Bavaria is a devout Catholic state. Berlin has two huge churches, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche and Berliner Dom, as its landmarks, but Munich has a much stronger presence of religion and traditions of faith that can be seen, heard, and felt at every corner of the city.
I tried to visit as many cathedrals in Munich as possible, and here are some of the pictures I took in the cathedrals I visited.
Although I am not a Catholic, I truly appreciate the sheer beauty of the design of the cathedrals and innumerable works of religious art in them. Every sculpture, painting, and stained glass conveys a unique story and adds to the significance of the place of worship it belongs to. I find it quite impressive that the artworks do not remain simply as artifacts from the past, but form the spiritual experiences and constitute the culture of present day, therefore continuing Bavaria’s strong Catholic identity. I am looking forward to coming back to Germany next spring for a semester abroad in Heidelberg and looking at the local places of worship and comparing them to those in Munich and other places in Germany.
Despite the unsuccessful World Cup campaign in Russia this summer, Germany remains as one of the greatest national teams in football history, having won four World Cup trophies and three European Championships.
The driving force behind the success of the German national team has always been FC Bayern Munich, who produced an endless list of legendary players over last four decades from Franz Beckenbauer to as recently as Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller.
FC Bayern Munich’s 28 Bundesliga titles, 18 cup titles, and 5 Champions League titles (including the historic treble in 2013) give their fans all the right to be proud of Stern des Südens (stars of the South). When Bayern win any of the three competitions mentioned, the players and coaching staff are invited to the city hall in Marienplatz in May to present their trophy and celebrate their successful season with the fans.
2017/18 season was no exception, as Bayern won their sixth Bundesliga title in a row. Although they lost to Frankfurt in the Pokal final the night before, Marienplatz was crowded with Bayern fans hours before the players arrived at the city hall.
This year’s Meisterfeier was quite special, as the 2017/18 season marked the last season of Jupp Heynckes, Bayern’s legendary coach who won the treble in 2013 and came out of retirement last fall to manage Bayern again when they were struggling.
A couple weeks later, I visited FC Bayern’s home stadium, Allianz Arena.
During the stadium tour, I could visit not only the field, but also the locker room, press conference room, and players’ entrance, which was all a very exciting experience for a soccer fanatic like me.
After the tour, I spent an hour in the FC Bayern museum.
The most interesting section was the one on Bayern’s Bavarian roots, particularly the one explaining the origin of Mia San Mia, a phrase that can be found everywhere in Munich.
Mia San Mia is a perfect example of Bavaria’s strong regional pride shown through FC Bayern Munich. I think it is a quite healthy (and economically productive) way to express regional pride, especially in a country like Germany where any expression of national pride has been frowned upon ever since World War II. In fact, at the Meisterfeier a TV screen sponsored by FC Bayern was showing an advertisement of the club initiating Mia San Mia projects in the home countries of their foreign players, through which local youth soccer facilities and clubs for underprivileged children are funded. Munich’s continued support and love of FC Bayern, their growing international fan base, and their immense commercial success, combined with Bayern’s superiority on pitch, show the value of rich history and tradition and how they can help both local and international communities in the present day.
Well folks I’m back, and I learned quite a lot. Not only did I learn a bunch of German, but I learned something about the process of learning language as well. When I first started to learn German last summer, I had to rely on flashcards and hard work, researching various aspects of the German grammar and so on in order to make progress in the language. This summer, however, with a bit of German already under my belt, I was able to learn new words by consulting a German-German dictionary; I was able to observe the grammatical quirks of the language through participating in conversation with my teachers and other native speakers. In other words, I was able to learn the language by using the language, and my progress accelerated much more quickly compared to last summer’s flashcards and research.
Not only did I gain this insight into the process of learning a language, but I also learned a few things about life in another culture. Germany, although it is full of pieces of American culture (our movies, television shows, memes, and so on), has still an underlying culture of its own, based on centuries of history and change. Living in a country like Germany, with its slightly different culture and its respected status in the world, truly made me realize how much I appreciate my own country. So, while I’ve gained a legitimate appreciation for the German culture and way of life, I’ve also gained a newfound appreciation for American culture.
Looking forward, my experience abroad will continue to be useful. Not only will I be able to demonstrate my global experience on resumes and applications, but the lessons I learned will actually be helpful as well. I’ve grown to appreciate another country and culture; I’ve experienced what it’s like to learn another language, and I know the process that is required now. This experience has really been transformative, and the language that I acquired during my time abroad will be extraordinarily helpful in the future, as I plan to work in Germany someday. I’m truly grateful that I underwent this experience, and I look forward to more German in the years and months to come.
The time has come, my dear friends, colleagues, and enemies. We all knew that it would come to this eventually, but who would have thought so soon? This, I regret to inform you, is my last blog post.
After much deliberation, I have come to the decision to write about a recent day trip I had the opportunity to take. After deciding on Friday night that we wanted to go somewhere on Saturday, we chose Nuremberg due to its proximity to Munich and our overlooking of the weather forecast.
Alas, we arrived in the morning and I immediately set the trip off the right way by forgetting my phone on the bus, which was actually a safer place for it than outside, where it was pouring down rain. This was not a problem, however, as any traveler of Bavaria will tell you that Nuremberg is home to many, many wonderful museums. Naturally, we chose the one closest to the bus station.
It was a modern art museum, and much to our delight, we were able to enter for free. It is unclear at this point if our free entry was due to a student discount or due to the quality of the museum. Please enjoy the following photographic memorializations of several of the exhibits:
This was a hard museum to follow. But after leaving, we decided to give the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, which was founded in 1852 and is Germany’s largest cultural history museum according to Wikipedia, a try. Naturally, it couldn’t live up to the modern art museum. I didn’t see a single exhibit about outdated appliances.
After that we saw some medieval churches and a castle. Very pretty, slightly dreary. Nuremberg is a little more Winterfell than King’s Landing if you know what I mean. But it’s a great place for war trials. Here are some pictures:
It was truly a great trip, but perhaps the highlight actually came upon our return home. At this point, we decided to stop by a supermarket in the subway station to purchase a few refreshments. As I was checking out and putting my things in my bag, a bottle broke (for, like, no reason) and cut my finger. I found myself being shouted at in German from all directions: the cashiers, the people in line, perhaps God. As I dripped blood and my bag dripped beer, I realized something. I could understand these native speakers. And they weren’t happy. Truly a great moment for my German language progression. Unfortunately, I couldn’t savor it and instead had to clean up beer and glass as I tried to not become lightheaded from blood loss.
Now the time has come for parting words. If you have read this far, I do hope you have enjoyed keeping up with my blog and with my trip. I thank you for reading and sticking with me through the highs and the lows, the ebbs and the flows, the B2s and the C1s. Nobody means more to me than you, dearest blog enthusiast. You.
Hands down, München (Munich) is now my new favorite city! Unfortunately, it also happens to be the most expensive city in Germany… but we will let that slide.
My mom and I arrived in München the evening, so we took a short walk to Marienplatz, the main city square. It was bustling with activity! In the photo below, you can see the “Neues Rathaus” or the “New Town Hall” on the right. Although the Rathaus looks like it was constructed in the Middle Ages, it was actually built in 1864 and continues to serve as the office building for the mayor, city council, and all city administration to this day.
The next morning, my mom and I walked to the Viktualienmarkt, the 200-year-old and largest open air market in Germany. It offers an incredible array of fruits, chocolates, ice creams, beers, wines, meats, bread, and garden decorations. The picture below is of “Leo’s Obst Standl” or “Leo’s Fruit Stand.” I learned that in Bavarian German, anything with an “l” on the end of a noun, such as “Standl”, means that it is small.
After visiting Viktualienmarkt, my mom and I started our bike tour of the city. It was a great introduction to the rich history and culture of München!
I learned that München was the birthplace of the Nazi Party. As we rode through the city, we were introduced to several important buildings to the movement. The buildings pictured below are the remains of the original Nazi Party headquarters located on Königplatz or “King’s Square.” The residents of München have since transformed these buildings into institutions that give back to society. For example, Hitler’s former office building is now a prestigious school for talented, young musicians.
We also visited one of the top universities in Germany, Ludwig-Maximilian University of München!
Ludwig-Maximilian University is renowned for its heroic students Hans and Sophie Scholl. In fact, there is a small museum inside dedicated to their memory! During WWII, the siblings helped organize the White Rose resistance group. They wrote, printed, and distributed over 6,000 copies of anti-Nazi propaganda leaflets across Europe. Unfortunately, these siblings were betrayed by the school janitor after passing leaflets throughout the school, arrested, and put to death in February of 1943. But their incredible story of courage and persistence lives on. It serves as a reminder that if we believe in something, we should fight for it, even if it means we must fight alone. Ludwig-Maximilian University is very proud to have been their alma mater.
After visiting Ludwig-Maximilian University, we stopped for lunch at the Chinesischer Turm beer garden located within one of the largest urban parks in the world — Englisher Garten! In fact, Englischer Garten is larger than Central Park in New York City!
After lunch, we had the opportunity to watch river surfing! Our tour guide informed us that people have been surfing the Eisbach river in Englischer Garten since the early 1970s. This was the first time I had ever seen anyone surf, so of course I was very excited!
München offers an incredible variety of things to do and its rich history makes the city all the more interesting. I would love to return someday!
How could one go to Munich and not talk about food!
First, the breakfast.
Frau Frommholz, my host-mother, prepared breakfast every day. A typical breakfast would consist of different sorts of ham and cheese, bread with butter and jam, cherry tomatoes or bell peppers, a cup of juice and tea each, and some sweets. The outward appearance might not look particularly special or strikingly different from American breakfast. However, the uniquely German way of eating breakfast that the picture above does not capture is that one always lays ham (and/or cheese, boiled eggs, and vegetables,) on top of a piece of bread, cut them into smaller pieces, and eat them together.
Frau Frommholz also made really delicious blueberry cakes!
For lunch, I often went to Viktualienmarkt, which is located right next to Marienplatz and is always crowded with both locals and tourists.
My favorite place to get lunch in Viktualienmarkt is a beer garden in the middle of the marketplace and serves varieties of pork dishes and beers. I ordered the same dish every time I went, which is shown in the picture above: knödel (potato dumpling), sauerkraut, and schweinsbraten (roast pork).
Next to the garden is a soup place.
Chicken noodle soup and pumpkin soup were always quite good.
My favorite kind of soup, however, was asparagus soup, which I ordered often at the soup place in Viktualienmarkt and also at another go-to restaurant of mine called Steinheil 16.
To my surprise, asparagus is the most beloved vegetable in Germany. In fact, the asparagus season in Germany is from mid-April to June 24th (St. John’s Day), so Marienplatz and Viktualienmarkt were always crowded with vegetable stands selling asparagus.
And of course how could I say no to a good wiener schnitzel!
One of the strongest memories of my time in Munich this summer is that of my visit to the Dachau concentration camp. The concentration camp lies just outside the city of Munich and next to the Dachau Schloss, the beauty of which is unfortunately often overshadowed by the presence of the Nazi concentration camp.
I participated in a group tour led by a German tour guide, and we arrived at the entrance of the Dachau concentration camp after an hour-long train and bus ride from Marienplatz. Dachau was the first concentration camp the Nazi regime built and at first held political prisoners as captives. Dachau was not an extermination camp like Auschwitz. However, the words on the gate welcoming the new victims hinted at a no better future:
“Arbeit macht frei,” or “Labor will free you.” These delusory words gave the prisoners entering Dachau a false hope that they may be released if they work hard. In reality, the words meant that death by labor was the only way of escape, and the painful irony was only followed by the desolate landscape of the camp.
Walking through the Dachau facilities preserved from the time of World War II, the tour guide explained to us that as Dachau began to imprison a broader range of population – including Jews, Jehovah’s witnesses, Catholic priests, and homosexuals – the Nazi officers developed a very intricate system of labels to categorize and assign to every prisoner.
The 20-minute documentary film we watched gave us a more detailed look into the atrocities done at Dachau The prisoners were subject to absurdly strict or haphazard rules by the Nazi officers and, as a result, received harsh punishments that often lead to death. Not unreasonably, many prisoners chose to commit suicide by throwing themselves to electric fences or deliberately crossing the boundaries of the Dachau, which forced the guards to shoot them.
Lastly, we visited the crematorium, which was used to burn all the corpses in the camp. The guide told us that towards the end of the war, Dachau did not have enough coal to burn all the corpses, so endless piles of corpses just lay outside of the crematorium for weeks.
The visit to Dachau was full of intense emotions. It is quite remarkable and commendable that a visit to a concentration camp is a requirement for all German schools – a show of the culture of remembrance, die Erinnerungskultur, in Germany. The reason must be that Dachau is not simply a historical artifact. Rather, in this age of ever-increasing hatred and discrimination where the geist of National Socialism still lurks around and haunts us, Dachau sends a strong message to us that is summed up in this epitaph of this statue:
In the last weeks of my SLA, I soaked up as much of Berlin as I possibly could. I saw “The Caucasian Chalk Circle”, a play by Bertolt Brecht. Again, this play was entirely in German so the experience of being able to use my newly developed ear to understand much of the conflict and interests of the characters was very exciting. The play was one of Brecht’s most famous, and it included many biblical themes within it. Brecht’s mother was catholic, while his father was Protestant. The story displayed a fight between two mothers, in which both believe they are the true mother of a child. On one hand a woman believes she is the mother because she raised it when she found it abandoned. On the other, a woman believes that because they are blood related, it is only right that she deserves the child. The play was incredible and the csat was extremely talented. This play was at the Berliner Ensemble, a historic theater that was established in 1949 by Brecht himself. What made this theater stand out was its rotating sign that shows its face to the rest of the city. This is still the same sign that they put up when it was first established. After a summer of seeing various plays and operas, I have to say that this was my favorite one!
I spent my summer here in Berlin within the same time frame as some of the other Notre Dame Berlin programs. I was given the opportunity to attend the final dinner for the ND programs, and there I was able to see many of the professors who inspired me to explore Berlin and the German language in the first place. Professor Kaupp and Professor Donahue are two German professors I have been able to develop great relationships with and meet in Berlin. I was also able to have a conversation with Professor Pabsch, my art and architecture history professor from last semester. It was incredible to meet these people here in the country we all share an appreciation for.
Love snow-covered mountains, turquoise-colored lakes, and enthralling, romantic castles?! Well, Füßen is the German city for you (and me)!
My mom was able to take off time from work to come visit me, which was an incredible blessing. We rented a car and journeyed south on the famous Romantic Road to the Bavarian city of Füßen. Naturally, we took a few unexpected detours and ended up driving on the Autobahn +! Cars were flying by us! The terrain was mainly flat or slightly hill until we reached the Austria-Germany. Rocky mountains loomed in the distance. It was beautiful. Of course, I had to take a picture!
Füßen is over 700 years old and located on the Germany-Austria border. Its close proximity to Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles has allowed the town to become a popular tourist attraction.
We only had 24 hours in Füßen so we prioritized our time with tours of Hohenschwangau Castle and Neuschwanstein Castle.
Hohenschwangau Castle was first built in the 12th century and ruled by the Knights of Schwangau until the 1535 when the castle was destroyed. But in 1832 Crown Prince Maximilian II decided to rebuild the castle. His two sons Ludwig II and Otto spent their childhood here.
Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos inside the castle. But the decor was unbelievable. Every inch of the castle was decorated with centuries old paintings and enclosed in an elegant gold trim. Each royal family member had their own floor of the house that was decorated according the duties and responsibilities of their title. For example, the King’s floor was decorated with paintings of the knighting of a king, winning a glorious battle for the homeland, and wooing beautiful women to become his wife. The children’s quarters were on the top floor, the king’s quarters on the floor below, and the queen’s quarters were below the king’s.
There is a reason for the famous phrase, “Be careful what you say! The walls have ears!” Hohenschwangau has hidden passageways leading to every room! These passageways were used by servants during the winter months to light all furnaces in the house. The royal family did not want be disturbed with the frequent relighting of furnaces, so they designed these passageways to prevent the servants from being seen. But, from within these passageways servants could learn about all the royal family drama!
Nestled high in the Alps, this world-famous castle was originally built for only one person: King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The intention was to make a more beautiful and comfortable castle than that of his childhood home, Hohenschwangau Castle.
Unfortunately photography was also prohibited inside Neuschwanstein castle. But the exquisite detail of every woodcarving and painting and the advanced was absolutely astounding. The tour guide informed us that fourteen carpenters worked for more than four years on just the woodwork in the King’s bedroom!
But as the tour continued, it became more and more clear why the Bavarian people often referred to their king as “Mad King Ludwig.” For example, we were led into an enormous room decorated with a balcony, mosaic wall paintings, patterned wood flooring, and glass chandeliers. At first, I thought it was a ballroom, a chance for the king to share his fairytale castle with the outside world. But I was wrong. In reality, this “ballroom” was designed as only a room for King Ludwig to sit alone and think!
Despite 17 years of construction, most of castle still remains unfinished. After the death of King Ludwig II in nearby Lake Starnberg on June 13th, 1886, all construction on the castle ceased.
What an amazing trip! I learned so much about Bavarian history in just 24 hours! Next stop, München!
To give you, beloved blog reader, a sense of my food-related expectations going in to this trip, I’d like to let you know that I have been eating at North Dining Hall almost every day for the last two years. So, naturally, my expectations in the old Food Department were extremely– if not unreasonably– high. Also, my mom is a chef.
My favorite Bavarian dish is traditionally served in a frothy 1-liter glass and… actually I’ve already discussed this meal in previous blog posts. Why don’t you use this time to read over the dedicated notes that you have been keeping about my blogs to refresh your memory.
Are you back? If so, then I’ll now discuss the side dishes that sometimes come with this meal. First, there is the classic Brezel. Before you whip out your German-English dictionary to figure out that difficult word, I’ll just tell you that it means pretzel in English. Add that to your notes. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Pretzels? We don’t have those in America. Well, first of all, I don’t like your tone. And secondly, while you can certainly purchase a similar pretzel at any ballpark in the United States, the German pretzel is not exactly the same. In fact, they are generally sold and consumed at room-temperature. But they’re still delicious, in part because of what you can dip them in.
Namely, Obazda. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Obazda? We don’t have that in America. That’s better; I appreciate the non-sarcastic tone because you are correct. As far as I know, Obazda can not be found in the United States, at least not easily. And that is a real shame because this cheese is wonderful. A traditional Bavarian dish, Obazda is made from combining come sort of soft cheese with butter, beer, and spices, and can only be made while wearing lederhosen. Truthfully, the most difficult part of coming home could be the lack of Obazda. My friends and I have settled in to a routine of eating this cheese almost every day with lunch.
Dearest blog reader, I beg of you, please find a place that I can buy Obazda in the US. I am desperate.