Hello, readers! I am Laura Kalsow, a soon-to-be senior at Luther College, studying Political Science, and the last student blogger of the Münster Semester 2016. This semester proved to be one of my most interesting semesters of college because there were countless expected and unexpected adventures along the road. I traveled to over 20 different cities, did 2 solo trips, regularly used German as my language of preference, and got lost for more hours than I can count. The Münster Crew 2016 mastered: how to use public transport, how to pack for any weather, how to go about daily life in only German, and most importantly how to balance traveling and taking a 16 credit schedule.
German weather ranged from freezing cold with snow and sleet to intense downpours with wind gusts strong enough to kill any umbrella. The rare sunny days are a reason to celebrate and walking out into the light seems almost blinding. Students in the Münster Crew had various small adventures every week. If someone asked if anyone was in the mood for getting ice cream or a pastry during a break between classes; the answer was “when do we leave?” There was almost a daily race out of the Paul-Gerhard House, where we had class, during the break to go to one of the bakeries in the inner city of Münster.
Regular market days in the city are Wednesday and Saturday, which meant that after class on Wednesdays the Münster Crew infiltrated the swarming and energetic market to seek out delicious food. Saturdays people met on purpose or accidentally in the market and it ended up being a good time every time. I remember that first weekend in Münster where I had not gotten to see anyone I knew in two days and communication was fairly limited. On that Saturday, I went to the market with my host dad and I was feeling overwhelmed by the German, super jet-lagged, and generally in need of a familiar face. Thankfully the Münsteraner love going to the market and I thus got to see four other students with their host families. Those first few days in Münster were packed with new adventures, many of which involved me getting lost somewhere. As the semester progressed there were fewer moments when I was physically lost by accident and more moments when I was getting lost on purpose in the German culture and historic streets. My favorite thing about actively getting lost was discovering hidden local cafes and eating foods which I could only guess what was in them.
A good adventure does not always need a ton of planning but a bit of preparation in packing helps the journey go a bit more smoothly. I mentioned earlier that as a whole we were prepared for the weather and I should add that we were always prepared for a whole lot more. The weather did not beat us even when it tried really hard to break our wills. We were all well prepared when we headed to Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau on a warm sunny day and then returned in a chilly downpour. No one would have melted due to the rain, yet the 2-hour train ride back to Munich would have been a bit unpleasant being completely soaked.
There were other moments during trips when someone in the group was not prepared for something but be rest assured someone always had their back. Hiking up to the fortress Konigstein in the Sächsische Schweiz, I foolishly did not bring water. Thankfully, awesome classmates and Professor Christman made sure I had something to drink when the mountain aspect of the hike kicked in. On another trip in Regensburg, we hiked up to Walhalla, the German Hall of Fame, which is filled with busts of distinguished people in German history like Martin Luther and Beethoven. No one in the group hesitated to enjoy the beautiful scenery and warm, summery weather. Some students ended up trading shoes on the walk up and taking out socks because one person’s shoes were giving them blisters and no one wanted the day to be less delightful for anyone. A little bit of improvisation and luck allowed the day to end with a sunny boat ride on the Danube and everyone with comfortable feet.
The Münster Crew’s willingness to go out constantly and explore everywhere was a big part of the reason why this semester was such an amazing adventure. Family and friends back home made such a crazy schedule at points seem possible with their encouragement and support. What a brilliant adventure Germany has been. While it is sad to have it end, we will all return to Luther in the fall and have more adventures of a different type. Plus, I know and others are already plotting when we can come back to Germany again, so this is not a complete end but more of a “Bis später!” (See you later!)