Monday, April 15, 2013

My, Oh My! Where Has the Time Gone?!

Once again I cannot believe how fast my trip abroad it going! It's amazing that it has been yet another three weeks since my last update, but what can I say--I am still busy, busy, BUSY!
Last time I left off right before a three day trip to Nuremberg and Easter Weekend with Carolin. Both were amazing experiences! Let's get started!

Toward the end of March, the German National Soccer Team had a World Cup qualifying match against Kazakhstan in Nuremberg, Germany and naturally, we, a few other of the exchange students and I, decided this would make for a great chance to see the city and catch a soccer game as well! Though we had to leave at an unwelcome hour in the morning, the trip went smoothly and we made it to Nuremberg. Slightly on the negative side was the weather. It was freezing cold and had just snowed, as well as continued to snow during our stay; however, this did prove to make beautiful pictures and we managed to drink enough coffee and tea to survive! The first day of our trip was filled with museums and landmarks of the city including the Nuremberg Castle, the Frauenkirche, The Way of Human Rights, which is a tribute to peace and human rights, and the City Theater, where we saw part of an opera! It was a packed, yet fun-filled day! The next morning also called for an early rise, but once again, it was worth it! We spent the second day of our trip touring the Deutsche Bahn Transportation Museum,  a toy museum, the city itself and finally visiting the Nazi Documentation Center. My favorite experience of the trip was the documentation center. It is located on former Nazi Party rally grounds and holds so much history. We spent about three hours in the museum  which is filled with information, movies, slides and photos from this dark time in Germany's past. It was absolutely remarkable the way the museum brought all of this history together and to life. After this, we made our way to the soccer stadium and prepared for the game. Now, when I say we prepared ourselves for the game, I mean that we tracked down scarves, hats and blankets at the stadium, naturally with Germany's colors on them, and hunkered down for a chilly night. Even though the weather was terrible and our faces were frozen, we still enjoyed the game and what's more, Germany won! On the final day of our trip, we bid farewell to the city of Nuremberg and journeyed by train across lower Germany back to our city of Karlsruhe and nicer weather for that matter! Though Nuremberg was once the city that embodied the Nazi party, I feel as though today it is looking past that time and instead now stands for a time in history that, though it will never be forgotten, must be carefully learned from and discussed. The city is full of history, both good and bad, but remarkable nonetheless.

Nuremberg Imperial Castle in the snow
Way of Human Rights
Nazi Documentation Center
We are all ready for the soccer game!

After a much needed few days break, I was off again by train, but this time just up to the Frankfurt area to visit Carolin and her family for Easter weekend. It was quite the experience! It was great to be able to not only see how Easter is celebrated here, which included many, many amazing foods and a ton of them, but also to be with the closest thing I have to family here on that day! My mom also sent us Easter baskets which included lots of yummy treats and a rice crispy bunny making kit, so Carolin and I became expert bunny makers! I am so thankful that I was invited to share that time with them and meet so many new people. The weather in the Frankfurt area started out a bit poor that weekend, but quickly shaped up and ended with a nice walk with the family dog on a sunny afternoon! But, just as soon as the weekend began, it ended and I headed back to Karlsruhe to begin my first week of classes for the semester!

Easter Table

My German sister, Carolin, and I

Rice Crispy Bunnies!
I have planned my class schedule this semester to only have classes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, therefore leaving time for lots of traveling on the weekends! With this, these three days are pretty busy for me. I am taking two classes in English, The Revolutionary Period and British Heritage, in order to finish my English degree back at UNC. As for the rest of the classes, they are all in German. I must admit, this was and still is a bit intimidating for me, but I am confident that I will manage and become a better speaker because of it. The topics of the classes are interesting as well and include short stories, adventure stories, Goethe and then of course learning German as a foreign language. I have high hopes for myself this semester and hope that at the end of it I can say I am a much better German student; however, I know this will not come without much determination and dedication, but this is something I fully plan on giving.

Finally, to top off the first week of classes, myself and a few other students traveled to the city of Stuttgart with the scholarship organization. As a part of the scholarship that I was awarded for my time studying in Karlsruhe, I am also offered the opportunity to go on a number of free excursions around the state of Baden-Wuerttemburg. This first excursion was to Stuttgart. There we visited the Mercedes-Benz and Daimler Auto Museum as well as toured the smaller town of Esslingen am Necker near Stuttgart. The museum was full of interesting information as well as spiffy vehicles from all eras. I learned that the name Mercedes came from a request of a wealthy gentleman to Mr. Benz to build a car completely new and better than any other for the gentleman to race about the German country side with. If the car proved to be better then all others, the gentleman requested that Mr. Benz name it after the gentleman's daughter, Mercedes. Clearly, the car proved its worth! Also, in the city of Esslingen am Necker, we enjoyed free lunch at a small, authentic German cafe, great weather and a tour around the old parts of the city. The interesting thing about this city is that it did not suffer much damage during WWII and so, many of the buildings are authentic and date back to the 12th and 13th centuries--quite a site to see! We ended our day back in Stuttgart and enjoyed a beer on the lawns of the castle gardens in the sunshine.

Spy-style car!

I am quite the driver!

Beautiful view from top of Esslingen am Necker Castle

One of many buildings that date back to the 12th and 13th centuries 

Clearly Germany has proved to be quite the experience so far and I do not expect anything less in the coming months I will spend here. I am always finding new places to go and discovering new things about not only this country, but also about myself.  I am looking forward to the rest of my time here and, what's more, I will get to share it with my Mom for a few weeks next month as she just surprised me with the news that she will be visiting me for my spring break! I am so excited and I am thankful for this experience everyday. I am determined to make the most of it while I can.