Location: Muenster, Germany
Form of Adventure today: sport, in the form of a nice long run through gremmendorf, a bike ride to Bianca\'s with Rachel(which is about an hour one way), and some rollerblading (in which Bianca met the ground a few times, and got up close and personal with some unsuspecting daffodils, there might have been an instance or two in which i mimicked her).
Ulla is a busy bee, and tonight for dinner she grilled. It was a party at the Lesskes, as they had some neighbors over for dinner as well. All 10 of us sat around the table outside and talked (german of course).
Meghan stopped by for a visit and we now have a new obesession, the TV show Glee (I can see why Katie liked it so much now).
Location: Muenster, Germany
After a philosophy lecture auf Deutsch today, I\'m not sure if words can really express what my day was all about. After all, aren\'t words simply a symbol for something else, and when combined and interpreted in a variety of ways their meaning changes? Oh well, the main focus of the lecture was on the meaning of words vs. their symbolism of truth (or something abstract like that). Although the lecture was difficult to understand at times, there were some notable differences between class. First, the professor had a microphone that she wore around her neck, the students all centered themselves in the middle of the lecture hall, the professor jumped right into the lecture material (which meant no small talking about the weather or ash cloud spewing from iceland), and at the end, everyone tapped on the desks to show their appreciation.
Yet another reason today is notable is due to a veggie that is normally eaten green in the US-aspirigus. However, tonight at dinner I consumed it white (which was delicious).
Time to get back to work (which naturally means facebook). Who knows what tomorrow\'s adventures will bring?
Location: Muenster, Germany
Sunshine was smiling down on Meghan, Rachel, and I as we biked to schoo, but it didn\'t last long. Today was cloudy, but people\'s dispositions were positive. The part of the class after spring break has brought about a new German class, one that deals with pronounciation, the evoluation of the German language, as well as introducing some of the different dialects. This also means that we have to learn IPA format and also know how to apply it....it in itself seems like a different language.
As far as the other classes go, today the Jews in Germany class met and discussion focused on how the Holocaust should be discussed, if it can be compared to other events in history, if it looses meaning when done so, if it looses significance to people not directly influenced by it if it were not. Despite much debate and thinking, we have yet to come to any conclusions about these questions or even those about the meaning of the holocaust, if aschwitz is the symbol for evil, who is responsible (europeans, americans, the victims themselves), how it happened and what it means.
As far as Reformation goes, we are getting into Calvinism, which then ties into the reformation that took hold in the Netherlands. Class on that is tomorrow, so more about that then.
Today also included a study session at the Muenster University Library (which is always packed with students). It\'s reassuring to note that German university students also procrastinate by checking facebook.
Beyond that was a study session at Meghan\'s house, which included eating some Nutella...her host parent\'s bought a jar that is 1 kg....2.2 lbs...of Nutella....yum
Here at the Lesskes, Judith has her English Abi test tomorrow, and Ulla and Wolfgang are keeping busy with work and athletics (Wolfgang bikes, Ulla runs). Tonight\'s menu consisted of Pancakes and a potato and carrot dish, with pineapple for desert.
Location: Münster, Germany
Despite my absence on planetranger, i am still in europe, traveling around. in the past month i have been to Paris, Barcelona, Lucca, Pisa, Rome, Vadican City, Florence, Lillehammer, and Amsterdam. Next week the Münster crew will be departing for Leipzig and Dresden.
All the aformentioned traveling was a part of Meghan and my spring break adventure. So much happened that it\'s impossible to tell all my stories here, but here are a few highlihgts:
Paris-went to the Louvre and museum d\'Orsay (two of the most famous art museums). These museums are especially neat because of the variety of media used for the art displayed within (from sculpture to painting). At the Louvre there were also a few areas that included some interpretive dancers accompanied by live music. Not to mention there were also ameteur artists sketching the displayed sculptures.
Barcelona-there was a Cafe on the beach that had freshed squeezed orange juice (the machine was behind the counter and they produced it as ordered), it was delicious (to say the least).
Lucca-It still has the original city walls intact (they havent been damaged by any kind of siege or war), so in order to enter the city center one had to pass underneith them...it brought back some of the Norweigen viking in me, and i had to remind myself that its the twenty-first century and i am a tourist, not a warrier.
Pisa-went to the Duomo for Easter (a catholic mass). After the mass the bishop and another priest walked out of the Duomo and a women very animatedly asked to have a picture taken with them, they agreed and she was pleased as punch.
Florence-saw the pantheon, which has a circle cut into the ceiling. Also saw where the Medici family worshiped
Rome-got to see where cesear was stabbed 32 times. today it is a cat sanctuary.
Lillehammer-Skied the Birkenbeiner. One of my life goals has been accomplished, now to do the entire 50km race...
Then it was back to good ol Münster.
Amsterdam was an educational trip which everyone in the group went on. Went to the Van Gogh museum, Reijks museum (Dutch art), the Jewish museum, and a hidden church (which was in the attick of a merchant\'s house, there was a time in the Netherlands when the protestants took over and forbid the Catholic religion). All this and more in 30 hours...it was a packed trip but incredibly enjoyable.
Classes are also back in session, and which includes learning the international phonetic alphabet (which includes characters outside of the roman alphabet), unearthing Calvinism, and choosing a paper topic about the Jews.
Its also incredibly nice here, which means Meghan, Rachel and I have taken to a two wheeled mode of transport to class in the mornings.
Luckily my life is more than the blog posts I've left here, otherwise the last month would have been blank. In reality, however, it was full of adventure, as we ventured on our first class trip to Berlin, where we got to eat Berliner's of course (a jelly filled pastry), and some educational tours relating to our Jews in Germany class. This included a trip to the Jewish Museum, touring the Jewish Memorial, seeing Sachsenhausen concentration camp, and even meeting with a member from the committe for the jewish advice organization (centralrat).
We also made history, at least in our own lives, as we also got the chance to visit Wittenberg, the town where Luther was a professor and nailed his 95 Thesis to the church door. We actually stayed in a youth hostel attached the the palace church that contained this door, which ironically used to be the prison. If the prison was as nice as the hostel is today, spending a month or so would be a luxery.
Beyond that I've been hanging arond Muenster, spring has decided to make an appearance, so my host mom is starting to garden, and my host dad is hitting the streets with his bike. Rachel, Meghan, and I have also been exploring the area via bike, and it delightful to be outside now.
The next big adventure is spring break, which will include staying in Paris, Barcelona, Pisa, Lillehammer, and Oslo, a trip packed with sun, and hopefully a little snow (so that I can ski on the Birkie).
Location: Koeln, Germany
To greet everyone who pilgrimages to Koeln (which is said to hold a number of sacred materials, such as the bones of the Magi (which are housed in a golden case in the center of the Cathedral), a cathedral boldly stands next to the main train station, towering at least twice as tall as any building in the area. It is built was built in the Gothic style, and was started in the thirteenth century. It took 600 years to complete, due to budget problems and political turmoil. The Prussians believed it to be important, so they poured tons of money into finishing building it, with the idea that this was a building that would symbolize germany (what they didn't know was that the Gothic style was french), and would never be used for catholic mass (which is what it's current purpose is today, the Prussians were prodestant).
There are many unique aspects to the building, including many stained glass windows (some funded by King Ludwig the first (not the crazy one who robbed Germany and built incredibly expensive castles, but his predicessor. The windows also contain the bavarian symbol because that's where he was from. Since the building is so big, each of the windows has its own history. Some are left from the original Cathedral, and are essentially glass mosaics, while a new window, placed in 2007 has a more modern look), two organs (which play in duet), along with many sculptures of saints.
We were lucky, because as a group we had the opportunity to learn some of this history through a personal tour in english. The woman who gave it was short, knew her history, and had a good sense of humor (before we began she advised everyone to turn their cell phones off unless we were expecting a personal call from God).
There was also some unstructured time in the city, in which I went to the gift shop of a chocolate museum, perfume museum (where a student from the university worked who was originally from Italy), the Roman-German Museum (where a man from Myammar (Burma) explained some of the history of the museum itself (there was going to be a house built there, but when a tile mosaic was uncovered, a museum was erected around it instead). Along with that we saw a mikveh (traditional jewish bath), the Judengasse (street where Jews lived in middle ages), and the city hall.
Just one of the many wonderful aspects of the Muenster semester, includes no class on fridays. That meant that this morning Meghan and I slept until we woke up.
Yesterday she spent the night because we had a play date with a professor's host-brother's son, who goes to the university in Muenster, so we were out until about 11 with the group.
After sleeping in, Meghan and I mosied around, had some breakfast, took a quick trip to her house, then went into the city. She sat outside at Cafe Fyal, because the sun was out today, and it was nice. All the snow that accumulated around the city has vacated, and now the rain has started to set in (so it was nice to see the sun for a change).
While she was at the Cafe I strolled around the inner city of Muenster in search of possible conversation and museums. I looked around the 'Uberwasser' church, and spent some time in the bible museum (which was a room with old manuscripts, and bible's in asian languages. I had never seen a bible in chinese or korean before, and had never associated christianity with that area of the world).
Afterwards meghan and I met up again and walked around before heading over to Rachel's to watch twilight with her host sister anna (auf Deutsch).
While Rachel, Meghan, and I ditched on eating in the Mensa (cafiteria for university students), I did get the opportunity to eat dinner with the Lesskes (including Andreas who stopped in for a surprise visit), and some of Ulla's friends. The restuarant was Portugese and we ate a variety of crustations, from shrimp to calimary.
The next challenge involves planning spring break.
So as for yesterday, I got a chance to see some of the Lesske's relatives from the 1900's via photos. They recieved a number of pictures from Wolfgang's side of the family, that included a picture of his great-grandmother (from 1909). They were all in black and white with a slight browning that comes with age.
Another adventure also included a spontaneous visit to St. Servetii church. It's located in the city center, and its one of the buildings I walk by everyday, but never know what it is, so I decided to check it out.
As for today, Rachel, Meghan and I went to eat at the Mensa on Aasse, which is where a number of the university students eat. It was packed and had a number of options to choose from (including a salad bar). Today we sat by ourselves and watched everyone else, but tomorrow the plan is to step out of our comfort box and talk to someone new.
After some more wandering through the rain and city, a nap, and a bike ride to Meghan's, I went to an aerobics and Yoga class with Judith and Ulla. It was incredibly similar to kickboxing at Luther, where upbeat songs were played in the background, they were even in english and included some Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, and Lily Alens. It felt excellent to work out and it was neat to see the community that was built there, as many people greeted and chatted among one another before the work out began.
Time to get my nose to the grindstone and write a murder mystery auf Deutsch....
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Armed with a Niedersachen ticket, a jammed backpack, and two travel companions (Rachel and Meghan), we embarked to navigate the German train system to Hamburg for a weekend of reminiscing with Melly. Our trip to and from Hamburg via train was void of adventures, as we were able to locate each train and get on sucessfully at every point. The most exciting part of the journey was hustling past everyone on the platform to grab a quad seating area.
Luckily we only had to navigate getting to Hamburg, once we arrived in the city Melly met us and was our 'tourguide' and 'hostess' for the weekend. Her mom and dad had dinner waiting for us when we arrived at her house. From there, the touring began.
Friday night Melly took into the city to show us the major buildings lit up. We also took a boat through the harbor in Hamburg. It felt slighly like being on the titanic because there was still ice floating in the water. Hamburg is an enormous trade city, which is why it has grown to be over a million people. With the help of hamburg, germany is also the leading exporter (according to Melly), because it produces so many machines used in factories (so they make the machines that create goods shipped out of countries such as china). There is also a building shaped like a ship on the waterfront.
Saturday we slept in late and enjoyed Nutella (a new favorite food of mine), and meat on fresh bread. Yum! From there we went to Bergedorf, a neighboring suburb of Hamburg and walked around the famous buildings there. That included stopping by a candy and coffe shop where Melly used to work. There Meghan was able to buy some coffe to put into her newly purchased starbucks mug (that said germany).
After Bergedorf we went back into the inner city of Hamburg and walked around the city in the day. Some of the street names in the city include, willy-bandt weg (a political leader in western germany during the 80's), and a Martin Luther Weg. We also saw St. Micheal's church, and St. Nicholi church. St. Nicholi church is the second tallest building in Hamburg (the TV tower is taller), and is in ruins now as a memorial. It was also a point the allies would look for during world war 2 to know they were at Hamburg. Today there are still some walls standing, but there is no glass left in the windows and the tower is completely black (from the fire caused by the bombings). The church is also slighly like Main (the building on Luther college campus), because it also burned down twice and was rebuilt both times (perhaps it was because they kept the bells).
On Sunday Melly's partents drove us around some of the unique areas of Hamburg, such as the FHV soccer stadium, drive UNDER the Elbe river, and over a suspension bridge.
It was a great weekend and it brought back a lot of fun memories from when my family visited the Fiedlers three years ago.
The sunshine along with a plethera of new puddles (thanks to all the snow) greeted me this morning as I walked to the bus stop. Today is the last day of class for the week, which means we get a three day weekend.
In class today we learned about the Jews from the middle ages, until about the 1800s. During that time, their position in society changed, but the general mentality that they were still inferior didn't (there were also other groups of people at that time who considered to be scum). Many of them lived in ghettos and would essentially be locked in their entire lives. I don't understand very much of traditional jewish customs, but it seemed like part of life involved waiting for the Messiah to come. It will be interesting to see if this changes at all.
After class Meghan and I walked around Münster and took a peak into some of the local shops.
Upon returning to Gremmendorf, I had lunch with Meghan, Rachel, Martin (Rachel's host dad), and Marie (her host sister). We had soup that consisted of potatos, cabbage, and wurst. It was delicious! After that I went on a quest to get a cell phone, so I biked to Media Markt (and didn't get lost). From there Rachel and I went to Aldi and bought SIM cards to activate our phones, so after a little help from Judith (my host sister), there is hope that we will soon have working cell phones.
The rest of today is going to consist of dinner with the Leßkes, then heading into town to check out an art museum.