This past week at the ESC we took a day trip to The Kurpfälzisches Museum. This museum features art and archaeology located in Heidelberg, Germany close to Bismarckplatz. We had the chance to be escorted through the museum by a tour guide informing us on what each exhibit was portraying and the history behind each artifact. I was glad to have attended a museum tour relative to the city of Heidelberg because I was anxious to learn more about where I will be staying for the next four months. This was particularly important to me because if I was going to try and make Germany my home away from home, I had to learn the history behind the romance city and how it came to be.
As we were touring through the museum, we stopped and observed important pieces full of information, stories, and even legends. We learned about the copy of the jaw-bone of the Heidelberg man, the Roman presence and ways of life in this time period, and early Middle Age artifacts tying together Heidelberg’s history. We learned that The Kurpfälzisches Museum held what was left of the history of Heidelberg and that a great portion of the art we could have seen, originating from the area, was relocated to Munich along with many other key pieces of it’s history. We stopped by the artifacts that were washed of all of their color due to a certain artist’s personal preferences. Being able to compare the color and colorless gravestones, we were able to see what an impact this artist made in history. After learning this, our group planned a trip to Amsterdam. During our stay, we attended the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and saw one of the beautifully colored pieces that lasted through this time period.
Overall The Kurpfälzisches Museum was one of my favorite tours thus far. It was very informative yet not overwhelming. The size of the museum was much smaller compared to the Rijksmuseum so I feel this was an appropriate first museum tour to ease the group into the history behind our “hometown”.
Luckily for us, our tour of Heidelberg’s history extended to the GelatoGo shop right across the street from The Kurpfälzisches Museum, specially requested by our tour guide. We tried the delicious ice cream and got a small taste of the Italian heritage within Germany. From here, we walked down the street to try our first Döner Kebab, which was one of my favorites so far. I was impressed by the way they carved the meat off of a vertical rotisserie as I was standing there, making the whole pita sandwich fresh in front of me.
I would say this was our most culturally-experienced day and it was only the first week of our group arriving. In one afternoon, we had the chance to tour the Heidelberg city, observe what great history lies behind the storefronts and even taste the Italian and Turkish culture that has spilled over onto Heidelberg’s cobblestone roads overtime.
I chose to study abroad because I have never been to Europe and recently, studying abroad became a realistic interest of mine. I attended to a two-year community college and then I decided to commute to The College of New Jersey from my home so I have never actually been away from home. I am the youngest boy with three older sisters in my family so after watching them grow up and learning from their mistakes, a path has always been cleared for me. Because of this, I chose to pave my own way in Germany. No one in my family has every studied abroad so this experience will hopefully make me grow as a person, independently, on my own.
In the conclusion of this experience I hope to take back not only what I learned in my classes, but the outside education I gained by traveling to museums, historical landmarks, or simply getting lost in a city and using the little bits and pieces of the German language and culture I have learned to get back home to the ESC. I am very outgoing and I would like to say I have a very open mind. This experience will be putting my best qualities to a true test. Of course there will be conflicts and problems I run into, but my hope is that these characteristics I have will be used to their fullest in these moments of uncertainty in Germany.
The bar of a “successful” experience abroad has already been surpassed. My goal was to put my mind to the idea and follow through by actually going abroad to Germany. Instead of setting specific goals, I would like to take this semester as it comes to me. After all, I made the decision to study abroad to put myself into the unknown of what was waiting for me in this new culture and way of living in Heidelberg and the surrounding places I visit.
If someone would ask me, “what do you fear most,” my answer would be the language barrier. Considering my outgoing communication skills, when another foreign language is added to the conversation, I will need to find ways to express my thoughts. Out of respect to the natives here, I have learned common conversational phrases to use on a daily basis.
I have always been very driven and passionate in what I put my mind to. Considering these characteristics, as long as I stay patient, yet determined, I believe my stay here in Germany will be that more enjoyable.
The greatest challenge of studying abroad, in my opinion, is finding ways to turn my vacation into a place I can call home.
Growing up at home, it was my mother, my three older sisters, and myself. We had each other and for that reason, we are all very close today. My mother worked away from home, so as siblings, we raised and encouraged each other to stay on the right paths to success. We share a bond unlike any other and after watching my mother support our family, I learned to be driven and passionate about anything I put my efforts in.
Holding true to my character I grew up and stayed determine in school. I attended my local county college to continue my education while also working two jobs. I then transferred to The College of New Jersey after having obtained my Associate’s Degree. I continue to commute to The College of New Jersey so I can still work in my town at home. I hope in the next year to land a position in marketing and eventually be able to support a family under a roof that holds the same morals and supportive backbone as my childhood home, 79 Nautilus St.
Everyone has a story and that is the reason I am looking forward to the Refugee Crisis course in Heidelberg, Germany.
I am excited to put my effort into an issue that is so foreign to me in America. To get close to one of the single greatest movements in history, putting the news headlines and the media aside, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I hope to share my story with others while also learning about the struggle the refugee families have been through. If nothing else, I hope to share a laugh and smile with the children of the refugee families. In the very least, these children deserve our support after having seen so much trouble and violence at their young age.
Over the last twenty-one years, I have been able to grow in this “home” environment that has undoubtedly shaped me into the person I am today. I have been told I have an old soul due to the music I listen to, the way I carry myself, and simply the way I treat others. In one sense of my identity, the greatest is that I can listen to anyone. Yes, I can talk to anyone, but more importantly, I have the honest patience to listen, understand, and show support for who is taking the time to confide in me. In another sense of my identity, I have the ability to find the silly in the serious. I have a very light-hearted character in that I can ease the weight of any troubling situation. This is not to be confused with immaturity. In fact, it is to be understood as a way of taking a step back and asking myself, “In a life so short, do I spend energy worrying about such a thing?” If not, I decide not to dwell on a situation, but instead bring a smile to the faces in front of me.
This term abroad will alter my identity in a way that it will open my eyes to a whole new culture I have never witnessed before. I have only been out of the United States once when I went to Canada. This trip will be different in the way that I will have no choice but to learn how to turn this stay from just a vacation to a place I can call home for the next 4 months.
79 Nautilus St. is a place that is called “home” to many friends and family that we have grown close with over the years. I live in Beachwood, NJ with my mother, her fiancé, and my sister. Although a small headcount, our dinner table is always packed full with great people and even better food. Our home is unique in some instances. Aside from the dinners starting at 9pm, we have a completely open-door policy paired with an unmatched honest and accepting environment that becomes self-executing overtime. It is a place I can call “home” even years after moving out and starting a family of my own. No matter where I go or what I do, I’m grateful to know if I need any guidance, second opinions, or even just a home-cooked meal, I will have the same supportive backbone at 79 Nautilus St. that many have had in the past.
Of course, this semester will be the first time I am away from home so I can count on homesickness to set in. My hope is that I find a way to make Heidelberg, Germany my home away from home. Each day I will take the time to find another way to emerge myself in the culture here in Germany.
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August 24, 2016 to January 3, 2017 I will be studying abroad in Heidelberg, Germany. At the end of my semester (December 20, 2016) I will be traveling with a friend to London for Christmas, then Dublin, and finally spending New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam. Join me on my journey as I update you on information about me (past & present), what I will be doing to keep busy while abroad, places I will be visiting, and more!
So first, check out my neighborhood!