The next day, I experienced a real German breakfast - which in complete honesty, is nothing like our breakfasts. When we think of breakfasts, cereal, toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes, and the like come to mind. However, I enjoyed a delicious breakfast of bread and cheese. We had Osterbrot or easter bread, as well as a denser darker bread (I’m not sure of the type exactly). The easter bread, which is sweeter, with more sugar and milk, was special for the Easter holiday. But usually their breakfasts are slices of bread or toast with butter, and then either jam or cheese. They also eat hard (soft?) boiled eggs with breakfast; but instead of peeling the egg, they set it in a cup and crack off the top, scooping the eggs out with a spoon to eat it. Perhaps this happens in the US as well, but I’ve never seen it.
Then, there was tea and coffee. A lot of tea and coffee. I think I drank more tea at Marlene’s house than I ever have in my life. It was good, and tea has definitely grown on me. As for the coffee, I can say that Germans like their coffee products. Marlene’s family has a fancy coffee/espresso maker, that I’m sure is used every single day. And I know it the states its common to have a big mug of coffee, but when I had it with Marlene, the cups of coffee tended to be smaller, and I think espresso is consumed more often.
The friday I was there was a bit low key. Marlene found out that she needed to play organ in the Easter services, so she needed time to practice. While she practiced, I wrote emails (you know, I had to let the parents know I got there okay). Her brother also offered to show me Freystadt, a small city near their village.
I honestly can’t say anything specific about Freystadt, other than that its a cute little town. I’m sure I was its first ever tourist.
Marlene also took me to see the Weiher, or pond, that is near their house. The scenery by the pond reminded me of Pride and Prejudice - a book (and movie) which both Marlene and I love. It was peaceful and just out in nature. I realized that since I’ve been in Germany, there hasn’t been much time to get in touch with nature. There’s a woods by my dorm, but it had been so cold earlier and it was still bordering residential areas. Other than that, I’ve been travelling to big cities. So it was refreshing to be able to experience a small town and see the landscapes of Germany.
I think what I liked the most about visiting Marlene, was the fact that it was over Easter. Six years ago, she visited me in the states over Easter and it just seemed like a long-awaited reunion. I think the trip rekindled our friendship and I really got to know her better. We’ve grown a lot in the past six years; it’s nice to develop a mature and more meaningful friendship now.
To pass more time (while Marlene was practicing organ) her brother and I played some board games. To my surprise, they had the game Gobblet - we had played it a lot when Marlene visited me and my mom had sent her home with her own set. Markus also taught me to play a German strategy board game (unfortunately I don’t remember the name of it though). I also realized that I have false confidence when teaching new board games. After Markus learned the rules and figured out his strategy, it was a battle of wits and the game actually dragged on for quite a time.
And since I was visiting her over Easter, I was able to experience a German Catholic Easter service. Well actually, I experienced three. I think Easter is a much more respected holiday here and obviously more extended than my past experiences back home.
On Good Friday, or Karfreitag, we went to church. The Good Friday service was different, in that Jesus Christ’s death was respected and mourned through silence. Usually, the church bells ring, calling all the villagers to the service. However this night, no bells were rung and the organ was not played during the service. It reminded me of the old Lutheran service back home, that symbolized Jesus’ death with turning the lights off and slamming the Bible closed. Although I was not accustomed to catholic services - motions, kneeling, etc - I was pleased to discover that I understood the sermon quite well. It does take more concentration than usual, but I’m glad I could attend three services and understand them all.
Late that night, Marlene and I dyed Easter eggs! It was a lot of fun and brought back memories of my childhood. However, the next morning we discovered that the dye wasn’t so great and hadn’t dried. So everytime someone wanted to eat an egg, their hands would undoubtably turn some primary color.
Over my 2 week spring break I was able to take a vacation to visit an old friend. In high school, I had a foreign exchange student from Germany who stayed with my family for about a month. So at the beginning of my break, I took a weekend trip - during the Easter holiday- to visit my friend Marlene.
Marlene met me at the train station in Nuremberg (Nuernberg) on a Thursday, and we spent all day exploring the city. We walked through the small Handwerkerhof, which is a part of the city that sells handmade crafts. It was quite cute; I saw my first Osterbrunnen for Easter (a well that’s decorated with Easter garland and eggs) and ate a traditional German restaurant. Marlene and I shared Bratwurstchen, potatosalad, and a pretzel. I even drank some carbonated mineral water :) The waitresses even wore the traditional German dresses, called a dirndl.
After grabbing a snack at the restaurant, we walked by the St. Lorenz Kirche and took a peek inside. No matter how many churches I see along my travel, I never leave unamazed. Some people may be of the opinion, “you see one church, you’ve seen them all.” But every time I visit one, I’m in awe of the architecture and the greatness of these churches. I’ve never seen church facilities so extravagent in the states- but perhaps I haven’t seen enough churches back home. Anyways, Marlene taught me how to recognize different architectural influences of the time. For example, the height of the churches - in their pillars and ceilings - comes from a Roman influence, who believed the height made them closer to God. The Gothic influence can be seen especially in pointed arches. The new structure of pointed arches and vaulted ceilings allowed for new architectural styles, which places more weight on the ceiling and less on the walls. Baroque, on the other hand, is much more extravagant than Gothic or Romanesque style churches. Gothic churches tend to be intimidating (remember my pictures of the Cologne Cathedral?), while Baroque styled churches are much more ornate. The insides are white, bright, and gold. I personally thought the Baroque ones were less depressing than Gothic churches, but too over the top for my tastes. It made me think of Greek Gods for some reason.
This is not in Nuremberg - it’s actually in Freystadt, a church Markus (Marlene’s brother) took me to see the next day. I just wanted to show a contrast in architecture and style compared to St. Lorenz or even the Koelner Dom. Can you guess which influence this one has?
Next we walked to the Burg, or castle. On a side note: A Schloss and Burg are not the same thing, although both words mean castle - a Burg is smaller. Anyways, on top of the Burg, there was a great view of the city, even despite the slight cloudiness. Up by the castle seemed like a great place to study. It was quiet, not a lot of people and I’m sure in the spring or early fall, it would be wonderful to sit outside in the great weather.
By the Burg.
Afterwards we walked to Fembohaus, which is the city museum. Probably my biggest regret in Nuremberg was taking the German audio tour, instead of the English one. A quick note of how audio tours work (because I had never took one before then): Guests can choose to take a audio-playback device through the museum. Certain paintings, sculptures, or scenes have a number code that you enter into the audio device. It thens plays something about the work. Although I believe my German is proficient enough, to understand the majority of what was going on, it would have been nicer to have the information in English. I found that many times I had to ask Marlene to clarify certain points, or I was only getting a portion of the history. But, I still did learn a lot. For example, 95% of Nuremberg was destroyed during World War II. It was the city with the most destruction. Before the war, it was also one of the richest. Another interesting fact, for all the soldiers who’s homes had been destroyed in the war, monuments were placed up on the sides of new buildings, recognizing their efforts in the war and remembering where there homes once stood.
Marlene also helped me pick up some souveniers for family and friends while I was in Nuremberg. I would tell you, but some of you may be receiving said gifts upon my return, and I wouldn’t want to spoil anything :) We went to the Hauptmarkt (main market place) where the famous Christkindlmarkt (christmas market) is held every winter. Even though I was there in the spring, I was lucky and got to see the Easter Market that was held. She helped me pick out real German trinkets/gifts, since apparently, many of the market stands were selling foreign wares.
This is a church topper that sits next to the main market place.
We also went to a cute cafe and drank Cappucinos and ate Kuchen. If I haven’t told you before, this is a very “German thing to do.” In the afternoon or after a meal, its typical to drink coffee and get a dessert with friends or coworkers. A tradition I think I will be taking home with me.
The Pegnitz River runs through Nuremberg. On the river, there is this small island that holds a Troedelmarkt (I believe its similar to a rummage sale).
View of the Pegnitz River.
View of the Troedelmarkt island.
I also saw the Ehebrunnen, or the marriage fountain. It’s a satirical fountain that shows, the bittersweet
We ate dinner together at a chinese restaurant and then headed to her home. Her house is about 45 minutes away by car. I got to experience the Autobahn, which was very different. For the majority, there is no defined speed limit, though designated areas along the Autobahn will have assigned speed limits. I think I saw 120 kph (when restricted) which is about 75 mph. But it was also late in the evening when we were heading home, so we didn’t go to fast - which I did not mind.
We arrived at her house around 9:30 pm. Because it was late and dark, I didn’t get to see much of her
town village. I can’t even call it a town, because its not. Forchheim, the village where her family lives, has a population of 700 people.
It was wonderful to meet her family; they were so nice, very welcoming, and great hosts. I was so anxious about meeting her family, because as some of you may know, I’m not a great conversationalist. I was so excited to meet them up until the train ride to Nuremberg, when I realized that I’d have to carry on a conversation with practically strangers for the whole weekend. But the weekend turned out to be perfect really. Her family is just so accomodating; they were encouraging and gave me confidence in the language. I am so glad I had the chance to spend the weekend with them.
I just got back from a two week Spring Break of sorts and although I had a blast, I am happy to be back in Marburg. I feel like I need to decompress. Travelling around Europe for two weeks sounds like a blast- and it is!- but it also takes a lot out of you.
The past few weeks I have been in an unshakeable funk. Every day is a series of ups and downs and I guess its just been getting to me. I always try hard to think positive, but lately its just been difficult. I want to take so much out of this experience here abroad, because I know how lucky I am to have this opportunity.
Yet somehow I feel like I’m just going to disappoint myself. Disappoint others. I dwell on how much money I’m spending. I hate the dependency we all have on money and it causes me more stress than anything else. Is the experience worth the expense? I can barely enjoy certain pleasures because all I see is a price tag. I’m always thinking about what I’m learning-whether its enough, whether I can take things back and apply it-and I think I’m just putting too much pressure on myself. Because when I look at all the things I’ve accomplished here, it’s amazing.
Its always a tug-of-war. And I really think all of it comes down to positive thinking. If we sit in our misery or our unhappiness or dwell on the source of our “funk,” we prolong the sadness. I just finished reading my friend Britta’s most recent blog (http://brittainmarburg.blogspot.de/2012/04/oh-happy-day.html?spref=fb) and I guess it’s really inspiring. When we make the effort to see the light, things really aren’t as bad as they may seem.
A couple weeks ago we were blessed with GREAT weather. Everyone would head to the Mensa (cafeteria) after class, grab some food, and head out on the Lahn. The Lahn is the river that flows through Marburg- hence the name Marburg on the Lahn (River). It is a great space to hang out, play guitar, grill food, or just soak up some sun. People ride paddle boats on the river or play frisbee. Its almost comparable to our mall on EC campus- except a bit cooler haha.
Hmmm. What can I say about Saint Patrick’s Day? Well, most Europeans don’t know what it is. I didn’t expect that. We still celebrated American style.
Which means: Jello shots. We prepped two days ahead of time and made about 140 jello shots and a bowl full of vodka-soaked gummy bears. The other international students seemed a little wary as they ate their dinner in the kitchen, while Tori, Kelsey and I made the jello shots. A little embarrassing? Yes. Living our stereotype? Oh definitely.
Anyways, I think the majority of people had a good time. If I’m being honest (which I’m trying to be, as my goal was to keep this blog as honest as possible) I drank too much. We took the train to Frankfurt for something different and went to an Irish pub. However I
got weepy started balling when I thought I lost my brand new camera. In reality, someone else had just been taking pictures with it. It was just one of those nights.
But I hope people still enjoyed themselves.
Although I’m not exactly thrilled with the way things turned out, I’m going to learn from my error and try to make the same mistake.
I was sooo fortunate to be able to spend a weekend with Rachel in Germany! She came to visit me and we had an absolutely fantastic time.
I skipped class and took the train to Frankfurt to pick her up from the airport bright and early Friday morning. Since we were already in Frankfurt, we decided to explore a bit and I am so glad we did. Rachel got to see Frankfurt and I got to experience to parts of Frankfurt I had never seen before!
First we headed over to the really cool shopping center which I’ve shown you all before (its the weird glass one with the ceiling and walls being sucked in, remember?)
Rachel spotted a cool church so we decided to check it out. For a small entrance fee, we climbed to the top and saw some great views of Frankfurt. I believe this was the first REALLY NICE day we had. Rachel picked a great weekend to visit because we had clear skies and warm weather the whole time :)
climbing to the top!
Inside the church! I love German churches.
Afterwards we headed over to the Marktplatz and people watched for awhile. While we sipped our water and juice, I tried to snap photos (unsuccessfully) of fashionable Europeans. Creeper status earned.
We also discovered a cool outdoor market a couple streets down! I love German markets! They are so cute and there is always something new. We walked through meat stands, bread shops, fruit and veggie markets, and even saw a man doing some woodwork.
As we were exploring Frankfurt, we came upon a free art museum, so OBVIOUSLY we went in. It was pretty cool. I mean, I’m not a big art person- I always feel like I misinterpret it, but it was interesting nonetheless.
We then walked across the bridge and sat on the lake. Frankfurt has a mini lock bridge of its own! Rachel was so impressed haha. She should have been to Cologne! We sat along the water for awhile and just relaxed. Rachel took too many swan photos.
After a few hours exploring Frankfurt, we headed home to Marburg and got settled in. Some friends of mine wanted to have a bonfire and drink up at the castle so we put that on our agenda. At the bonfire we met some Germans and listened to guitar and made smores. I love bonfires. I love the atmosphere and it reminds me of summer.
We then headed up to the castle, which was really fun! I had never gone up at night, so it was a fun and new experience. We drank some wine and beer and hung out. It was a nice change- we usually tend to go to bars or clubs and I like just chilling with my friends.
I love this photo.
Shots of Orgasmus.
The next day we explored Marburg. We lucked out again with great weather and our first stop was: Elizabethkirche!
We took some photos of the church and then headed to the Oberstadt. We were even there on one of the hours so Rachel got to experience the Rathouse bird : P Basically, there is a bird on top of the old city hall in the Oberstadt. Every hour-on the hour- this bird flaps its wings. It is not cool and definitely a waste of time, but we happened to be there on the hour, so why not experience a bit of old Marburg culture, eh?
Rachel and I had a lovely day. I got to take all the goofy photos I had been embarrassed to take on my own and we had a Senior-Photo-Retake Session. We walked up to the castle around noon so Rachel could really get a good view of Marburg. Then, we walked around a small park that is up by the castle.
Did you notice that the steeple of the church is crooked?
Sunday we watched Howl’s Moving Castle (Obviously a must! But we missed Alex) and went to the Biergarten called Spiegellust near the Wilhelm-Kaiser-Turm, which is otherwise referred to as the Rapunzel tower. We ate a huge lunch consisting of a baked potatoe and tzaziki (spelling most likely false) with a delicious salad. Then we went to the Rapunzel tower and climbed to the top for another great view of Marburg. She also sang me that creepy lullaby about a princess and a wizard… One the way down, Rachel made me call up to her in the tower, “Rapunzel Rapunzel, let down your long hair.”
And I was uncomfortable.
I thoroughly enjoyed our weekend together and wouldn’t have changed anything…except possibly St. Patrick’s Day- but that comes in the next post.
Our weekend trip to Köln was the first official “trip” I’ve taken. And as the first trip, it has set pretty high standards. I travelled to Köln, or in English, Cologne, with Britta, Tori and Lauren. We left on Friday after class and came back on Sunday. Britta had been kind enough to do the majority of the planning. She found us cheap train tickets and found us a pretty nice hostel.
First of all, the train ride there was gorgeous. At least, from what I saw of it. I have this problem, you see: Trains make me sooo sleepy. Which can be a good thing sometimes, like when you’re coming home after a long trip. But it’s not so great when you want to actually see and enjoy the views. Anyways, the train ride to Köln was so beautiful. We really got to see what some of the smaller German communities looked like. It kind of felt like a movie. The train, travelling through the hills and hillside tunnels, along rivers and through towns.. and being able to see villages that had built their homes alongside mountains.
Köln is a very active city. Our hostel was in a great location for students- you could walk 5 blocks in any direction and find countless places to eat, drink and dance. On the other side of the city, were the cultural, tourist attractions. I thought it was a nice balance.
The first day we were there we just walked around the “student area” (as I will call it) and explored a bit. We ate dinner at a pizza place and were seated next to some friendly Germans (which believe it or not, are hard to come by). That is something to note about Germany: sometimes you will share a table with strangers. Now this has only actually happened once, but I don’t think it’s uncommon here. Whereas in the US, if a table for 8 only has 4 people sitting at it, the waiter won’t place strangers next to you. Anyways, we ate some delicious pizza and talked to the Germans for a bit. We learned (or rather reminded) that it is rude say, “Was?” when asking “What?” Instead, “Wie bitte?” or just “bitte” is much more polite. Although I’ve learned this before, I noticed just how difficult it can be when talking quickly. I just need to starting thinking more in German, rather than translating from English to German in my head…
We actually stayed at this pizza place for awhile and ordered a few cocktails. (Did I mention this weekend was an expensive one?) Though I’m sure Lauren was in heaven because there was a soccer game on, so she definitely didn’t mind how long we stayed J The waitress also gave us free shots of Tequila after asking us to move to a smaller table. Yay Tequila.
Afterwards, we headed over to Soul Bar, which was a very bumpin’ (as Tori would say) but smokey bar. We ordered a couple more cocktails – while Lauren tried to drink her salad of a Mojito- and met another American. She had moved to Germany about 5 years ago on somewhat of a whim. She said she was unhappy with her life and wanted a change and then, ended up in Germany. It’s kind of inspiring to talk to someone who just up and left. It reminds me that anything is really possible in life and I don’t have to follow the typical “go to school, get a degree, find a career, get married” lifestyle.
On to Saturday.
I truly enjoyed Saturday. This was when we really got to do the touristy stuff and see more of Köln. Although I dislike appearing like an American tourist, doing some touristy things makes me feel like I can bring some stories back to my friends and family. Plus, they’re actually really interesting. The first thing we did that day is walk to the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral). This thing was HUGE. I mean, scary, intimidating, I-can’t-even-imagine-how-they-built-that HUGE.
People are allowed to see a small portion of the Cathedral for free, but if you really want to experience the Dom, you’ll have to pay some money. However, as students we always get a discount and the Dom is actually quite affordable to see. We decided to pay the 1,50 Euro and climb to the top of one of the towers. Now, let me start off by saying that Europe loves its spiral staircases. I feel like anytime we go into a church there are spiral staircases. I personally find that they make me dizzy and claustrophobic. The staircases weren’t actually that narrow in the Dom, but because at certain times, traffic was going both ways, it made it very difficult and nerve-wracking to climb up those stairs. It was nice, however, that you could disguise your rests as photo ops. I mean, who can climb 533 stairs all in one go? In addition, about 2/3 of the way to the top there was a side route to see the bells, so that was a nice change of scenery while climbing to the top. Seriously though, every time we would take a corner or walk onto a platform, we thought we had reached the top. But no, it just always led to more stairs.
We made it to the top! Whew.
The climb was totally worth it though. We were lucky enough to have great weather, so the view was gorgeous.
It was a bit scary though. If I got to close to the edge it made me nervous. On the climb up there was girl having a panic attack-I’m assuming related to heights- and it was so sad. I definitely understood though.
I had thought the climb up was not very pleasant, but I enjoyed the hike down less. It seemed to drag on and all of our legs turned to jelly. Have you ever had that sensation? We were trying to walk outside and our legs were just so shaky.
Obviously the next thing to do was get a Brötchen!
And try on American Flag scarves. Let’s be tourists!
In Köln there is a lock-bridge. I feel like almost any big city has them, but Köln’s bridge was definitely exceptional. The entire bridge was completely covered in locks, which displayed names of couples. It really is amazing and makes me wonder why people do it. Is it sentimental or symbolic- making your love permanent somehow by locking it to a bridge? My cynical self wondered how many of those couples are actually still together… But the whole thing is still beautiful in a way.
And since we were four girls travelling together, we naturally had to go experience the Imhoff-Lindt Chocolate Museum J It was a bit overpriced, but I did learn quite a bit. We learned how chocolate is producted, from planting and harvesting to how it is processed in the factory. It went along with my class as well because we had been discussing fair trade, so it was interesting to see the theory in action. We even got a free sample of chocolate, which is never a bad deal. But all in all, the Shokolademuseum was a tourist trap and not worth the money we paid to tour it.
Now before I begin describing Saturday night, I need to say one thing: What are the chances?
Throughout our entire trip, we would turn to each other and just say, “Really? What are the chances of that?” We experienced so many coincidences in Cologne, it was crazy.
First of all, while touring Cologne, we saw some fellow Marburg students from UWEC, who just happened to be in there the same weekend at the same museum. Secondly, we saw other American students from Marburg- who are not in our program, but we have seen around quite a bit.
Then, when we went back to our hostel that night, guess who was staying in that same exact hostel? Some Americans from Marburg. It was actually really fun though. We got to know some other American students from across the state, as well as travelers from Norway, Syria, and Britain. We chatted in the kitchen, drank some beer and wine, and sang songs on the guitar.
Want to know the easiest and fastest way to make German friends? Start playing Wonderwall on the guitar. Probably my FAVORITE part of our Köln trip was sitting in the kitchen around a guitar and hearing every single person sing that song.
Also, I almost forgot (how could I?!). Tori, Britta, Lauren and I walked through the shopping market earlier that day and saw street musicians who were AMAZING. We must have stood there for about 8 songs. Before we left, Tori put her number in their open guitar case with the note, “Beers later?” And they called. DIVA.
Afterwards, we decided to go out together to a club in Köln. We went to das Ding (The Thing) and danced all night. I was quite surprised that good music was played and it was a nice balance between German and American music. Lauren introduced me to some dental students she met; we danced and even got a few (or more) free drinks! Diva diva.
That was pretty much Cologne. It was a good balance between tourism and city life. No regrets.
It is beautiful and sunny and I am having a wonderful day!
Yesterday, however, was not really my day. All I wanted to do was sit out on the Lahn (that’s the river that runs through Marburg), soak up some sun, and read my book. That is something else that has been annoying me. I checked out the second Eragon book, Eldest, almost a month ago and I’m still not done! This is mostly due to the fact that it is not my favorite book in the series and some parts just seem to draggggggg on. But, I feel like people are starting to judge me because I’ve brought the same book to class for the past 4 weeks. Ugh, I just want to be done with it. :) Anyways, back on topic. Yesterday was annoying because I just wanted to relax before going to Frankfurt later that night. Instead, I spent about an hour and a half in the Stadtbuero waiting to pick up my Visa.
On a more positive note, I GOT MY VISA! Yay. Now I can officially travel out of the country legally. That’s always good. Though I did find it quite odd that a few students have not even applied for their Visas yet… In case you’re not familiar with the system, we are allowed to stay and/or travel within Europe for 90 days without a Visa. After that, if we try to leave and re-enter Germany, we will most likely be detained as illegal citizens. So, it is essential to apply for your Visa before this 90 day period is up. However, because Visas take anywhere from 4-6 weeks to be approved, you really need to apply for a Visa before the 90 days is up. Unfortunately for a couple students, they will be unable to travel outside of Germany (for our April Spring Break) because they just applied for a Visa today. Fingers crossed. Or thumbs pressed, as the Germans would say.
In addition to getting my Visa, I went to see Heterotopia by William Forsythe! Last semester in my dance appreciation class we briefly covered some of William Forsythe’s works. He is a contemporary ballet choreographer, whose company just happens to be in Frankfurt (a convenient hour away). Needless to say, I was very excited. Britta Jepsen came with me and I think she enjoyed herself. Now when many people hear ballet, they think of Swan Lake or the Nutcracker or maybe even Romeo and Juliet (my favorite by the way). This was not that. Contemporary ballet breaks out of the boundaries of classical ballet and generally moves into more modern or abstract dance. That is definitely what this performance was. And I can’t even say it was a performance. It was an experience.
So earlier that day I was freaking out because when I double checked the tickets, I realized Britta and I didn’t even have seats next to each other. How lame is that? Take a girl to a abstract and possibly weird contemporary ballet show and you can’t even sit together?! Well, after we walked in the door of the Frankfurt LAB performance room, I knew it wouldn’t be a problem. As we walked in, we noticed there were two halves of the performance space. On the right was a typical looking stage area with covered bleachers for the audience to sit. Behind the bleachers was a black curtain. On the left there was a stage constructed of tables. However there were some tables vertical, some on their sides, and some not pushed together (so gaps were formed). During the performance(s) the audience was able to move around, sometimes watching the table dance, and sometimes watching the stage dance. It was quite interesting to see how the two seemingly separate pieces were joined together and dancers ran between stages. Additionally, in the table space, microphones were used by the dances to create their music. For the most part, gibberish was spoken, along with bird calls, random noises. For the other dance, an orchestra was playing, but the microphones from the other dance was loud enough to act as music for both. Sometimes I found the noises distracting, but I found the entire structure of the choreography so interesting, that it didn’t really matter.
I find I often resort to analyzing how a dance, in its structure, form, patterns, influences, was created, rather than figuring out “what it means.” I could probably talk all day about different aspects of the piece and the movement vocabulary and stage space, but I will move on :)
Today is still gorgeous and I’m currently sitting outside with Kelsey. I am glad its Friday and I can just relax and sit in the sun and people watch. I love just sitting here and listening to the different languages (there are many international students) and watching people interact. I also like observing the very fashionable European women. So jealous!
I haven’t decided what I’m going to do tonight yet. I heard of a Latino party, and every Friday Club Knubel has Salsa Dancing.. But I’ll figure that out later. For now I’m content with writing, reading, and having a relaxing afternoon.
As a part of our study abroad program, we get to take 3 excursions throughout Germany. (They’re included in the tuition). A couple of weeks ago, we took our first excursion to Heidelberg.
Heidelberg is about 2 hours away by train. Our program coordinator (on the German end of things), Rouven, organises our excursions and I thought he did a pretty good job on this one.
The first thing we did after we arrived was visit the University Karzer, or university prison. If you’re puzzled by what that means, don’t worry, I was too. Apparently, back in the early 1900s, after the second World War, the university would regularly imprison their students who broke the university’s code of conduct. This could be anything from public drunkenness, letting the pigs into the streets, or knocking off the police officer’s hat for fun. Whenever the students would get into trouble, they were sent to this “prison.” Now, they were allowed to go to class (of course), but had to come back to the prison building directly after. There were two beds per room, a desk, chair, and even bars on the windows. To fill their time, the students would often play cards or carve their names and crimes onto the desks or walls.
Our giant group of Americans. It’s hard to be discreet and claim your not a tourist when walking in a group this large.
The Student Prison.
Soon however, this “punishment” turned into a trend. Every student had to go to the Karzer at least once in his college career. The whole thing became a joke. Students would even bring supplies with them, like paint, so that they could graffiti the walls with their silhouettes, crimes, subsequent punishments, and fraternity colors.
This is one of my favorite graffite pieces:
We also learned, that almost all of the students (at the time) were active in fraternities. It was uncommon and strange if a student wasn’t part of a fraternity. However, these “Verbindungen” are not like American fraternities.
Sitting in the bar/dining area at the fraternity house.
We took a tour of Rouven’s fraternity house and learned a lot about how the old fraternities were run. For example, everyone had to take up fencing as a sport. It’s not the type of fencing where the two opponents move towards and away from each other. Rather, they would face each other, with one hand behind their backs and simple aim for the head. Those who had small scars accumulated on their faces were instantly recognized as “academics” (especially during the war) and these scars showed their bravery and commitment to the fraternity and school.
One of the meeting rooms of the fraternity.
Proper fencing form.
We also toured the university auditorium. Looks fancy, doesn’t it?
Rouven also gave us time in the afternoon to go and explore Heidelberg ourselves. Tori, Britta, Lauren, Karl and I walked through the Altstadt (or old city) and looked at the cute little shops .We also walked along the river and saw people learning how to row.
Another castle. I think every city has a castle or a castle in ruins. We didn’t visit this one, because it was so cloudy out.
Britta and I eating “Schneeballen” or snowballs! These were delicious, but very sweet.
Heidelberg has gorgeous houses along the river.
I’m not really sure what they’re doing exacty.
Random people learning how to row!
I’d also like to say thanks to everyone who took pictures that day. These pictures are from Karl Enghofer, Oksana Oksamyta, and Lauren Seiwert.
German Word of the Day (because I keep forgetting these):