As someone who functions much better with a routine, it was a huge relief to begin classes last week. I am very excited about all of my classes; to take courses like EU Politics and Nazi Germany here is already incredible. However, I’m most looking forward to the refugee crisis class. This class gives students the opportunity to travel to the refugee camp based here in Heidelberg. Combining contact time in class with volunteering at the camp, we have amazing opportunities to learn about and interact with this crisis. We met in the classroom last week, but today we traveled to the camp for a tour. My attempts to describe what it was like to tour today are insufficient. So, I will spare you my ramblings in the hopes that my reflections later will be better.
One great aspect of the European Study program is their intentionality to equally weight study and abroad. Students are able to carry a full time class load and travel solo as well as through planned excursions. We have class Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday with planned day excursions each Wednesday. On Wednesday last week, we hiked the hill behind the ESC – Heidelberganlage. Stopping along the way for some beautiful photo ops, we made our way to the top of the hill where we saw ruins of a monastery and a Nazi-era amphitheater. Only having class three days a week makes for fairly long days when we do have class. But, without any jobs or extracurriculars to manage, there is plenty of time to finish class work AND travel. Last weekend we had time to do some regional travel.
On Friday, five of us were able to go to the Stuttgart Wine Festival! We successfully navigated our train to get there, and arrived shortly after noon. We wandered Stuttgart until we found all the tents set up for the festival. Despite the occasional rain shower, we had a great time exploring and enjoying all the traditional German food and drink there was to offer. In the pursuit of postcards, we found a cute bookshop, and I grieved for at least the twentieth time that I couldn’t read any of the books in the bookshop. Important note: Bookshops are my favorite.
We found the ENGLISH BOOKS. I, of course, purchased two.
On Saturday, Hannah and I began our attempt to find every cute coffee shop in Heidelberg. After some delicious coffee and travel planning for the next day, we found ourselves at a mini-fair and enjoyed some fries before heading to the fireworks. Heidelberg has fireworks three times a year in June, July, and September to commemorate the three times that the French burned the Heidelberg castle. For the fireworks, we happened to stand next to an English-speaking family; for the first time in weeks we could understand the conversation going on next to us. Each time a circular firework appeared the children would scream, “A POTATO!” We giggled all the way back to the house.
On Sunday, we went to one of the most important towns in the history of the Reformation: Worms. This is the town where Luther at the Diet of Worms refused to recant his writings. Worms is fascinating because it is SO important to history, but Luther himself only spent ten days here. The few buildings which were connected to his stay have all been destroyed in the centuries since, but the town is still beautiful. Worms has done a great job of putting markers up with various languages to guide Reformation sojourners. We found the garden which now stands where the Diet of Worms took place, and stood in front of the largest Reformation monument in the world.
We are starting to settle into a rhythm of coffee, travel, and class. I can’t wait to see what next week will have in store, you can be sure I’ll tell you all about it.
Auf Wiedersehen! – Moriah