Locksmith ’16 Arrives in Germany

Germany1Timothy Locksmith – First helpful tip about living in another country for any amount of time… It’s a hell of a lot easier if you speak the language fluently! I came to Bremen with the goal of improving my German at the Goethe Institute here, but man the way I handled my trip was a bit like learning how to swim by being thrown into the deep end of the pool.

My flight to Hamburg was scheduled and easy enough to get to since I took off from Orlando and only had a layover in New York (both airports I am relatively familiar with, and everyone there speaks English). However getting from Hamburg to Bremen (a bit over an hour trip by train), wasn’t quite so easy. I was up for a bit of a challenge so I didn’t buy my tram/train tickets ahead of time, and told myself I was going to only speak English if I really got into trouble.  Long story short, Germans speak very quickly so any of the directions I was given meant absolutely nothing to me. So I asked for a “Stadtplan” (map) and figured it out by myself after a while, since I was a bit too embarrassed to ask them to repeat themselves for a fourth time. Eventually I arrived safely in Bremen, and after I was finally settled into my room and had taken my placement tests, I realized that I hadn’t slept for the past 28 hours (34 if you count the time change) and took a quick 14 hour nap.

So on my first real day in Bremen, I walked around the school a bit on my own and then had a proper tour just before starting my first lesson. The campus is much larger than Wabash’s, and has many gorgeous spots hidden around with great views where one could sit out and study, or just relax and enjoy the weather (unless it’s raining… which it does here frequently). The lessons are going fine, all in all not too difficult with the exception of the listening comprehension. I’m not too worried though because I’ve already noticed some improvement, and I believe that will only get better with time. My instructor’s English isn’t great and very little is spoken in English, save a few word here and there for clarification. Luckily I’m here to learn German, which she is (obviously) fluent in.

Germany3So far my best experience has been “exploring” the older part of the city. I use quotations here because most people would probably say that I was lost. To elaborate I had gotten rough directions from my roommate to the Tram Büro so that I could get a ticket to ride the trams for the rest of the month free. Seemed simple enough, so I headed on my way and wouldn’t realize that I had left my map behind until I was in the middle of the old part of the city without a clue where the Büro might be. Since I had a few hours before my lesson started that day, I figured I might as well have a look around and ended up touring a large portion of the city by myself, while occasionally asking a passerby in broken German about certain areas. I’m not sure why, but being lost in an entirely foreign city while a bit frightening, was extremely exciting, and it was so satisfying when I was able to ask someone for directions, and then manage to understand said directions well enough to get me back to the university.

I am thoroughly enjoying my time here in Bremen, and it has already become clear to me that one month isn’t very long, as this past week and a half has flown by. But I plan on doing a bit of traveling this weekend to fully take advantage of my time abroad, and will hopefully have plenty more stories to share with you in the near future.

Miller ’16 Finishes in Germany

Kurt Miller ’16 – From Turkey to Finishing up in Freiburg

Oh my how this summer has flown by! Last week, our program visited Izmir and Istanbul, Turkey. For nine days, we explored ancient cities, new cities, and learned about Turkey’s accession process towards the European Union. Surprisingly, it was actually colder in Turkey than it is in Germany!

The first stop in Turkey was the university city of Izmir. Myself and my classmates attended the Izmir University of Economics and stayed in their dorms. Our professor’s father-in-law owns a beach house and invited all 23 members of our program to come out and spend the 4th of July on the beach. Unsure how Turkish people would react to Americans celebrating our independence day in their country, I was shocked when our presence was greeted with applause and shouts of “U.S.A!” It was heartwarming to feel welcomed and at the end of the perfect day, the father-in-law had a special surprise for us – fireworks.

After leaving Izmir, we first stopped at the ancient city of Ephesus before we made it to Istanbul. The ancient city, originally built in pre-Alexander times, was remarkably well preserved. I was stunned to see how the ancient Greek writing had survived Roman, Ottoman, and now Turkish occupation.

When we arrived in Istanbul, my first impression was shock. The city was HUGE. I had never been to a city this large, but at approximately 17 million people, this is one of the largest in the world. Between workshops on Kurdish and Armenian issues, strolls through the Grand Bazaar, and tours of both the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia, my experience in Istanbul was eye opening. I witnessed Muslims fasting for Ramadan, the integration of Christian and Muslim cultures, and the recent problems brought about by such a large influx in Syrian refugees. My favorite experience in Istanbul, however, was visiting the Byzantine Cisterns. These ancient well-like structures were buried deep underground and held up with massive columns. During times of siege, this underground oasis kept water flowing to the city.

Today, I am well rested and back at the IES Center in Freiburg, Germany. Over the summer, this city has become my home. Unfortunately, this program and my summer will soon come to an end. This has been the most progressive summer for my personal development in my entire life. Being abroad has taught me many new lessons, and very importantly, made me ever so thankful to be born in the United States and attend the great institution of Wabash College. I want to thank the Rudolph Family Scholarship Fund for the generous assistance this summer. They allowed me to explore and understand our modern world from a whole new perspective, and for that I am eternally thankful.

I am afraid that many students go abroad and succumb to their fears of being alone in a foreign place. With the preparation I received at Wabash College, I feel more prepared than many of my peers to face the challenges of studying abroad. Learning abroad with other non-Wabash students has made me more proud than ever to be a Wabash Man.

The German Department, specifically Professors Redding, Tucker, and Miles, have all taught me exceptionally well. With their guidance, I have been more than able to get by in Germany speaking their language.

Wabash Always Fights!