Wednesday, July 28, 2010

die deutsche Einigung

[ The German Unification ]

One of the most exciting aspect of living and traveling through Germany is witnessing and experiencing the great variety of different cultures [and accents!] that exist within the country. The changes can be subtle from village to village, or drastic, like leaving the orderly area of Hochdeutsch in the north, to the loud and robust Bayrisch [Bavarian] Bundesland in the south - which to some might as well be considered its own nation.

It goes largely unrealized how many different smaller groups and peoples eventually came together to make up present day Germany. As I learned on a trip with my PPP area representative, Klaus, the unification collaborated actual kingdoms - and once again, history just as I had hastily studied in high school was standing before me.

Appropriately erected in Thüringen, the center of Germany, a statue of Emperor Wilhelm I memorializes the great unification of the land at Kyffhäuser. It commemorates the end of the Holy Roman Empire of Germany and the transition to the Prussian dominated German Empire starting in 1871. Four Königreiche [kingdoms] formed a new German Empire, including Prussia, Bavaria, Sachsen and Würtenburg - including a long list of Grand Duchies, Duchies and Principalities to further prove the area-centric nature of European cultures.

[ The center of Germany - a humbling look over the horizon of so many groups unified under its unique and complex history. ]

Throughout this year I have witnessed an abundance of history. I have seen history from the second world war in Bonn and Berlin, as well as the history of German prose and language in Weimar. My trip to the Kyffhäuserdenkmal was a reminder to me that Germany may be young in national terms - 1871 marks just under 150 years - however the smaller groups that consisted of some of the strongest kingdoms and societies in European history have fought against each other, and joined together over centuries creating a unified Germany with yet so many unique and diverse cultures and communities within it.

Die Kirchen von Göttingen

[ The Churches of Göttingen ]

When Galina came to visit I became more aware of different details of Göttingen as I tried to give a credible tour of the city. Since then, the city became home again, and beautiful landmarks around me became part of "my home" and I never really viewed them again as wonderful, historical cornerstones of the city, but more normalized scenery of the streets that I would cross multiple times a day.

[ St. Jacobi Kirche - unfortunately under construction this year, but the tallest church on the Göttingen skyline ]

Göttingen is almost completely in central Germany. Located in the southern part of the Bundesland Nidersachsen [Lower Saxony] it was a crossroads for many through the country. The city became a meeting point of high education leading to its reknowned university which boasts many Noble Prized thinkers and academics. Once outside of the city, it seems as though only kilometers of rolling hills and wheat fields abound. [ waiting to become beer probably ]

Göttingen itself still has a visible wall that used to protect the city. The enclosure was a guarded community that centralized around harnessing education. Along these streets that are considered some of the best preserved old town streets in Germany, four churches still mark the city's skyline. Three are protestant churches, and one is Catholic, alluding to the unique placement of the city and the history of the country itself. From a distance these churches can be seen from kilometers away, and from the center of the city, right next to the Ganseliesel stature is a small plaque in the ground, where the viewer can see all four churches at one point - after all, the heart of Göttingen is less than a square kilometer [ only just larger than a square half mile! ].

[ Vier Kirchen Blick - The four church view: St. Michael, St. Johannis, St. Albani, St. Jacobi ]

die letzten zwei Wochen.

[ The last two weeks ]

"Feeling a premonitory sadness at leaving Paris, we walked up to the edge of Montmartre to see a movie. Afterward, we wandered over to the Restaurant des Aristes. We arrived late, and as there were no other clients we had a sort of family get together with the monsieur caillon , his daughter and roer the waiter. we all sat around a big table and chatted in a very familiar way. after that we walked dow the hill and home through streets wet with the rain that had fallen while we were inside the lamplit city glittered in its puddles and the dnotre dame loomed out iof the mist, giving our nerves a twinge. when you know your time in a place is running out you try to fix such moments in your minds eye."

The above passage was one that I read earlier in the year and folded the page corner to remember it for later, figuring it would be relevant. It actually comes from Julia Child, who's published diary actually became a favorite passed around by my friends and I because of her adventures abroad in a foreign culture [ and enjoying the food of course]. Finland was a wonderful experience, and seemed to add so much to my last experience. Once back in Germany, it then hit me, strolling through the city center, that I was noticing corners of the city in a different way - I was almost starting to say goodbye.

Being away for a year has challenged me and impacted me in ways that I never could have expected. With two weeks remaining in my experience, the world cup broadcasted on televisions all over the city, student life vibrant, and many Bbq's and meals outside with my host family enjoying the summer weather, I could only savor every moment. Finding some forgotten Euros in my shorts pocket may have been the first reminder that it actually had been a complete year that I had been in Europe, and so much had happened in between, and time was already coming to a close.