May Term in Germany 2019

Nick Zurasky
May Term Abroad
Münster, Germany

 

This week has been a blast. It started out as a normal week with classes and walking around the city, but this weekend I went to Cologne. I ordered a ticket for a train earlier in the week, and this past Saturday I traveled to the city. On my way in, I did not see the main cathedral, but right out of the train station, I was met with the immense height of the cathedral. I felt pretty, insignificant standing under such a monolithic structure. The cathedral had delicate and beautiful designs on its façade, and the inside was impressive in its own right. I went with two other students around the cathedral and into the main part of the city of Cologne. We walked up and down the bank of the Rhine, and it was amazing to see a river with such rich history of Roman and German culture. Along the bank of the river we found a chocolate museum, and we went inside to find that the chocolate sold there was cheaper than the chocolate sold in stores. After the chocolate museum we walked back north and went to the Cologne zoo. We saw many animals including a hippo, a couple elephants, and even some giraffes. We ended up at an old bar, and I had some of the best liver I have ever had in my life. The taste was so much better than I expected. Afterwards, we went to an Irish pub and met an Australian woman. We talked with her for a little, but then we left to find more things to do. All in all, it was a very, very fun weekend, and I cannot wait to explore more of Germany!

Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral)

May Term in Germany 2019

Nick Zurasky
May Term Abroad 2019
Münster, Germany

Wartburg Castle Eisenach, Germany

I’ve never been to Europe before, so this is my first time experiencing a whole other culture 4,000 miles away from home. I will say that my first week and a half in Germany has been one of the best parts of my life so far. I have seen so many new and exciting places to explore, and I’ve loved every single place I have been to. I have already visited two castles while in Germany, and both of them have stunned me. Seeing just how old some of these places are really is mindboggling.

St. Lambert’s Church
Münster, Germany

The city of Münster is a very nice place to be as well. I can walk to a café not even 10 minutes down the road, or I can take a bus into the main square and look for more shops. My host family has made it very easy for me to be able to be on my own, and experience German culture at its best. Most days here I hop on a bus near my house, put in headphones to listen to music, and ride all the way to the main market to find a café to relax at. German food is also amazing. I’ve never had more delicious sausages, or even potatoes. The quality of the food here is on another level as compared to America. I honestly think America should take some lessons in food preparation from Germany.
Now there is one thing that Germany is probably most well-known for, and that is the beer. Since I am legally able to drink beer in Germany, I will say that I have tasted many different types of beer. People were not lying to me when they said that German beer is cheap in cost, but high in quality. The culture around beer here is much different than America, and it is honestly sad to see how much stigma is placed on drinking in America. The German beer I have had is mostly local brews, and the brewers really care about their craft. Their goal is not to get someone drunk, it is to create a great tasting beer that people will enjoy during the evening. I genuinely cannot wait to experience more of the culture with my 4 remaining weeks here. Germany, by far, has been one of, if not, my favorite experiences ever.

May Term in Münster

Donald Barry
May Term Abroad
Münster, Germany

Visiting State Parliament

Nearing the end of my trip here in Münster I can honestly say that it has been a blast. Individually I have met many unique and friendly people around the city. As a group we have recently been able to meet with a Parliament representative for North Rhein – Westphalia and see how the laws are made for the state we are staying in. I found it very interesting to see the State Parliament where laws could be made to impact the family of my favorite local döner shop, or the school that we study at in the city. We often think that just because something is foreign that it is beyond comprehension, when in reality it is closer to home than we were led to believe.

scenic church view

Our final day of class is Wednesday and we leave for our final destination of Berlin Thursday before departure. Saying goodbye to my host family will be close to saying goodbye to my own family. The program has selected amazing people to host us and make us feel welcomed for our stay here in Münster. I will probably miss the day to day living the most. I will miss stopping at the same bakery every morning before class to grab a small snack before class. I will miss seeing the husband and wife that own the local döner shop and having conversations about the soccer game from the previous evening. Most of all I will miss family dinner time where everyday my house family and I would sit down to a homemade meal and recollect on our day and laugh over small jokes.

Anyone considering studying abroad should stop considering and just do it, and those who have not considered it should start to.

 

May Term in Münster

Donald Barry
May Term Abroad
Münster, Germany

Historic Münster

We cannot really have a study abroad without the study portion. Personally, I am taking a 495 independent study which is a progressive study of the architecture of Münster from it’s earliest beginnings in the Dom Platz, to its more modern architecture with office buildings designed to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. No matter the level of study here in Münster we students find ourselves in situations where we need a bit of help.

Coffee with Dr. Johnson

Coffee with Dr. Martz

Along with help at home from our host families, Dr. Johnson and Dr. Martz frequently set up meetings at the popular Marktcafé in the city center. At this historic cafe near the city center, we can enjoy delicious varieties of pastries and other foods along with a large culmination of lattes, cappuccinos, and other coffee based drinks. Well, enjoying these great amenities while sitting down with our professors and getting one on one feedback and guidance on our assignments. The work based meetings are never strenuous with a fresh strudel and warm cappuccino.

May Term in Münster

Don Barry
May Term Abroad
Münster, Germany

Now that I have been here in Münster for two weeks, I have found myself falling into a routine that makes me feel as if I am a true Münster resident. I wake up every morning, to get ready and catch the Diekmannstraße Bus 11 to get to the Johann Schlaun Gymnasium, where our classes are held. As soon as I step of the bus at the Servatiplatz stop, I find myself in front of a bakery with the aroma of heaven. Each morning, I spend less than a euro for a small baked treat to eat for breakfast. I then walk a short distance to our school. After classes, I take the Tannenhof Bus 11 to return home. When I reach my stop to go home I find myself in front my favorite place in all of Münster. This place is a small, neighborhood Döner shop. Döner, is a Turkish sandwich filled with vegetables, tzatziki, and a mixture of chicken, beef, and lamb for the protein. Not only is the sandwich delicious and filling, but you are able to watch the chef shave the meat from a large cone that cooks rotisserie style. I realized my fascination with this restaurant had turned into an addiction, when the chef began to recognize me coming in so often and now knows my order completely. It is the simple things, like befriending the chef at your favorite eatery, that makes the connection to the city and the program even deeper.

As for our entire group, we’ve been very welcomed in the city of Münster. We were given a private tour of the town hall where the Treaty of Westphalia was signed. In addition, we were given another tour of the cities museum of art and culture. There were many fascinating paintings, including an original Andy Warhol.

 

Münster Group with Professors Johnson and Martz

May Term in Münster

Don Barry
May Term Abroad
Münster, Germany

I chose the Muenster Program because of the opportunity it offered for an immersive cultural experience in a city that is far older than our country. I am double majoring in Foreign Affairs and German at Hampden-Sydney College and I believe to truly understand how foreign countries operate you must experience these countries first hand.

I was very pleased with the level of hospitality given by my host family. I feel like I am becoming more and more a part of the German society daily by riding on public transport, eating at local restaurants, and attending the local school.

So far, my favorite thing that I have been a part of is the local outdoor market that is held every Wednesday and Sunday in the large city center known as the Domplatz or Cathedral Square in English. This market is where the local residents come to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables along with goods produced locally. It was great to buy fresh fruits and vegetables knowing that it was grown just minutes from where I am staying.

My only concern with coming on this trip was the mastery of the public transportation system. Here in Muenster, there are many buses with select routes that run at very specific times and for someone who has never taken part in prolonged public transportation, this seemed like a daunting task. While I worried about this, my host family reassured me and helped me map out which buses I needed for school and when they would arrive and depart. Muenster is a fantastic historical and beautiful city.

Germany — Matt Carter

July 11, 2015

Hello for one last time, the summer Münster program has ended and all of the students have returned home. The experience was definitely one to remember and one I hope that other students will take in the future. Although, it is quite different once you get across the pond; Germany drives on the right side of the road, but much of the similarities stop there. The architecture is a beautiful mixture of old buildings hundreds of years old and modern architecture with glass as the main element. These two very different styles of architecture are extremely beautiful to look at when meshed together. The vehicles were much nicer considering Porsche, BMW, VW, & Jaguar were made over there making them much cheaper to own. The public transport system was amazing and heavily used by the people due to it being efficient and effective. Lastly, the way they eat is different from the way we do, they eat bread and jam for breakfast and dinner, but have a large lunch where the family will leave their work and come home to eat with the family. I believe I will miss the opportunity to travel to other places so easily, meaning that I was able to just hop on a train and travel to another country in a short amount of time considering if I wanted to hop on a train over here and travel the same amount of time, I would still be in the same state. I think I will also miss the wonderful food while traveling abroad including the currywurst and bratwurst.

The advice I would give to students planning on going on this abroad trip is to realize that Europe is cooler than America. The weather typically hovers around the lower 60s and high 50s, so pack warm! I mistakenly packed for warm weather and was cold for most of my time there. Also, realize that Euros are stronger than the US Dollar and you will end up spending much more money than you will have originally wanted to, but realize that it is an experience of a lifetime and will be worth it.  I would definitely recommend traveling to other countries. Yes, you have gone on that specific program to experience Germany, but you will have a great opportunity to visit multiple other countries in a short amount of time and experience multiple different cultures.

The best thing about being home is that everyone speaks English. I no longer have to translate everything that is being said in my head. I also missed my bed and my shower. Also, it is great being home and being able to catch up with friends and telling stories about my time abroad and listening to what they have done for the last month. However, the hardest things is as soon as I got back I went right back to work.

Germany — Matt Carter

June 28

Today marks a month since we have been in the beautiful country of Germany. We are now wrapping up the semester with final projects, oral exams, and our final written exams in the coming week. Since my last blog the students have done quite a bit here in Münster. As I mentioned in the last post, some of the students were invited to an Opera at the Münster Theater where we were able to watch a French Opera adapted to the German language. It was a very interesting tale told by singers with extremely beautiful voices. We also visited the LWL- Arts and Culture Museum of Münster where were able to see contemporary art all the way up to modern art, some of which were very strange and curiously considered art.

Arts & Culture Museum

At the Arts & Culture Museum

 

 

 

 

A few of the students also made their way to the Picasso Museum where we also able to see some of Picasso’s work on display as well as the current visiting exhibit called “Paris im Blick” where black & white photos taken of Paris throughout the last hundred years were on display, some of which were very beautiful in their simplicity. The entire student group made their way to the StadtMuseum (City Museum) where we were able to see how Münster had grown throughout the years as well as what had happened to the city during World War I, the Weimar Republic, and World War II.

StadtMuseum

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the StadtMuseum

 

Some students also took the opportunity to go to the Münster Zoo. In my opinion, a very beautiful zoo with an amazing number of animals of which I took over 200 pictures1 of! The layout of the zoo had interactive exhibits to where you could walk into where Lemurs, monkeys, birds, & camel enclosures and be up close to the animals themselves. Afterwards we took a boat ride across Lake Aasee to the west of Münster and enjoyed a nice beer on one of the only boats on the lake. This past weekend the students also had the opportunity to experience the Carnival in town complete with fireworks on Friday evening and many fun rides and interesting carny foods to try. After all this activity in the last week, the students are now hunkering down preparing for finals and the eventual end of classes and thus the end of our time in Munster.

At the Zoo

At the Zoo

Wednesday is our last day of classes and our last day of finals after which many of the students will be going out and celebrating a successful study abroad month in Münster. Thursday marks our final day in the city we have grown to call home after living in it for a month hosted by our wonderful host families. Thursday evening we will be having dinner with all the students and their host families at the beautiful Schlossplatz Garden Restaurant. Although we have all thoroughly enjoyed our time here in Münster most of us are ready to head home and reunite with loved ones and friends. Before we are able to do that though we will be enjoying a few days in Berlin complete with multiple museum visits and the celebration of July 4th at an “American” Bar where we will be able to meet other Americans and celebrate Independence Day in our Patriotic clothing.

Germany — Matt Carter

Hello again! Es tut mir leid (I am sorry) about the wait! It has officially been two weeks in Münster and classes are in full swing! So far the students have been enjoying their classes and the city of Münster. A while ago, some of the students embarked on a day trip to Bremerhaven, Germany where we explored the Auswanderer (Emigration) Museum and the Climate Museum. In the Emigration museum we followed the tales of a German man leaving everything he had behind him in Germany as he embarked on the ship sailing to Ellis Island in New York. We were shown what the inside of the ships looked like and how packed the men were into bunk bed-style beds (3-4 men a bed!). Next we were shown the way that the immigrants made their way through Ellis Island and ultimately to Central Station in New York if they wished to travel further. The next story we were shown was that of a man immigrating to Germany and the struggles he faced to find a place to call home as well as finding a job in struggling times. We were shown an area that had stories of individuals dating back to the late 1800’s of both emigrating and immigrating men, women, and children. The next museum we visited was the Climate Museum where the museum path followed a line of latitude around the Earth beginning with Bremerhaven. The museum tour stopped in a few more places in Europe, then onto the deserts of Africa as well as the icecaps of Antarctica. Next, we went “up” to the heavens and saw Earth as it would appear at night before coming back “down” to earth to experience Samoa and its culture. All of these climates were not only shown to us, but also imitated through creation of hot/cold air, humidity, actual rain, and/or wind.

Water Bridge

Matt Carter ’18 Walks Across a Bridge over Water in the Climate Museum

20150604_153701

Zach Credle ’16 at the Climate Museum

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we had to leave the museum and return to Münster before we were able to see the entire museum. More recently we were given a long weekend by our professors and the students split into two groups, one headed for Florence, Italy and the other headed to Amsterdam, Netherlands. 12 of us made our way to Amsterdam by train and we arrived there around 6p on Thursday; we checked into our place for the weekend, Hostel Croydon, and immediately got started on exploring the city. Some of us made our way to the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, and took a trip of the city on a canal cruise. While others began their own unofficial walking tour of the city. Due to the fact that our Hostel was in the middle of the Red Light District (yes, that one) where pictures are not allowed to be taken, there are very few pictures of Amsterdam. The students enjoyed the many fruits of Amsterdam, not including the well-known occupants in certain windows with a certain colored light. Unfortunately that is all I can say about Amsterdam, but rest assured, the group that went there had an interesting weekend and many stories to tell.

Train to Amsterdam

On the Train to Amsterdam

Amsterdam Canals

Amsterdam Canals and Boat Traffic

Amsterdam Plaza

Plaza in Amsterdam

The other group that went to Florence, Italy had, to my knowledge, a wonderful time exploring the city, visiting the different museums, and tasting the many different Italian wines. Thankfully both groups returned safe and sound, bringing back many souvenirs, to Münster late Sunday night ready for the second half of our summer semester. Fortunately, all of the students have, thus far, enjoyed the city and are extremely happy with their host families. The students in the intermediate levels are slowly gaining more and more German vocabulary while the advanced level students are committing the language to memory and reinforcing what they have already learned. Coming up: we have been invited to an Opera on Wednesday, which is optional to the students, but I will be attending so I will be able to let you know how German Opera is! We will also be visiting the LWL-Museum on Wednesday which, after a quick google search, appears to be the Art and Culture Museum in Münster. Other places we will be visiting include the Stadtmuseum (City Museum on 6/25) and the Münster Zoo (6/27).

 

Matt Carter — Muenster, Germany

June 2, 2015

Hallo! Wie gehts es? You might not know what these “foreign” words are/mean, but I am simply asking “How are you?” in German, a common phrase said multiple times throughout the day.

So far we have been in Deutschland (Germany) for 5 days and what an eventful 5 days it was! After the grueling 8-8 ½ hour flight from the Dulles Airport to the Frankfurt Airport we hopped aboard a small puddle jumper plane to Düsseldorf where we made our way to the bus and head out for Köln (Cologne). The trip was long, but broken up by much needed naps in order to counteract the severe jet lag we all felt.

When we arrived in Cologne, one of the first buildings you see is the Cologne Cathedral, a massive Cathedral built before the 1900s that survived the bombings of not one, but two World Wars! In Cologne, I believe the most interesting thing we saw was the Cathedral itself, the level of detail and sheer size of the building was enough to make any student stare in awe at its magnificence. During the World Wars Cologne was demolished by the Allied bombings, all except the Cathedral, which, I believe, adds to its surreal appearance. The fine detail carved into the statue as well as the meticulous care that the Priests took with all the items in the church including the Three Wise Mens’ tombs, multiple depictions of Jesus Christ on the cross, and the beautiful furnishings placed behind ropes that visitors could only look at.

Tigers in front of the Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Cologne we then rode another bus to our home for the next month: Münster. As we entered the city we got more and more nervous hoping upon hope that we would have good host families and a nice place to stay over the next place. My host family was the first ones there and thus I was the first to leave to head off on my own adventure on my side of Münster. The family I am staying with is the Schülings (Dr. & Mrs.) and they have 3 sons. One is studying abroad in our country, the other has moved out of this home, and the third, Neils, still lives here and is in the German equivalent of 12th grade.

Originally meeting my host family was an awkward experience personally. I have never left the country and certainly never moved to another home for a month. However, that awkwardness quickly faded to familiarity; the family is not strict with rules and lets me come and go from the house as I please (they have given me a key) as long as I let them know when I leave and if I might be out late. The brother and I have bonded pretty quickly and the entire family helps me practice my German while they use me to (sometimes) practice their English! The parents are both very nice and (thankfully) fluent in English in case I cannot communicate in my “Germ-ish” language I have been speaking here.

They have kindly let me stay on the second floor of their home, which used to be a duplex, but has since been combined, next to their son. I have my own bathroom and they kindly wash any laundry that I make. My bed is slightly small, but that is okay because I curl up into a neat little ball when I sleep which keeps my feet from hanging off. I do not have a dresser, but instead have folded my clothes onto the ground next to my bed.

Matt's Room

 

 

 

 

My first impressions of Münster was that it felt like an intimidating large city that I would never be able to get around let alone figure out where the different buses stop! Slowly, but surely I have begun to recognize and be able to walk around certain parts of the city without a map out and have actually learned which buses I need to take in order to get where I am going thanks to the “Fahrplan MS” and “CityMaps2Go” phone apps. Yet, as the program moves on I hope to, obviously, be able to speak better German (only taken 102 before) and make the most of my first trip in Europe.

 

Train Station ViewI hope to explore the city more and be able to visit the museums and maybe a few pubs as well as explore other countries. Many in our group have planned a trip to Amsterdam for our long weekend, not this weekend, but next, and I have also planned a personal trip to Paris one weekend so that I may be able to explore that city for a weekend. I also look forward to many more pictures and great stories to tell you all as we Hampden-Sydney Men wander our way through Deutschland far, far from The Hill.

Auf Wiedersehen (Goodbye)!