After many long hours of travel and flights through New York and Reykjavik, I arrived in Munich early on Sunday morning. I took the bus from the airport into the city and walked to the Guesthouse where I’m staying , which is located on site at my language institute, the Carl Duisberg Centrum (CDC). I slept for a few hours to start working off the jetlag and then went to explore a bit of the city. The CDC is a pleasant 25 minute walk from the heart of the city, and walking helped me to get my bearings in the neighborhood. I strolled around the historic “old city” for awhile, and visited several of the churches and shops near the Marienplatz. I was fortunate enough to visit the main cathedral, the Frauenkirche, just as evening vespers was beginning, so I stayed for that as well as the mass immediately afterwards. There were two cardinals and about fifteen bishops in attendance, which made for an interesting liturgy. I didn’t understand most of the mass, but caught parts here and there.
I walked for a couple more hours and ate my first dinner at a Bräuhaus near the Englisher Garten. The restaurant gave me a great taste of Bavarian hospitality, and I was able to speak only German with my waiter. Everyone I’ve met here in Munich has been extremely kind and happy to chat. It seems like a very friendly city.
I started my language course this morning with an introduction to the CDC’s services and teaching philosophy and a quick interview in German before being placed into a specific coarse. There’s a great diversity of students here, with many from Italy, Switzerland, Japan, and Taiwan. I’m the only native English speaker in my class, which forces us to communicate with each other solely in German. I was surprised at my ability to carry on a conversation in German with my classmates, and it felt great to be speaking the language again . After class, one of the tutors took 5 other new students and I on a walk through the city and showed us many of the important sites. It was interesting to speak with him about the upcoming elections in Germany as well as politics in the United States. It seems that there are as many political and social cleavages in Germany as in the United States, and as if to demonstrate the point, there was a massive demonstration against Antisemitism taking place in one of the main squares. I hope that this month gives me greater insight into the social views and political attitudes of German people in addition to improving my speaking abilities.
I’m very excited for the next few weeks!