My second full week here in Lüneburg is sadly coming to an end. My time
here is going by so fast! In some ways it seems like I just got here, but in other ways it feels like I’ve been here forever – but not in a bad sense. I’m finally getting used to the way things roll around here, and I’m starting to feel more like a resident rather than a visitor.
Other than last weekend, my week has been somewhat uneventful – filled with classes, exams, and homework. Last Friday, a group of my fellow USAC students and I went on a day-trip to Hannover, the capital of Lower Saxony (the state Lüneburg is in). This was my first trip to a town outside of Lüneburg! It’s about an hour and half train ride from where we live, which goes by fast when you’re with a chatty group of friends. Hannover turned out to be a lot different than I expected. As the train pulled into the station, the Hannover Altstadt (remember, “the old city,” consisting of traditional German architecture) lined the horizon, and because Lüneburg, which only consists of an Altstadt, had been the only city I’d seen in Germany, I was expecting an old, traditional German city splattered with historical and political themes. What I got instead was a modern, bubbly, industrialized city filled with street vendors, shoppers, and tourists! I was definitely surprised, but in no way disappointed.
The first thing we did in Hannover was get something to eat. It was cold, rainy, and windy, so we wanted to go somewhere inside, but we didn’t want to go to a sit down restaurant because in Germany, that would take hours! We found this quaint little restaurant that was similar to what I’d imagine a German fast food restaurant would be like, but there were no doors or walls on the front of the building separating it from the outside. It was like a cave, but it served food! So it fit our needs perfectly. After lunch, we went off exploring! Hannover is really cool because it has a red line running along the sidewalk that leads you to all the tourist attractions in the city, like statues, memorials, parks, old cathedrals, and the like. I’d never seen anything like that before, and it was really nice not having to scramble to try to find the places we wanted to see! My favorite part of our trip, by far, was the Rathaus (town hall). It was absolutely gorgeous! Everything about it was beautiful. It’s very old, and has become more of a tourist attraction rather than used for a governmental purpose. The visit to the Rathaus alone made the entire trip worthwhile.
On Saturday, as our last part of USAC Orientation, we went on a day-trip toHamburg! Hamburg is only a half hour train ride from here, so a lot of students had already gone to visit and explore prior to our trip that day. Hamburg was absolutely amazing. It’s a really big city that consists of both modern and longstanding buildings. History is a big theme in Hamburg, as the city has gone through a lot of disasters to become the wonder it is today. We went to Hamburg’s history museum, where we learned all about not only Germany’s history, but a lot about Hamburg’s too. It was quite astounding! It was really enjoyable. Hamburg is also on a river, so we had to take a ferry to get to another part of the city to do more sightseeing. There, we visited the ruins of the famous St. Nicholas Church that was destroyed in the Operation Gomorrah air raids of 1943. This was my favorite sight we that visited in Hamburg. It holds so much history and so much sorrow that it’s impossible not to love it. It was like seeing everything that I’ve learned about WWII come to life, to actually see and experience the repercussions of what happened. There’s a lift in the church that takes you to the top of its tower that has a beautiful view of the city. Unfortunately, the tower was under construction at the time of our visit and the view was tainted with tarps and scaffolding, but luckily I got some great pictures that don’t show the construction. After we visited the church, we continued to explore the city and learned a lot more about German culture and the German norms. I loved Hamburg and I’m hoping to visit there again soon to do some more exploring!
This weekend I’m hoping to go to a foreign film festival and want to visit Lübeck, a city just outside of Lüneburg, to explore some more of Germay! I will be sure to inform you of all of my adventures in next week’s blog. But before I conclude, let me enlighten you on what I’ve learned this week.
5 LESSONS I LEANRED THIS WEEK:
1.) No matter where you go or whatever the weather, always bring an umbrella. The weather here in Germany is very unpredictable, and even if it looks sunny out, or it’s just sprinkling a little bit, it will more than likely start pouring later on in the day.
2.) Be sure to buy groceries in small, frequent trips rather than in one large trip. Food here in Germany is a lot fresher than in the US and contains fewer preservatives, so your food doesn’t keep as long. Having to eat an entire pack of lunch meat in three days and throwing away a full carton of moldy strawberries isn’t something you should do!
3.) Beware of German candy! The candy here is so good – especially the chocolate – and if you’re not careful, you’re going to end up eating it every day and spending a fortune! And the candy here comes in huge bars, so eating it every day really is not good, no matter how delicious it may be!
4.) Always keep your apartment clean. Today, two USAC representatives came by to check out my apartment and take pictures of it for USAC Italy. I had no idea they were coming and was really happy that I picked up my apartment earlier that day! You never know who may drop by, so it’s good to be prepared!
5.) Don’t be afraid to look stupid. It’s really important not to think too much of yourself when you study in a foreign country. Even if you think you know the language pretty well, you’re going to be humbled greatly the very first time you encounter a native speaker, or you’re going to do something that’s normally tolerated in America but thought of as completely foolish in a different country. And this doesn’t go away! There’s always going to be something you don’t know, but the key is to do your best and to not get discouraged. Just keep trying. And keep going!
Until next week!