be staying till the end of August, until my next adventure begins (destination will be revealed only in blog 6 or 7). This is a great test to see if I’m ready to ever work or live in Europe.

Also, I finally feel like the journalist Tintin (Tim) was: far away and free to do as I wish. Yet, having a Snowy (or, as they say in German, Struppi) to protect me from potential harm would be nice. I keep looking on the wrong side of the road while crossing it, for instance.

Tubingen walking distance

QUICK WALK: Across the bridge, students can find the supermarket, bank and even an indoor swimming pool. PHOTO: Vanessa Smeets

Everything is in walking distance from my flat: the supermarket, the bank, the stationery shop. Yip, everything except the actual university. I haven’t quite figured out the public transport system yet. And my course is in German! Oh
my, I will be spending hours doing an intensive language course. Thank goodness I don’t have to write any tests or exams.
I’m dreaming of weekends away though: the beerhalls in Munich, the Batman mural in Berlin or the Beatles ex-flat in Hamburg. Wait a minute, it’s closer to just take a train to Switzerland or Austria. Ahhh, the perks of living in Europe 🙂


Strange sights

STRANGE SIGHTS: If you take a bus, you may find yourself eating Italian while watching horses perform at show jumping. Take a bus, any bus... You bound to find something new! PHOTO: Vanessa Smeets

  • Registration fee: 103, 50 Euros
  • Clubbing: 3-10 Euros (50 Euros if you have an ‘unlimited’ drinking card)
  • Semesterticket (unlimited bus access): 58, 50 Euros
  • Rent/ month: 230 Euros (if in a ‘studentenwerkhaus’)… Up to 500 Euros+ privately
  • Beer: 2,60+ Euros
  • Learning German: from 120 Euros per semester at the DAF (Deutsch als Fremdsprache)
  • Getting a German sim-card: 15 Euros (O2 is supposedly the cheapest network, although you have to buy various bundles before you figure this out. Internet bundle: 3,50 a day! Phone bundle: 20 Euros)
  • Opening a German Bank Account: FREE (as long as you show your living contract and student number)
  • Getting Health Insurance: FREE (then 15 Euros a month)
  • Becoming a resident: FREE (although you have to fill in various papers…all in German)

2 thoughts on “Zimbelican Adventures: Herzlich Willkommen in Tübingen!

  1. Toll!!! Ich wünsche Ihnen alles Gute in Tübingen. Ich möchte Sie vor Ende August besuchen!:)

    Viel Glück!Bis bald!
    Tchuss mein Vetter

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