Notions About Oktober

Authored by:
Rachel H.

Rachel H.

Tschüss Oktober, and hello November! As I’m slowly getting used to, as one month ends and the next begins, life gets very, very busy. In the last few weeks, though, I’ve gotten to see much more of Germany in trips to Heidelberg, Mainz, Köln, and Hessenpark, as well as lots of friends! 

Heidelberg: One of the best (and worst) things about Germany is the widespread use of public transportation. With Deutsche Bahn, it’s extremely easy for me to travel the hour and a half to the nearby city of Heidelberg, a very old, picturesque town. A few Saturdays ago, that’s exactly what I did. I met up with several friends from the Schloß, for a day of shopping/ exploring Heidelberg and then going ice skating. 

Meeting up with Theo, Wrenn, Paola, and Adam, we walked down the main streets of Heidelberger Altstadt, a popular shopping street. Though we didn’t really buy anything, we visited several bookstores, a few churches, and other random shops we thought looked cool. After a few hours of that, we met up with Veronica, who’s with Partnership International, the other organization that works with CIEE, and Luke, a friend of Veronica and Paola’s since they all go to the same school, and went ice skating. 

Mainz: Fall break was made up of a series of day trips that my host family took me on. The first of which, was to the nearby city of Mainz (pronounced Mines), which hosts Mainz Cathedral as well as the Gutenberg Museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed the day we went, but I’m sure I’ll have time to go back at some point. 

Köln: Going to Köln, though you probably know it as Cologne, is about a 2 hour drive for me and my host family. I mostly slept on the car ride to and from, especially once I put in my earbuds and started listening to music, but whenever I looked out the window, I was still shocked to see how beautiful Germany is. Actually being in the city was such an adventure too! 

We started by riding a lift that gave us such a great view of the city, though there were a few times when Sina and I started to doubt the mechanics of the ride. Then, we traveled to the Cologne Cathedral, which was the biggest Gothic style church I’ve ever seen. We ended our day by visiting the Cologne Schokoladenmusuem (chocolate museum). Seeing as I absolutely love chocolate, this was super amazing for me and it was such a cool experience! After buying loads of chocolate, including one I got to customize, we took all the free samples we could get and enjoyed the fall weather on the way back to the car. 

Hessenpark: If you didn’t know it before, you would certainly know it by the time I was done describing this place, so I might as well tell you; I’m a huge history nerd. Hessenpark was very close to Wonderland for me. Being an open-air museum, we were very lucky that Mother Nature was on our side that day as it wasn’t too hot, nor too cold. We got to appreciate, explore, and learn all about the restored old buildings. So much of it looked like you stepped back in time and so much was preserved. There were also goats and sheep there, which Sina made friends with. 

Once my fall break was over, I returned to school and life got back to normal. I met up with friends again when I had a day off school and I started taking a class to learn more German, which is progressing slowly but surely. I’ve also started volunteering at my host mom, Vera’s work, a kindergarten where I work on very basic German skills and play with toddlers. 

Sina and I also had a Halloween party. Theo and I spent the day in Frankfurt and ended up buying 2 pumpkins and some paint to decorate them with. We missed 2 trains back home before we finally made it! We painted the pumpkins, mine as Frankenstein, his as a cat, and got ready for the Halloween party, where we watched some movies, played Just Dance, and really just hung out. 

I’ve become more interested in ice skating too. A few local coordinators in the area collaborated and set up a meeting for us in the local area to get together and go ice skating. It was really cool because I learned that a few people are much closer than I thought. I’m very proud to say that I only fell once and by the end of it, I was able to skate by myself with almost complete confidence. And I’m determined that by the time I go back to the United States, I will have mastered ice skating and be able to impress all my friends back home. 

Signing off for now, 

Rachel 

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