On July 27th, I landed for the first time in Germany. One week in Berlin and four weeks in Heidelberg flew by, and on the evening of August 30th, I was back home. It has been an incredible adventure, and one I was fortunate to share with plenty of great people from around the world.
This blog has been tremendously helpful in keeping track of all the things I did over these 5 weeks, and I hope it can be a good reference in the future for others who participated in it all. After this final journal entry, my remaining work is to sort through 60 GB of video, in order to produce a short film about the trip. Now that classes have resumed, finding time for this may be a challenge…
Let us proceed with this final week’s installment.
On Sunday, the very last excursion offered by the University took place. It was a trip to the Schwarzwald (Black Forest), and you can read up on my experience there.
The main feature of every Monday this trip was the Ballroom Dancing workshop. This week we had our final class, which reinforced last week’s new dance (Weiner Waltz), and introduced one more: the Tango.
Sadly, my coordination was suffering and I was not able to truly get the feel of it. More practice is called for!
As usual, after the regular class there was 1 hour of rehearsal for the final performance. We continued to improve our stage entrance and exit routines, and also learned the dance moves for the finale.
With an exam rapidly approaching, Tuesday afternoon was spent reviewing and studying what we covered throughout the Ferienkurs. Although the first two tests went relatively well, we had no idea what to expect on the final.
And just like that, the final exam was there. Our class had 1 hour to complete it, and many of us left it feeling really uncertain about how well we did. Regardless, no one in our class failed, and we all received our certificate of success!
Right after the exam, I had to rush to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station), in order to catch a bus with several other Memorial Students. We were going to visit our previous German exchange professor, Marc, in Frankfurt! The bus we took there was amazing. It had WiFi with movies and Internet access, comfortable seats, power outlets, and it only cost 5 Euros.
Frankfurt was the biggest city we’d seen since Berlin, with plenty of tall buildings and cranes. We visited a few touristy places, including the statue of Goethe, and the Opera house.
While we were there, we climbed the tower of the Imperial Cathedral, and enjoyed a great view of the city.
For a few moments we were able to rest on the public bean bags, though the jack hammers in the background didn’t help us relax.
After plenty of walking and sightseeing, we sat alongside the river and enjoyed some refreshments.
After a relaxed final class, excitement was building for the Abschlussfest, our “graduation” ceremony. It was a big party hosted at the University, complete with performances by the students, either with their classes or the various workshops. After these performances, the dance floor inside opened up with a live band.
It was at this ceremony that the Ballroom Dancing performance was finally unveiled. Before the rehearsal, we posed for a group shot while all dressed up.
Although the last minute rehearsal gave our instructor terror instead of comfort, we all put on a great show that left her completely ecstatic.
The above still was snagged from video footage that will eventually be released – bear with me!
On our final full day in Heidelberg, our class got together for breakfast at a French café. Excessive numbers of photographs were taken here, and some even had me in them!
Afterwards, many of us went home to begin packing and cleaning up our apartments.
Later that evening, much of our class also met up for Sushi. I had hot saké for the first time, and rather enjoyed it!
As the evening closed on us, we bid our final farewells. For good measure, here is a shot with my class’ instructor for these 4 weeks, Thorsten.
Bright and early, the trek home began. After countless security checkpoints and long hours in flight, I made it home. The adventure was over.
This was my first time outside of North America, and it was an experience like no other. 5 weeks still isn’t long enough to truly experience a culture, especially when so much the experience is schedule and organized. Much of a culture is defined by the regular, organic interactions one has with service providers, neighbours, cashiers, clients, the government, and so forth. I believe the best way to experience culture is to be completely immersed and dependent on it. That is the type of adventure I hope to go on next time.
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