Scollan, Joseph

Name: Joseph Scollan
Location of Study: Germany
Program of Study:
Sponsors: Robert Berner

8 thoughts on “Scollan, Joseph

  1. 1st Post: Leaving for the Vaterland soon!

    I have two more days under the Red, White and Blue before I wake up under the Rot, Gelb, und Schwarz. I will be flying to München on Friday and after a layover in Geneva, will arrive in München on Saturday. I am feeling really excited to improve my German, and with that I am so excited to experience some German culture and cuisine. Granted I am a little bit nervous about not knowing anyone else at the Goethe Institut and about being away from my family and friends for four weeks, but I hope that I’ll a jump into the flow of school quickly. I am sure I will have an incredibly fruitful experience, but I just want to make sure that I adjust well to the city and the people. Bis bald USA!

    • btw this post was written on May 29… Did not publish until June 5th

  2. 2nd Post: Adjusting to München

    Hallo alle! Es freut mich! (Hey everyone, nice to meet you)
    To be perfectly honest the first few days in Munich were a little overwhelming. I got here on Saturday, because I thought my class started on Monday morning, so I wanted to have a day to adjust a bit. Turns out Monday was just check-in day so I ended up with 2.5 days between arriving and really having anything to do. It was especially hard because southern Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria had been under heavy rain and severe flooding, so I really couldn’t leave the Goethe Institut’s guesthouse to explore the city. So ein Pech (What a bummer)! But now that I’ve been in class for two days things are getting much better. The rain has stopped, I’ve gotten to explore the city, and am meeting a lot of new people.
    I got placed in the B2 level class, which means that I am a high intermediate speaker of German. So far, I’ve found the class very manageable. Over my time in Germany this past week I’ve had no trouble communicating to people, but once every 10 min or so I can’t remember a word so that’s been really frustrating. I have to work on my vocabulary and really try to incorporate new words rather than just reusing the ones I know. Overall I have been please with my German speaking and understanding ability. I have had no trouble with grammar save a few adjective endings here or there, but sometimes I forget my vocabulary. I think I may buy a harry potter book in German; reading a book I know may help me read quicker and with more confidence.
    I’ve found some really cool little squares in the city so far. This morning I stumbled across a huge outdoor market/biergarten named the Münchner Reinheitsgebot! On the subject of food and beer, I’ve really love experiencing the German cuisine. I’ve had Wienerschnitzel, weiße Brautwurst, sauerkraut, and of couse a few of the helle, dunkel und weiße Beers. I also ate some sort of pork patty on a roll today, but I don’t quite remember what it was called haha! My favorite food so far has definitely been the sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is essentially salted cabbage that ferments for about 3-5 months in air-accesible environments. It is served uncooked and is loaded with vitamins! It sounds a little gross but I really like the sour taste, especially with a good weiße bratwurst and beer! It is really popular throughout Central Europe, but it was first eaten by the TarTars from Mongolia.
    Yesterday all of the students in my class went out to dinner at a true Münchner Restaurant and it was such a great time! I have to be more diligent about the Euro change though, because the 1Euros and 2Euros are coins and they are easy to forget about! The two hardest things so far have been using Celsius outside of a science lab and the 24 hour “Army” clock.
    Overall I’m really beginning to enjoy Munich and I feel like it is only going to get better!
    Bis nächste Woche!

  3. 3rd Post: Time’s moving fast

    Hallo alle! Was ist los?
    I’m really enjoying myself here in München. The weather has been for the most part sunny, I’ve managed to explore much of the city, visited Ulm (a city in Baden-Wüttenburg) and Neuschwanstein (ie the disney castle), and met a lot of interesting, friendly people at my program!
    As for the places I’ve visited so far (Ulm, Neuschwanstein, the Residenz (another palace in Munich), Hirsch Garten (park), etc.) I enjoyed Neuschwanstein the most. It’s located at the southmost edge of Bavaria at the beginning of the alps, and it was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s castle at the beginning of their movies. It situated on top of a smaller peak, so it’s possible to walk up a different mountain and get some beautiful pictures of it overlooking the farmlands. The inside is incredibly ornate, but unfortunately it was strictly verboten to take pictures of it… Schade. It was a fantastic trip though, and I’m really glad I went.
    I got a feel for Munich’s culture this past week too. It’s a very beautiful city in it’s history, parks and buildings. Unlike most German cities, which after the bombings in WWII built new “modern” architecture, Munich rebuilt most of it’s buildings exactly the way they were before the war, so Munich has a very different feel to it than say Berlin. While Berlin is hip and edgy, Munich is peaceful and elegant. Both are great, just a much different feel. Munich does know how to let loose though, and it seems that everyday it’s biergartens are overflowing with people! The Biergarten’s have an incredible dynamic of regulars in Lederhosen or Dirndles and foreigners like myself. Speaking of being foreign though, I’ve been asked twice this week if I speak English and once if I were from Berlin (granted I was wearing a Hetha Berlin soccer jersey, but the fact that he couldn’t tell I was American from my German is promising)!
    So far, I’ve found the class very manageable, yet very boring. I really want to focus on two things: improving my colloquialisms/phases and studying for my B2 exam (which is by no means easy from the practice tests I’ve taken, and I need to pass it to get credit for this class). The class so far has essentially consisted of us memorizing rather mundane and not incredibly useful vocabulary about art and culture. I just don’t think it’s incredibly useful. I’d much rather have a 4 hour conversation with someone in German and learn more vocabulary that way, than sitting in class reviewing grammar and learning “altmodisch” words. Even with the somewhat dull class, I have had no trouble communicating to people, and my German is really improving! I bought the first Harry Potter book (Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen) last Tuesday and I’ve already ready 180/335 pages! I’ve had no trouble understanding most of it at all! I really like reading it, because it uses a lot of colloquialisms and useful conversational vocabulary, which I’ve been writing down and soaking up! Also even if I don’t know the exact translation for the words, I can get the feel for them and understand what they mean. Also Harry Potter is just a fun book to read in any language.
    With the people I’ve met, we’ve often talked about our respective countries. Generally the Europeans have a very positive view on America, although there is the stereotype that Americans are a bit slow. Also a French student in my class said that America likes to go to war over oil, to which I responded sharply. I’ve found some of the French here to be slightly rude in their conversations with me, which although I attribute to a different cultural norm on conversing, I still find it incredibly infuriating when someone openly questions religion or politics with me. The arabic people in my class (Saudis and Pakistani) have a thinly veiled distain for American customs, which I’ve overlooked. While most of the people here I’ve met (Germans, English, Japanese, Indonesian, Italian, Polish, Swiss etc.) are very positive on America’s people and policies, there definitely are people with whom I know not to discuss my allegiances.

    Munich really has been fantastic though, and I’m so excited to study here for two more weeks!
    Tschüs for now
    -Joe Scollan

  4. 4th Post. Only a Few More Days

    I meant to post this last week but the site was struggling.
    A lot has happend in the time since my last post. I’ve taken the B2 written exam (I find out how I did today), traveled some more (went to Schloss Nymphemburg=another castle in Munich of the old electors) and most importantly been enjoying all which Munich has to offer (Biergartens, regular gardens, museums). Also on a slightly different note not only did I finish the first Harry Potter Book in 4 days, but then I finished the second one in 5 days. I’ve made a concerted effort to improve my Reading Comprehension skills through these HP books, because before this trip reading comprehension was most definitely my weakest area in German. Although my speaking (to the point where yesterday in class my professor twice said that I was the class’ best speaker), my writing (I’ve incorporated expressions: eg “Ich bin in der Lage”= I am in a position (to do so)) and my understanding of spoken German have all improved, my reading comprehension has definitely been the most positively effected by this trip so far.
    My parents are coming today to Munich as well. We will be in Munich for three more days so that I can wrap up my course and then we are traveling to Trier (oldest city in Germany), Freiburg (Black Forest country), and Zürich before returning to NY on July 5th. So even though my class is ending tomorrow, I’ll still be blogging on my travels!
    Last weekend (June 15-16), Munich celebrated it’s 855 birthday, which is actually rather young for a major European city. As it was Munich’s birthday the main townsquare (Marienplatz) was converted into a biergarten and all of the little side streets leading into the square were jampacked with little stands selling everything from nutella crepes to handmade teddybärs to wood carvings. It was really a crazy, fun, and undoubtedly interesting holiday. The idea of celebrating a city’s birthday just seems (for lack of a better word) so foreign to me that when I first discovered the celebration on a walk through town, I had to stop and ask someone what they were celebrating! He said it was a day to relax and celebrate being a Müchner. And I have to agree with that! They had live music, tradition dancing (Schuhplattler aka the slap the knees dance, and Lederhosen), and probably too many barrels of beer, but regardless (or perhaps because thereof) fun was had by all. Later in the day I did some research on where the birthday celebration came from and I learned a lot about the history of München. The area where Munich is was originally a monastery. The German word for monks is now Mönche, but a thousand years ago in Old German, the word was Müniche. Duke Henry the Lion (Herzog Heinrich der Löwe) of Saxony and also of Bavaria destroyed a bridge over the Isar river near Freising. This bridge was very strategically important because it was used for the salt trade, so whichever town controlled the bridge got to collect a tariff on the salt trade. He then ordered that the new bridge be built “bei den Münichen” (near the monks: Münichen being a dative plural of Müniche). When the Bishop of Freising complained to Emperor Frederick Barbarosa, the Emperor called a Reich’s council (made up of the most influential Bishops and Princes), which vindicated the Duke’s actions on June 14th 1158. As the new salt bridge bei den Münichen generated a great deal of revenue from the tariffs, a town started to grow around the bridge. Thus Münichen was born. Sooner or later the i was dropped and that’s where München comes from, and how it’s official birthday was given.
    Overall a very interesting little story about the founding of a city. Funny though, had Heinrich not destroyed the bridge, I’d probably be studying in Freising now!

  5. 5th Post: Traveling
    One week has passed since my last post. In that time, I’ve finished my course at the Goethe Institut, met up with my parents in Munich, and have traveled from Munich to Trier to Freiburg to Bad Krozingen to Staufen and finally we are in Zürich for the next three days. I’m heading back to the States on Friday. Also I passed my B2 written exam and then the oral exam with a 75/100!!! That means not only did I manage to get credit for my trip, but also I can WORK in Germany if I ever wish to! That is definitely cool!
    I’ll just summarize my trips a bit.
    Munich: Naturally I’d been to the main sites over the course of the month, so I just brought my parents to the Residenz (Imperial Palace), Marienplatz, Viktuellenmarkt, etc.
    Trier: oldest city in Germany. Founded by the Romans in circa 10 BC. We toured the Roman Amphitheater (10th biggest in Roman empire at 18K seats), the Bath house (2nd biggest in the empire), the Porta Nigra (the only surviving Roman city gate in the world), and the various churches/cathedrals in the old city. Trier happened to be celebrating it’s summer festival so I am completely serious when I say that not only did they have 5 huge music stages set up in the little old city, but food/beer/wine stands every 20 feet. Trier is in the Rhineland so it’s really well known for it’s white wines, which I have to say were very very good. Much sweeter than any white wine I’d ever tasted before.
    Freiburg: very cool Medieval German city. Toured their cathedral and old city. Their food is much more focused on späzle (noodles) rather than on sauerkraut and wurst like Munich. Located in Baden-Württemberg, Freiburg is very close to Alsace-Lorraine, and really is a great little city to base day trips out of.
    Staufen: This was a day trip from Freiburg. Very little German town- only 8,000 people! Very off the beaten track but get this: THIS WAS THE FAUST AND MEPHISTO TOWN!!!! The original Dr. Faustus lived and died during an alchemy experiment in the Löwen Tavern (where we had an incredible lunch). The townspeople were afraid of him but asked him to move to Staufen once their silver mines dried up, in the hope that he would be able to make gold. After an explosion occurred in his lab, which disfigured his face and left him dying, the villagers claimed he was working with the devil. Therefrom sprung the story of Dr. Faust and Mephistopheles, which Goethe (Germany’s premier writer) turned into his most popular trilogy of books! Very very very cool!
    Bad Krozingen: This was only a few hours on the same day as the Staufen trip. It’s a thermal spring town, wherein a lot of spas have popped up. So we went to the Wolfenhaus spa for a few hours to try out their thermal baths. It was a very relaxing and soothing experience. Definitely a side of Germany which I had never seen, nor ever expected to see.
    Zürich: Just got to Zürich today. Switzerland uses the Frank still, and although it’s worth less than the Euro, everything here is super expensive, to the point of just being ridiculous. That being said we took a ferry ride around lake Zürich today for 1.5 hrs and although it’s reputation is as a very industrial city, it really has some very pretty areas. Tomorrow we are going to visit Lake Lucerne, which is nearer to the Alps in Switzerland and I’ll be leaving for NY two days thereafter. I’ve had a fantastic time traveling this last week, but I’m ready to return home. I miss burgers and pizza.
    No matter where we’ve gone in Germany/Switzerland I’ve noticed that Turkish population therein lives in very similar circumstances. The Turks play the role of migrant worker in much of Germany, after having never truly assimilated after immigrating to Germany after WWII as a working population. They still keep mostly to themselves and speak a mix of Turkish and German, which is impossible for me to understand. While by no means are all of them poor, I’d say 90% of the homeless in Germany have been of Turkish decent. It’s a pretty sad situation, and it’s causing Germany quite a few problems. Even on my B2 test, the listening portion was an interview between a journalist and 3 different Turkish families about how they feel relating to the rest of the population. In that passage, the families said that they really don’t feel like they belong in either Turkey or Germany, as they are seen as foreigners in both countries. While the German Industry needs the Turkish families, as the historically German citizens are not producing enough children anymore, the social pressures on the Turkish in Germany is a large issue.

  6. 6th and Final Post: Reflecting on my Experience.

    I’ve been back in the States for five days now and although I was ready to get back and start working again, I definitely am missing some of the German culture: Stammtische, the music, and the atmosphere of the Biergartens. Looking back on my trip now, I certainly can recognize how important my time in Munich, and thereafter traveling through Southern Germany and Switzerland was for my growth in the German language. I improved my comprehension of German and I developed a better understanding of the German ethos. Being able to immerse into the country was vital, I realize now, because how could I have truthfully studied German, as a German major without first-hand experience living amongst Germans? I am pleased to be home, but I plan to keep working on my German. I still have a few Harry Potter books which I will start reading again this weekend. Although those books are meant for young teenagers and although they do no really deal with realistic situations, they were incredibly helpful in growing my conversational vocabulary, as much of the book is conversation between teenagers. I am very happy/satisfied with my time in Germany and I want to thank the SLA at Notre Dame and Mr. Robert Berner for making it possible! Tschau!