Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Over one week Galina received the Göttingen crash course visit. Tours through the city, checking out a little Bücherladen and Teestube - bookstore and tea shoppe here and there , meeting friends at ornate student pubs then venturing off to make dinners together or attend other parties filled with over a dozen different languages – turning one way speaking German, then Galina meeting someone to chat a bit in French, I would meet a friend and throw around a bit Japanese to catch up, Italian, Spanish and Polish in the background amongst other languages, and [beside Galina and myself as native speakers] English [and German when the Erasmus students aren’t lazy] is the natural lingua franca.
We went out late, woke up early [I still don’t know if I was torturing poor Galina possibly suffering from Jetlag and only politely allowing me to drag her around town]. We would separate when I had a class or exam, but came back together in very Göttinger-style meeting at “der Nabel” a statue that is nicknamed “the bellybutton” distinctly for its central placement perfect for meeting up.
We cooked for Inge and Andreas [ or attempted to ] and some nights had nice long conversations over a glass [or two…] of wine. I had a good feeling that Inge and Galina would find some good common ground, since Inge also speaks fluent French and taught it for many years.
[ No argument this isn't a scene of beauty. With some family guests over on Sunday, we had a wonderful German brunch. ]
Galina really disciplined herself and stuck to German for the week, but when something became lost in translation, Galina and Inge could fascinatingly also break into French to clarify things, making English usage minimized. Andreas did comment on Galina’s accent when she did speak English, the rapidity of our Great Lakes-speak, and our well nurtured Rrrrr’s – which I never thought about being a possibility to be interesting to my host parents, but then again, even if I do have to use English, I will admit that I don’t speak to them very fast or complex. That brings up the other observation I made, about Galina’s accented German, definitely with a few Americanized notes, and it made me wonder if I sound the same in my struggle to be understood [ I have yet to hear myself recorded in German… I don’t know if I want to either.]
Throughout the week, having Galina around to remind me about the major differences from home that I have since rendered as normal, we discussed the format of the town, being able to walk virtually everywhere, what compared to our University town back home, Ann Arbor, but also what can be found around Europe, and in this case Göttingen, that we could only imagine back home.
The visit, which from my opinion was a very well rounded perspective on the life of an average student in Göttingen, was completed for Galina by taking a small weekend trip within Niedersachsen to do a day trip sightseeing. We revisited Hanover, the capital of the Bundesland of Niedersachsen, which is complete with some very beautiful architecture, especially the Rathaus, which has to be one of my favorite so far in my travels of Germany.
[ you won't find this view in any other time of the year unless you are on a boat. Alessio said we made him risk his life...]
Once again, the trip to Hanover was frigid, and I was bundled – busting at the seams of my Jacket – with pullovers and wool sweaters. So cold, in fact, that we actually experienced a very new perspective of the lake behind the rathaus – why go over the bridge, when we can pose for pictures under it, or for that matter, just walk there across the lake.
We warmed up in an Irish pub and, noting Galina’s freedom to now order an Irish coffee without restraint, capitalized on the opportunity to enjoy something that warms the body and soul when the appropriate time comes to unthaw.
As I initially mentioned, checking out Galina’s photos rekindled some of the feelings that I first had coming to Göttingen. The city is not that big, but I still got lost, and now Galina knows that there is a difference between das neues Rathaus and das altes Rathaus – a pretty important one in fact when finding the way back home.
[ posing for the "I was in Germany" photo - Apfelshorle with the background of the Oldest building in Göttingen ]
It was exciting to see Galina squeal [she tends to do that from time to time] with glee seeing some Apfelschorle at the store or some Rittersport with hazelnuts that brought back some great nostalgia from her first tour through Germany a few summers ago with a traveling international orchestra. The photos that Galina took captured some of the very scenes that I first captured in Göttingen or Hanover during my visits there [ some seem to be almost identical places from some of my Weihnachtsmarkt frames] emphasizing the fact that some corners you turn in Germany are so photogenic that you stop, stare a moment, take it in and then take a photo to save that feeling.
[ Enjoying the atmosphere and the pastries at one of the fanciest cafes in Göttingen for the famed German Kaffee und Kuchen. Delicious and almost too pretty to eat, but now I have Paris to look forward to. Galina better start researching - another outing for some fancy Pâtisserie is in order! ]
It was very nice to introduce Galina to "my city" and also welcome her to get to know my host family. I hope that Göttingen was a good addition to Galina’s travels through Germany and the rest of Europe, and I wish her well on her exciting travels to Paris. She made two stops before moving in – one to Kassel, and then near Saarbrücken – and now she is exploring the city of lights. With updates on facebook like this I have no worries about her feeling uninspired by her new foreign home: