I have really been enjoying my German class this past month. Besides the great group that I am with, and the super teacher, there is another bonus, my 2 hours in Stuttgart twice a week.
I have loved Stuttgart ever since my first time here, perilously close to 8 years ago. The city is great to me. It has a city feel, yet is cozy, comfortable, and extraordinarily safe. The one thing though is that I have never made it mine. I think it is because I have spent relatively little time in the city on my own. I lack familiarity with the city. Joern and I come in, wander up and down the Koenig Strasse, stop for an ice cream or a Starbucks, and that's about it. Or, sometimes, we will drive in for a specific purpose, Döner Kebab at Gül Kebab, or a quick computer purchase. Rarely, do we spend actual time in the city repeatedly stopping in shops or ambling without purpose. When I was in Dublin, I spent some time almost every day exploring. I had my book shop, my socks store, the local sandwich shop (The Jolly Swagman.) These seemingly mundane places helped transform a foreign city into home for me.
I feel completely at home in Germany now, and know that no matter where I live, my heart will now long for my two homes. But in the past months, my 4 hours per week in Stuttgart, spent waiting for my class to begin, have allowed me to start this home city transformation process. I take the U-Bahn (subway) in from school, which I will continue to do when I get my driver's license. I am becoming quite knowlegable about the public transport system, and am even starting to look like a non-tourist on the U-Bahn, namely, I do not gawk out the windows anymore at the scenery. In Stuttgart, I am beginning to know which U-Bahn stops will lead me to which areas. I mostly wander into shops, and then to Starbucks for a coffee. I now know the collection at Esprit as well as that from JCrew. I know how to navigate the gigantic 5 floor bookstore Wittwer. I know which drugstore to find my favorite toothpaste, where I can find my L'Occitane handcream without running into the snobby department store, and where I can find really cool wrapping paper (which is very difficult to find in Germany.) I have a favorite little stand for lunch. And of course, the baristas at Starbucks are starting to recognize me :)
It is more difficult to make a city "home" when you don't live or work directly in it. Yet, I have begun the process. When I return from my time at home, I will have to continue this habit. One day, I may truly call the "dorky" little city of Stuttgart home.