München: Middle Chapter

Dear friends, 

It has been ~7 months now since I moved to München. To be perfectly honest, I did not like the city at first due to some little things that I found drastically different from Uppsala. They practically throw your groceries when paying and silently judge you while waiting for you to put your groceries in the shopping bag as fast as possible. And when they find out you don't speak German, you are left with unsavory expressions and an unappreciative tone. When you are just cycling straight across an intersection, minding your own business, and a car appears wanting to make a turn, she will give you a honk and a fatal death stare while cursing God knows what in her car. That was not even a busy street. 

I can go on, but I think you get the point. 

München is a big busy city that will not care if you are an international student or a tourist, they treat foreigners as foreigners. Sometimes you meet kind ones that will ask you things like what you are studying, or where are you from, and will treat you nicely as a customer even if they are the restaurant owner and not the waiter. As time goes by, (especially after you experienced hiking in the beautiful Bavarian nature) you will slowly like the city. And that is exactly what is happening to me, much to my relief, since I will spend another ~5 months here. 

Mostly, my friends and the experiences I have had with them make the time here worthwhile. The first three months after moving, me and Camila (my roommate) did not explore much other than the museums and historical places. We were also working on each of our own short projects for the second semester.  There was a time we got covid, and time stopped for about two weeks (it was horrible). And suddenly the semester starts in April, and we become busier than ever. But with the start of the semester, our friends also arrived in the city, fresh from their semester break. 

We get to finally go on trips with them! First, to Salzburg, which has a very special place in my heart due to my love for the Sound of Music. It is a very beautiful city, especially coming Spring and the flowers are there to greet you. 

After that, we also went to Berlin to see the Berlin Wall, its Museum of Natural History, and the Berlin Zoo. This trip was so much fun, although the travel was harsh and long (night bus). I realized it is also a much bigger city than München, which can be overwhelming. 

As a part of an excursion course, we also had the chance to climb the Benediktenwand and plan a small research project to be graded. It was a really hard climb for me since I was on the first day of my period. It took our group around 5 hours to get to the Tutzinger hütte. We also went to the famous Disney castle, the Neuschwanstein castle, which was the home to King Ludwig II, the fairytale King. 

Between all of these fun experiences, I also have the challenges that come with the coursework, the project I was doing, and preparing for many exams. Furthermore, I also experienced for the first time, living with a roommate, and realized that I am probably a person that is hard to live with. Cami might have suffered from my nagging and my routine for cooking and meal time. She also was there when I had to fast for one full month and wake up to my alarm before dawn to have my breakfast. Also, she must have been so annoyed by my loud singing when I was doing my assignments or taking a shower, as well as my non-stop zoom calls with my boyfriend. I learned that I enjoy living by myself, but also how to share my personal space with somebody else. Despite everything, she still is my dear friend, so that must say something about my success as a roommate, yes?

At the end of the semester, we are all ready to enjoy the rest of the summer. We planned this long trip to Vienna, around the Imagine Dragons concert. We even bought opera tickets for "The Magic Flute" in the Vienna State Opera House since we found out that Mozart spent most of his professional career there. 

After that, we finished the semester and went straight to Rome! We were there when it was a heatwave, and there are just too many tourists in town. But still, Rome feels as though you jumped into a time machine. All of the historical places just seem to have been standing there for thousands of years. We ate a bunch of good food, pizza, pasta, gelato, tiramisu, you name it! 

Right after Rome, we went to the European Society for Evolutionary Biology conference in Prague for a week. This experience was pretty special to me, considering that I have decided to go into this program looking for a middle ground between Evolutionary Biology and Conservation, but after the conference, I am left more confused than ever as to what I want to dive deeper into after the master program. I realized that it seems so rewarding to work with model systems, and it turns out that sex chromosome is super interesting! Who knows what comes next for me? 

In Prague, we get to hang out with all the MEMEs from previous cohorts as well, which was very interesting! One of them was awarded John Maynard Smith prize for an outstanding young researcher, and one of LMU MEMEs, Juliana was also awarded the best student poster. It felt especially special to be a part of this program as we have the summer school in München, right after the conference. We cried over the funny yet endearing graduation ceremony (the highlight is when our program director cannot pronounce chihuahua properly), and great conversations in the after-parties. 

After this busy week, we are saying goodbyes to the MEME friends who are leaving München to continue their semester either in Montpellier or Groningen, and welcoming friends who are coming to München for their thesis. I am also excited about what's to come for the next semester! 



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