Thursday, May 8, 2014

First week!


We have now been in Germany for over a week and have done so much! The entire class lives in the Marburg area in Germany with their host families. Marburg is a beautiful city just north of Frankfurt in the state of Hessen. The Oberstadt (Old City) is filled with shops and very nice restaurants where we have eaten everything from schnitzel, currywurst, and döner. We are all taking class at Speak & Write, which is a school in Marburg specifically for learning the German language. Coming into the trip knowing very little German I have already learned so much in just a short amount of time.

Last week our class took a few excursions. The first of which to beautiful Heidelberg. Heidelberg lies right on the Rhein River with beautiful views of the city from the castle. The castle in Heidelberg not only had a great view of the city, but also was rich in history and has survived hundreds of years. Our next stop was to Köln. You may have heard of the infamous Kölner Dom, the incredible Gothic cathedral in Köln (Cologne). The Dom had been built over hundreds of years, even surviving bombings during WWII which destroyed much of the city of Köln except for the Dom.

Our final excursion of the week took place in München (Munich). Grüß Gott (God's greetings), is a common greeting in Bavaria where Munich is located. Bavaria is an interesting place as the locals' accents are slightly different than in Hessen and even parts of the language is different. Interestingly enough some of the Germans we have met along the way said they often can hardly understand the German spoken in Bavaria. During our first full day in Munich we took a tour of the city and Marienplatz. The next day we spent touring around the land once ruled by the eccentric former King of Bavaria, Ludwig II. Ludwig II became king at just 18 in the mid-1800s and always had a fascination with old fairy tales and Richard Wagner operas. The first castle we toured was Schloss Linerhof. In the Linderhoff you can clearly see the inspiration from fairy tales and Wagner operas as they are painted all over the ceilings and walls. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures in either of the castles.

The next castle we toured was Walt Disney's inspiration for Sleepy Beauty's castle, Schloss Neuschwanstein (pictured below from the bridge). Neuschwanstein is a gorgeous castle nestled in the Alps with unbelievable views of Bavaria. The views from the bridge of the Schloss and the small Bavarian towns in the background were absolutely breathtaking. Unfortunately King Ludwig II was not able to live in Schloss Neuschwanstein very long. He was diagnosed "insane" by doctors that had never seen him before and was dragged out of the Schloss (some parts of Neuschwanstein remain unfinished). Shortly after, Ludwig II was walking one day with his psychiatrist and later they were both found dead in a nearby lake. To this day no one knows what happened on that day. Some believe he drowned the psychiatrist and then himself because he was insane. Others believe it was the other way around and the psychiatrist murdered Ludwig II because of the debts he carried in order to build his eccentric castles. I could go on about Ludwig II for days.

This week we started are first official week of school. We are separated in a few different classes based on our level of German. There are people from many different countries in our classes including Brazil, Syria, China, and South Africa.

It has been an exciting and eye-opening week and a half! Tomorrow (Freitag) we will be heading to Berlin for a weekend filled with culture and history.

Until next time... Tschüss! (Bye)

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