Hedersleben: A Pocket of America- Part 1
Where Am I?
Germany. Yes, I'm in Germany. No longer in America and that was a fact. Yet despite this reality, I often found it hard to believe at times. This was a shared sentiment among my friends and I at camp, which was a topic we would often discuss. After all, we left speaking German in the classroom, and English would once again become what we spoke around the Kloster (Monastery). Even though it was no longer a Kloster, we ran with it because I guess it just had that ring to it. So, what once was a Kloster, was now a hotel, but for the month of August, it would function as the home of fifty American teens beginning their year abroad in Germany.
Found in one of Germany's sixteen states (Sachsen-Anhalt), and tucked away in the Harz region, stood Kloster Hedersleben. Erected in the 13th century, the Medieval design of the Kloster drew the gaze of any passerby with its traditional, yet beautiful architecture of a period from long before. Yet despite its Medieval exterior design, the interior was renovated and accommodated countless guests to provide them with a comfortable stay. Living at the Kloster was a unique experience because of the atmosphere. Before, I had never lived in a building that carried with it an old aesthetic that referenced the past, as well as no air-conditioning. Upon hearing that German buildings don't have air-conditioning (or very seldom), I dreaded the days of blistering heat and profuse sweating. But throughout my month at the Kloster, I seldom found myself wishing for air-conditioning. I'm not sure how that specifically came to be, because I have always found more comfort in cooler climates than hot ones, yet I survived without much discomfort. I don't know about you, but for me, that's definitely a win in my book!
But before I elaborate on the general gist of the language camp and what each day was constituted of, let me explain the first few days, including arrival day. *Zhwoop Zhwoop* (Bear with me, that was a time warp).
August 6th, 2023 Sunday- First Day in Germany
Arrival at the Kloster was received with sighs of relief and the anticipation of much needed sleep. All fifty of us had received little to no sleep in the past day and a half because of all of the traveling. From the little sleep we could get, it was always upright in a seat, either on the airplane or on a bus. Now, I think we all know that sleeping upright in stiff seats gives you more neck cramps than actual sleep, even when you try desperately to get some shuteye. Though I will admit that I could have received a few hours of sleep on the bus ride to the Kloster, I chose not to because, alongside me, my friends Nicolai, Hudson, and Holtzman participated in a challenge to stay awake until we reached the camp. The four hours I spent on that bus seemed more like 8. I would drift in and out of sleep, fighting the suppressive weight of my eyelids and forcing them back up. There were moments when the ride was entertaining, as the four of us would laugh at each other after reminding ourselves of how dumb of a challenge it was. Eventually, the gruelling ride was over and we were welcomed to camp.
Everyone had expected a soft welcome, room assignments, a meal, and then sleep, yet the schedule didn't exactly adhere to that. With every camp, the ground rules and the premise of the camp have to be established, so that was what we did. Now, no disrespect to anyone, but staying awake during those twenty minutes was a task in itself. I think I was able to remain awake the entire time because I could hear talking, but I'm not quite sure if I appeared awake or in a daze. Anyway, I had hoped that would conclude the evening and we could retreat to our rooms, but not quite yet! We got to play some get-to-know-me games which required energy that I didn't know I had. By the time the games were over, I could hear my bed calling for me! It was a soft lullaby that lulled me into thinking of nothing besides closing my eyes and falling asleep. So when the time came when I was all tucked under my covers and ready to sleep, I had essentially made a new best friend- my bed. That night, I slept like a baby, and it had never felt better to be lying down.
End of Part 1
One of the most festive times of the year in Germany is Karneval. The highlight of Karneval, Rosenmontag, is a day filled with dancers, marching bands, and float parades. My host sister were able to go together and take part in the festivities!
Last month, fifty Americans from Experiment traveled to the charming town of Oberwesel for our midyear seminar. Amidst the chaos of fifty American teenagers in one youth hostel, we played a short game of hide-and-seek.