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.
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.
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.
I 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)!