Archive for the ‘Erfurt’ Category

Walpurgisnacht & Wartburg

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Wednesday was the last day of April, and it is also a German ‘holiday.’ Walpurgisnacht always falls on April 30, no matter what day of the week it is. This year, there was a huge celebration on Domplatz ON A WEDNESDAY NIGHT!! I’m not sure all of my facts are true, but from what I understand, Walpurgisnacht is a celebration, welcoming warmer weather and spring. They have a bonfire to symbolize burning witches and getting rid of the cold winter weather. May 1st is always a bank holiday, so everything is closed, including school (no classes, woo hoo!), so the Germans can party and stay up as late as their hearts desire. The bonfire on Domplatz was so massive that it puts ANY bonfire YOU HAVE EVER HAD to shame. We were standing at least 60-100 ft away from the fire and it the heat was so intense that we had to move further away. From where I was standing, and the pictures I took, the fire looks almost as tall as the cathedral behind it!

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I know it’s really fast movement, but this video gives you an idea about how massive this celebration actually is!

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The next day, Thursday, May Day, whatever you would like to call it, I ventured out to Eisenach for a day trip with other exchange students. Eisenach is home to the Wartburg Castle. This is where Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German. Before then, there were many different dialects and variations of the German language. After Luther translated the New Testament, that became the most widespread variation of the language and modern German language stems from this variation. Not many languages can point to one location and say, “Our language started/ was born here.” For the Germans, Wartburg is that one place.

It was overcast all morning, and I was glad that I decided to bring along my rain coat, just in case. It’s about an hour train ride to Eisenach, so we left Erfurt around 11am. By the time we arrived in Eisenach around 12, and there was a 1:30 tour of the castle in English. Most of the others (including non-Americans) wanted to take the tour in English instead of German, and by the time the bus dropped us and we made the hike up to the castle, we had 5 minutes to spare! The sun came out for our hike up the mountain, and it was really nice weather when we started the tour! However, when we ended the tour, it was dark, dreary, cold, and raining. The pictures still turned out OK though! My original plan was to wander around the town of Eisenach once we were finished at the castle, but since the weather headed south, and everything was closed, I said I could come back another weekend, since it is still in Thüringen and it’s free transportation with my student ID.

When I returned to Erfurt, I was disappointed at the thought of going to class the next day, and had wished that May 1 would have fallen on a Friday… If it had, it would have been a 4 day weekend, and I would have planned a bigger trip to somewhere a little bit further away, like Berlin or Prague. I have the rest of the summer to plan one of those trips though!

Pictures from Walpurgisnacht can be found under the Erfurt page.

Pictures from the Wartburg can be found under the Photos page.

Until next time,

–N

Petersberg, Easter, Classes, and Birthdays, Oh My!

Monday, April 28th, 2014

A lot has happened over the past week, and all of the highlights will be covered!

First up, Petersberg.

Last Saturday I took a walk up to Zitadelle Petersberg, a landmark in Erfurt, with amazing views above the city. To view photos, click here. I chose a perfect day to go. Frühlingsfest was happening on Domplatz on this day, so there is a fair in some of the pictures! This would be an awesome place to have a picnic on a warm, sunny summer day. It was clear blue skies while at Petersberg, and as soon as I made it back to Donaustrasse, it started to thunder, and downpour rain. Perfect timing!

Petersberg has a lot of history related to it, but I’m not all that familiar with it, so I will not ramble on about any fun facts. Here are two different links that are about Petersberg if you would like to learn more about it.  Link 1  Link 2

Next up, Easter:

Being 4,000 miles away, and 6 hours ahead of my family, I didn’t want to spend Easter alone, especially since everywhere was closed. I wanted to invite some of the other exchange students over for dinner. I started to compile a list of people to send a Facebook message to, but after inventorying my food, I decided that I didn’t have enough to feed everyone I wanted to invite. So my list dwindled dramatically. :( It was a wonderful small gathering, with only five of us in my humble little abode. We had pasta, rice, and a few other sides. Erik brought a bottle of wine for us to share, but I did not have a bottle opener (it was a cork top). So, Valentin found a somewhat messy way to open the red wine… We won’t go into details, but let’s just say we had to wipe down part of the kitchen after it was opened. ;)

Classes started on Tuesday, since Easter Monday is a holiday here. When I signed up for classes, they were in two-hour blocks (i.e. 8-10, 10-12, 12-14,14-16, etc.). Wednesdays I have three classes in a row, so naturally, I thought I would not have time for lunch on those days. I was under the impression that I would be in class, with maybe 10 minute breaks in between, for 6 hours straight. Tuesday I arrived to my 8am class about 10 minutes early, not really knowing what to expect being in a foreign country and all. I was shocked when the instructor did not show up until 8:15. Apparently, the unspoken rule of classes is that they start at :15 and end at :45, unless your instructor says otherwise. So instead of 10 minutes between classes, like at UMW, I have 30 minutes between back-to-back classes. Classes also only meet once per week, instead of two or three times, like UMW. I could get used to this…

This past weekend was also my 20th birthday weekend. Other international students are shocked when I tell them that I’m only 20 – I have discovered that Anneka and I are some of the youngest exchange students. I had a blast celebrating with my new friends. I had a party Saturday night and everyone came over – there was about 15 or so people in one tiny room! Apparently in German culture, it’s bad luck to wish someone happy birthday before their actual day. So as soon as that clock struck midnight, everyone burst out singing to me!

On Sunday, my actual birthday, Hang, my tutor came over in the afternoon and brought a bouquet of white tulips and homemade muffins! We were planning to go into the city and go to a cafe, but it thunderstormed all morning and early afternoon. Hang thought that the cafes might be closed because of the weather, so we had cappuccino and just watched it storm instead. The thunder was so loud that it shook the windows.. It was really intense! Later, I went over to Anneka’s and had dinner with her and her flatmate, Katie. After dinner, the three of us, along with their other flatmate Lourdes, watched Die Eiskönigin. (For those that don’t know, that’s Frozen, but the German version.) Overall, I had an awesome and unforgettable 20th birthday, and I’m glad that I got to spend it with new friends from around the world.

One of my favorite photos of the campus.

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014


One of my favorite photos of the campus.

Exploration Thursday

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

On Thursday, I walked around campus and the immediate surrounding areas to get more of a feel of where I was. It was a beautiful day, in the mid 60s Fahrenheit, and the campus was beautiful.

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Die Bibliothek (The library)

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I live in the building behind the trees. The library has the construction.

The campus almost always has someone on it, especially when it’s a beautiful day like it was on Thursday. I am looking forward to when it’s really spring so that I can see even more colors on campus. 

In the evening, another exchange student from Spain, Manuel, invited me to Stammtisch. I went and tried to speak a little bit of German (although it was difficult), had my first German beer, and met three more exchange students. It was a really good experience, and I’m glad I’m meeting so many people!

Arriving in Frankfurt und der erste Tag

Friday, March 21st, 2014

I arrived in Frankfurt ahead of schedule around 11:10. The flight fed us dinner and a small breakfast, just enough for me to be on my merry way. That gave me enough time to freshen up, grab my bag, and find the Deutsch Bahn station in the airport. Now that I was in Frankfurt, I heard German everywhere! It definitely surprised me, since it’s just not something you tend to hear on the streets in Williamsburg. I also realized how much German I’m able to understand depending on the person and the subject. The weather was on the chilly side, but nothing my coat and sweater couldn’t handle. Plus, compared to the weather Virginia had been having, it was a drop in the bucket. 

I found my way around and bought a Deutsch Bahn student card (so I get discounts on travelling for my stay here) and a ticket to Erfut. I was a little nervous at the time because my tutor, Lukas, and I had talked about him meeting me at the Erfurt station, but it wasn’t clarified and I had no way of contacting him with no internet and I didn’t have his phone number yet. I decided not to think about that for a little while and find my train. 

The tracks with my suitcase and a man.

My 1:02 train on the Leipzig track.

Once I got on the train, I had a couple of hours to relax. The ICE (the train I rode) was very different from any trains I’ve ridden in the US. It was very clean and there were several people on it: some with large suitcases like me, and others with just a briefcase or small backpack. It was also very quite. Except for a few hushed business conversations here and there, no one talked at all. I didn’t mind though, for I liked just looking out the window and taking in the scenery. 

I noticed that all the towns and cities had a very distinct German look to them. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but I didn’t expect them to look just like they do in TV shows or movies. While the cities were big, there were luscious green fields right near by with people and dogs always walking through them. The cars were either the usual, nice BMW, Volkswagen, or Audi or they were the European Citroen, Peugeot, and the like. The trucks all had flat fronts, which is very different from most of the US trucks. It was comforting to see familiar companies though, like UPS or DHL. 

I eventually got to Erfurt and decided to wait for Lukas (my tutor) in the main part of the station for a little while. We walked past each other a couple of times, but eventually figured it out. I took the tram with him to the university where we checked in and I got my key. The tram fascinated me. It runs all through the streets where people walk and drive cars. In the downtown area, there are people everywhere walking just before the tram passes or even right next to it! 

Anyway, we found my room where I met one of my suite-mates. Lukas and I exchanged numbers to avoid more confusion, and we parted ways as I began unpacking. 

That evening, my suitemates showed me the closest grocery store. We fixed dinner, and I went to bed fairly early.