For the first two weeks of my winter break, I was graced with the presence of my amazing mother. We went on a whirlwind of adventures around Europe, beginning with a few days in my hometown, Tübingen, where we attended several Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas Markets) in neighboring towns and visited an impressive castle, Schloss Hohenzollern, in nearby Hechingen.
On November 18th, the other CSU IP students and I boarded a train and traveled roughly 700 kilometers through Germany to Berlin. This was our last excursion put on by the program, and it was particularly special because it included all of the direct enrollment students that are studying at other Universities around Baden-Württemberg. During our five-day trip, we learned and experienced so many things that attempting to summarize it has been an intimidating task (proven by the lateness of this post). Therefore, I have separate the days and attempted to create some sort of flow for this megapost. I have also included some historical information, so that it is easier to understand some of the other things that I write about. Enjoy!
In mid-October, I had the great fortune of embarking on my second out-of-country journey with a wonderful group of ladies. We spent the weekend in a town called Bad Zurzach, which is just south of the German border, and went on a few excursions to some of the major cities in Switzerland, including Zurich, Lucerne, and Bern.
I have been getting a lot of questions about where I am and what’s going on, so I decided to write a brief summary of what I’ve been doing, what I will be doing, what the CSU IP program really is, and how it works here in Germany. I have also included some photos at the end to make it more interesting.
The day that I returned from Istanbul was the same day that my dad and brother flew in to visit from California. I was lucky enough to have them for a whole week, and we managed to get up to all sorts of shenanigans during that time. I showed them around Tübingen on their first full day, which was really fun, and the next day we took a day trip to Stuttgart. We spent three full days in Munich, Bavaria, where we took a bike tour of the city, went on a day trip to some of Mad King Ludwig II’s castles, and, of course, spent a day at the Oktoberfest.
First and foremost, I must begin with the disclosure that my experience is a bit different from most, in that when Jackie, Yesenia, and I planned this trip, we failed to realize that one of the biggest Muslim holidays of the year was set to coincide with the dates that we had selected. For us, this meant that the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market were closed, and many Turkish citizens were on holiday, visiting their families as well as the numerous mosques, palaces, and monuments around Istanbul.
Our time in Horb-am-Neckar came to a memorable close with a written final exam, followed by a party that included our instructors and our host families. Each class prepared a few skits or songs, and a few students performed songs ad hoc, inspired by the cheers and laughter that followed each close of the curtain. Our class, Zimmer 9, performed two skits, videos of which can be found in my previous post titled “The End/Beginning.” The party was held in the very same room in which we had, just six weeks prior, sat in anxious anticipation of meeting the families with whom we would live for the next month and a half. This time, however, the room was buzzing with excitement over our successful completion of our language program.