24 November 2001
I forgot to mention that I got my year-long visa yesterday. I'd had a tourist visa, which was going to expire in December. I could've gotten it sooner, but with getting settled into classes and all, I put it off. So, I have a fancy sticker in my passport and I can stay here until September 30.
The weather turned out to be crappy and we didn't end up going anywhere, but I went to meet a bicycling guy from here anyway. We chatted for a while. Then I came home, changed into more flattering clothes, and went to Mannheim. I went, knowing only that there was a big pedestrian zone where there were lots of stores. The center of the city got rebuilt after the war with the grid system, so there are no street names in the center, just block names, like R4 and D2. Finding a specific building might be a little tricky, but staying un-lost wasn't too hard. There weren't too many stores there that we don't have in Heidelberg since the big ones are all chain department stores, but they had different selections. There were surprisingly few coats in my size. Maybe they've all been sold already. I found a really long dark gray wool coat that I like a lot, but it's not cheap. I'm thinking about it. If I convince myself that it's worth it between now and Monday night, I'll go back to Mannheim to buy it.
Getting to Mannheim is really easy because I have a Semester-Ticket. It's less than $60 a semester and allows me to use any of the city-level public transportation and the slower DB trains in the area covered by the local public transportation association/organization. (The names are in German and I don't know how they'd be translated exactly, so bear with me.) The area is quite large, covering the northern part of Baden-Württemberg, the eastern part of Rheinland-Pfalz, and the southern tip of Hessen. Mannheim is well within the area, just 20 minutes or so away by train. I decided to take advantage of the local train station that's just a couple minutes away from my dorm by foot, since the bus ride alone from here to the main train station is 20 minutes. Many of the slower trains going towards Mannheim stop there and it's practically next door. It was very convenient. (Do the trains go right by where I live and make lots of noise? Luckily for me, they don't, since they enter a long tunnel just after the station. Best of both worlds really. Peace and quiet and a nearby train station. My early morning classes are all within a five minute walk from here, too. My classes which are farthest are a 15-20 minute walk away. I like where I live. I should appreciate it more. Given that all my classes are in the old part of the city, I'm glad I'm not living in Neuenheimer Feld, the newer part of the university where all the high rise dorms are.)