I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last post; since my time in Berlin and my travels home, I have not had consistent Internet access to post my new experiences. And now my time in Lüneburg is over! At risk of sounding redundant, it went by extremely fast and it feels like I just got here! But before I go on about how much I already miss Germany, let me tell you about my last week in Lüneburg.
Because this was my last week abroad, I tried my best to get out and about to see as much of Lüneburg as I could. Last Tuesday, there was a classical concert called Orgelsommer that was located at a local cathedral. Every Tuesday evening from May through August, classical music concerts are performed in the surrounding local cathedrals, and I finally was able to go this week! The concert was wonderful; it was performed on the old – but very large and magnificent – church organ and consisted of songs written by German composers. It was really fantastic, and I absolutely loved it!
Last Thursday, my friend Secilia and I took the train to Hamburg to explore more of its shops and attractions. We went shopping and had Asian for lunch, and it was really cool to see how German-Asian food compared to the US’s. It was actually really good and quite similar to what we have here in America. After lunch, I went to the Miniatur Wunderland (Miniature Wonderland) Museum, an exhibition full of scale models of scenic areas in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, America, and Japan! Secilia left Hamburg early, so finding the museum on my own was a great adventure. Once I got to the museum, a wonderful sense of achievement washed over me; not only because I found the museum, but because I’ve been looking forward to seeing Mini-Wunderland for 3 years! I never thought I would ever see it, so when I finally got there, it was really incredible. Not to mention, Mini-Wunderland is totally awesome. The detail incorporated into the scenes and the stories that that the little people were able to tell through their design was so cool, and it was awesome to see German culture expressed in such an artistic way.
During my last weekend in Lüneburg, the 32nd Annual Hansetag Festival took place, a festival designed to celebrate a renaissance-era European trading association called the Hanseatic League. The town normally occupied by 70,000 people was bombarded by over 100,000 more! The Hansetag Festival was particularly cool because it was a mix of a Renaissance Fair, a music festival, and a craft show. There were tons of people, plenty of great food, and lots of costumes and good music! It took place from Thursday through Sunday, so the entire weekend was busy and full of excitement. The festival expressed a great deal of European culture and history and it was really awesome to be able to experience that with other Germans.
Also this past weekend, a few friends and I saw a ballet in Hamburg. It was so cool! We got all dressed up and went to a nice opera house to watch a ballet based on Frédéric Chopin’s musical compositions interpreted through dance. The first half of the show was a traditional, classical ballet while the second half was more humorous. Each dance told a story, and each one was a comic and light-hearted. I personally enjoyed the second half better, but the entire ballet was a great experience and it was so cool to be able to experience more aspects German culture.
The last thing I did in Lüneburg was explore a nearby mountain called Kalkberg. Kalkberg lies directly behind the city and is a beautiful – albeit very small – limestone mountain that has lots of trails surrounding it and a beautiful view of the city. It was very peaceful and it was nice to experience some of Germany’s natural sites after spending so much time in its cities. I absolutely loved hiking and exploring the mountain and it reminded me a lot of the outdoors in Michigan. I really wish I explored more of it earlier in my trip because I would have loved spending more time there.
Now that I’m home, I’ve really come to understand more of myself and more about cultural diversity and acceptance. Studying abroad has been an absolutely invaluable experience for me and I would very much recommend to anyone who hasn’t been abroad to take advantage of the opportunity! In the working world, the opportunity to spend time abroad for an extended period of time is very rare, so this experience is not something to pass up! Taking this time abroad has opened my eyes to a lot of new and exciting things and I’m so thankful I was able to advantage of such a great opportunity.
5 LESSONS I LEARNED THIS WEEK:
1.) Don’t wait until the last minute to explore new things. There were so many incredible opportunities in Lüneburg that I didn’t discover until it was too late. If I had spent more time in the beginning seeking these out instead of just stumbling over them by chance, I would have been able to experience so many more cool and exciting things.
2.) Packing light is essential. On our way to Berlin from Lüneburg, there were a few transportation issues that we faced in reaching our final destination. Because of this, we had to lug all of our luggage across Berlin, which was not an easy feat since most of us were flying straight out of Berlin or out of another nearby city and had to bring everything that we acquired from Lüneburg with us! Sometimes you don’t realize how many things you can live without until you have to carry it all through three narrow train cars, through two different train stations, and up four flights of spiral staircases. Now that was an adventure!
3.) Take advantage of every opportunity. As you can see from Lesson #1, experiencing cool things early on is really important in taking full advantage of your opportunity abroad. But at the same time, it’s also important to not make yourself so busy that your time abroad is a blur. Part of studying abroad is experiencing what life is like for the average citizen, so it’s important to find the balance between experiencing every possible opportunity and experiencing life as a resident too.
4.) Fit as much as you can in your check-in bag. When I was heading out to the airport, I was really worried about exceeding the weight limit on my check-in bag because of all of the things I’d be bringing back with me, so I stuffed everything I could into my carry-on, which was a backpack. I thought this would be the best decision, but because of everything I was bringing home, my backpack ended up being close to the same weight as my check-in bag, and carrying that around on my back for 30+ hours of travelling was definitely not the wisest decision. After all that, I ended up having extra room in my check-in anyway!
5.) ALWAYS expect the unexpected. I found this to be the most useful lesson I learned while abroad. Things NEVER, EVER go as planned, and learning to not only to be flexible, but to expect that things won’t go as planned is the key to having an awesome time while abroad. This was a particularly difficult lesson for me to learn because I love order, structure, and predictability. I need to have a plan and stick to it. This trip taught me so much about flying at the seat of my pants and working around unexpected obstacles. Now I know that being prepared for things to go awry is not enough, but to anticipate something to go wrong makes adventures so much less stressful in the long run and makes everything way more exciting!
Thanks so much to all of you readers out there! I hope you enjoyed this blog and learned more about what it’s like to study abroad. Viel Glück mit allem!