Sunday, March 24, 2013

It's already been a month in Germany!

Oh boy, I can't believe it has already been almost a month since I left Colorado and arrived in Germany for my study abroad experience. The first weeks of my journey have really just flown by! In the future, I hope that these postings will become more regular as I will have more time on my hands, but here is an update on my trip so far...

To begin, a friend who is also studying abroad this semester and I were able to spend a few days around the Frankfurt area with my exchange student from a few years ago. It was a wonderful time and it was great that we were able to just relax for a few days and get over our jet lag before heading off to school! While we were there we walked around town and visited the town castle as well as my exchange student's school. It was an exciting time for my exchange student as she was preparing to take her Abitur, the final set of tests for students about to leave the high school, and the school grounds were covered with 'good luck' signs--something very interesting to see!

Katie and I visiting the Castle in Bad Homburg 

After we became more acclimated to Germany, the language and the new time zone that is, we began our trip to Karlsruhe. Karlsruhe is in the state of Baden-Wuerttemburg and has about 300,000 people in it. The school that I will be attending here is mostly a teaching college, but also has many classes taught both in German and English on many different subjects. Students from 43 different countries study at this school! In our intensive German class most people are from the USA; however, there are also two girls from Poland who are so much fun and only being able to communicate with them in German is an added plus for my language practice! It is so interesting to meet new people from all over the world here in Germany! The first few weeks in Germany consisted of an intensive German class as well as getting a bunch of things done, such as opening a bank account, registering our German address and applying for German healthcare. Needless to say, it was a VERY busy first few weeks, but after a bit everything came together and now I am sincerely enjoying my time. Also during the first few weeks I was in Karlsruhe, I was able to go on many day trips to the surrounding area. The class spent one afternoon walking around the beautiful Schlosspark and taking in the Karlsruhe Schloss. We also had the opportunity to visit Ludwigsburg with our German class and tour the castle there. This castle is extremely interesting because most of everything in it is actually original and dates back as far as the 1700's as it did not experience too much damage during the war. We also went to Durlach, a neighboring town, and went for a short hike to the top of the city were a tower is. The view from the tower was just breathtaking!

Walking around the Schlosspark in Karlsruhe!

Castle at Ludwigsburg

Tower at Durlach 

What a beautiful view!

After a few weeks in Germany, myself and two other girls from UNC decided to go to Ireland for St. Patrick's Day weekend...I mean, when in Europe, where else should one go?! I left a day early and spent the day in Dublin checking out a Leprechaun museum and rowing races held by the two rival colleges. Then came St. Patrick's Day and we got on our green! We had a great time and not only did we experience a true Irish St. Paddy's Day celebration, but also we visited the Cliffs of Moher on a beautiful sunny day! The view was once again amazing and we were able to stop along the tour at many other interesting places including Limerick, the River Shannon and an Abby before heading back to Dublin. On our last day in Ireland, I saw once again St. Patrick's Cathedral and then visited the Kilmainham Gaol and the Chester Betty Library. Both were extremely interesting and worth the "short" 3.5 mile walk. After the weekend in Ireland and the extremely long and tiring trip back to Germany, I was ready for a relaxing week; however, that is not exactly what happened...

St. Patrick's Day celebration!

Beautiful view from the Cliffs of Moher

After getting back and talking our class test on Wednesday, the week concluded with the celebration of one of the polish girl's birthday and then a trip to the Schwarzwald (The Black Forest) for a short hike and tour of an open air museum of old German houses dating back to the 1500's. The museum is called Vogtsbaurernhoefe and interestingly enough Vogt is my Grandma's family name. I did some research and apparently Vogt is the old German word for the 'district governor' of a territory. These houses were taken from all different parts of the state of Baden-Wuerttemburg and reassembled here for the public to view. We also were able to try some Black Forest Cherry the Black Forest. It was amazing! The museum was very interesting and the hike was, besides the cold weather, very enjoyable! I hope to return to the Black Forest in the summertime for a longer hike.

My adventures won't stop there either as heading into this week we are planning a trip to Nuremberg to tour the city and attend a Germany National Soccer game. Then the week will end with Easter back with my exchange student and her family. I am busy, busy, busy, but also I am enjoying my time here and taking every new day with excitement and joy. I can't believe it has already been nearly a month since I left home and though I miss my family, my boyfriend and my friends I still cannot wait to experience more new things and travel to as many new places as my feet will let me.