First experiences traveling by train and getting independent outside of Marburg

Pretty soon, after I came to Marburg, I got used to traveling by train, as well as typical Deutsche Bahn situations. 😉

Until April 2012, however, either one of my parents, relatives or people we got to know in Marburg who traveled to the north as well picked me up to accompany me on the train rides to Marburg or back home during the weekend.

Once a month during the fifth and sixth grade, the group volunteer would accompany one or more students traveling in the same direction. This was a great plus for me and my parents, because they didn’t have to leave early in the morning in order to pick me up on time when school was over (11:25AM) and for me, it also meant that I was able to stay home longer on Sundays.

In late 2011, I got another cane teacher, per request of my educators and me, who finally tought me the way to the train station. First, I learned how to travel by bus. It’s not complicated, but I should know where the bus departs, what bus number is the right one and how and where to find out.

In Marburg, in my opinion, it’s a piece of cake. Marburg is known to be a city where a lot of blind people live. Nowadays, a lot of bus stops in the city are equipped with talking info terminals that announce the name of the bus stop, as well as busses that arrive in a certain manner of time and where they go. However, they didn’t yet exist in 2011; they got introduced in Summer 2015, if I’m not mistaken.

Nevertheless, most of the bus drivers stop with their front door in front of the blind person, open the door and shout out the bus number and where they are heading to. Some bus drivers don’t do that, but what do I have a mouth for, except for eating and drinking?

I got to know the train station and the surroundings, so I could make it to the train on my own. I got approved for the train station pretty early already, but he first wanted to make me familiar with traveling by train in general. Therefore, we boarded a small local train, found some free seats and went to Cölbe, a couple of minutes away from Marburg. We got off the train, enjoyed the silence of that small train station and headed towards the opposite platform to get back to Marburg; same procedure. After that test, we finally tried something bigger: taking the long distance train to Hamburg!

In late April 2012, I finally got on the long distance train on my own! My cane teacher observed me as I asked for the coach number and where to find my reserved seat. He also got on the train behind me and joined me for two more stops. During that time, he gave me some more tips concerning traveling on my own, before finally giving his approval to travel independently! For me, this officially opened the great gate to independence outside of Marburg!

In the beginning, my mother picked me up in Hamburg and we took the final train to Stade; but that changed pretty quickly…

We, my cane teacher and I, had the idea to also check Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe, a bigger train station on my way to Hamburg where I might have to change trains, depending on the train service I choose. Unfortunately, we missed the train and therefore staid at Marburg central station. Since there wasn’t anything else to do, we checked some other platforms. Coincidentally, we stumbled upon a small office for assistance arrangements on the train station, where one of the staff gave me a piece of paper with some information on how to request assistance at various train stations.

I dialed up the number the other day and requested my first assistance for changing the train in Hamburg, so my mother staid home and picked me up in Stade. This was way more for me than just the fact that I am finally able to travel home on my own and getting assistance in Hamburg; traveling by train in- and outside of Marburg also means that I can now travel just about anywhere by train, no matter where the journey starts and where it ends!

Oh and before I forget, we eventually caught a train to Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe where I could make myself familiar with the train station. But, to be honest, I am more than happy if I don’t have to change in Kassel or if I got help by the assistance or other people, because this station sucks and can be quite noisy, so I sometimes can’t make out my own train in this mess.

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