First week in Winterthur

Well, I’ve been in Winterthur for about four days now and am ready to pass judgment! Okay, not quite ready, but since first impressions are so important I thought I would share some of what I have seen.

First impressions start from the moment you walk off the airplane…  I arrived in Zürich at about 8 in the morning and the airport was surprisingly small.  I went through immigration and was surprised to have my passport looked at, but not checked!  The guard simply flipped to the first empty page, hit it with a stamp and said “bye”.  Then I arrived at customs, which consisted of two unmanned doors.  One was green and said “Nothing to declare” and the other was normal looking and said…nothing at all.  So I walked through the green door and into the airport lobby.

Frau Fürst, my contact here, was waiting for me and took me in her car to my new home, the so called “Africana” student hostel.  Africana is in the old town (here is the map – new window) surrounded mostly by a kind of pseudo-pedestrian area.  There are cars allowed, but you would have to drive at about 1 kmh since there are people and bikes everywhere.  The location of the hostel is great, but the first thing that really strikes you as you look at it is the fact that it is covered in scaffolding…  It is currently under external renovation and you can’t actually even see it.

Upon entering Africana, you realize why deposits for apartments are a good thing!  This is a no-deposit, pay as you go accommodation, and it shows.  The floors are dirty, the paint is peeling, and the bathrooms smell like mold.  My room is actually okay, it’s large and has a window facing the front street, but the rest of the place leaves a bit to be desired.

My room My room in Africana

Going to the kitchen… Going to the kitchen… Kitchen for 10 A kitchen for 10! Note the hole in the ceiling…

My first couple of days were spent in kind of a shock.  There seemed to be no life in the building, student’s don’t really cook much and all of the doors were shut and unmarked.  However, I’ve started to meet people here and am finding that I work with about half of them and the other half are graduate students in Zürich, three or four of which are studying music – and you know it from anywhere in the building.  People are now starting to come out of the woodwork, a guy named Simon from Wales, a girl named Nadege from France and Daniel from Germany are just a few.

The nationalities represented here are diverse.  Conversations are in French, Italian, Spanish, German, and rarely English. Just about everyone knows some English and those that I have met are very courteous ans switch when I come in the room, although it is often with a sigh.  Motivating me to at least try and understand the German that everyone also speaks.

Now that I’m starting to get my bearings and get out of the house, I have started to discover my surroundings.  The neighborhood here is really great.  All the shops I need are within about 5 minutes walk, work is only 20 minutes away by foot, and the train/bus station is about 5 minutes away too.  There are restaurants and coffee shops everywhere and it’s always a hub of activity.

My neighborhood at night My neighborhood at night.

Shopping street Shopping in central Winterthur.

Central Winterthur parking lot Parking in central Winterthur.

I have only had two days at work, but will fill you all in on that soon.  For now, auf Wiedersehen.

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