Melissa in Germany

Melissa, a junior majoring in oboe performance and a President’s Scholar, is participating in SMU-in-Germany. As part of the summer program, students visit Bach’s home, hear the Berlin Philharmonic and experience university life in the former East German town of Weimar.

Where Goethe wrote and died

Weimar.jpgBusy, busy, busy!

This has been a packed week here! We have our first paper due for our Cultural Formations class and an upcoming midterm, as well as many other things going on.

Yesterday was our tour of the Goethehaus. He had many different residences here, but this house was his main one. It was unbelievable how little they changed in his house. A few of the paintings are reproductions, but the house is almost exactly how he left it. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take pictures within the house, but believe me, it was amazing!

We were able to see the chair where he died, the desk where he wrote Faust, and many other places in the house that are still furnished with his items. My favorite part of the house was the piano that was sitting in the salon. Clara Schumann played on that same piano! Paganini had also played violin in that room. I still can’t believe that I stood in the same room with the same instrument as these incredible musicians! It still gives me chills.

Our tutors took us out bowling that night, which was really fun. Oli and Linda are both really nice and I’ve definitely enjoyed all of the activities that they have planned for us. I believe we are going to find a karaoke place soon!

Today we are going to a rehearsal of the college orchestra here, and they are going to be sight-reading Scheherazade. That piece is one of my favorites, so I can’t wait to hear how well they play it.

This weekend is our trip to Bonn to see the Beethovenhaus! Hopefully I will have lots of pictures and fun stories to tell you!

Until next time…

(Photo of Weimar street)

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Our weekend trip to Prague

prague.jpgHello!

We survived Prague!

After an eventful weekend that involved two members of our group getting lost by attempting to switch trains at the wrong station and the rest of the group meeting amazing people who helped us find where we were staying; it was great!

Our hostel was nice, but it was on the outskirts of town. A series of fortunate events allowed all of us to learn where to find ATM machines, how to use the metro/tram system, and how to find our hostel. We were extremely lucky that we met nice people who spoke English, because Czech is nothing like English or German.

Upon waking up on Saturday morning and taking the train into the city, we discovered the gem that is Prague. The architecture is simply breathtaking. Several of us fell in love with Prague and were so sad that we had to leave on Sunday night. Although the city is known for its pickpockets and scams, we all made it out without a problem.

prague2.jpgThere are too many sights to see in one weekend, but we took our time and enjoyed getting to know the city. My favorite site was the St. Vitus Cathedral within Prague Castle (photo right). This cathedral houses ancient tombs of local saints and kings and had the most beautiful stained glass windows that I have ever seen. Another powerful sight is the Jewish Quarter, which has a cemetery and several synagogues and has much insight to the treatment of the Jews within that ghetto. It was very sad and hard to stomach how terribly the people were treated, but I think it’s good to go and let it serve as a reminder of the past. The other “must see” of Prague is the astronomical clock that puts on a little show most hours of the day.

Aside from shopping and seeing sights, we spent hours sitting at cafes and enjoying our food and the atmosphere. At night, we made our way to the famous Charles Bridge and listened to live music and watched the sun set on the beautiful Vltava River. I still miss Prague and can’t wait to go back and see even more of the city.

Goodnight!

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To Wartburg Castle and Bach’s house

castle.jpgHello again!

Wartburg castle was beautiful. The hike up all of the stairs was made out to be a much more exhausting experience than it actually was. We are all getting in very good shape by walking all over the place. It’s great!

luther.jpgWe had a tour of the interior of the castle, and it was amazing to find out how much went on there. My favorite part was seeing the room where Martin Luther translated the Bible into German (photo right). It was a very tiny room, and it’s such an experience to actually see where it happened. I felt like all of the things that I learned about in classes finally came full circle.

The Bachhaus was interesting, but was made into more of a museum than an actual tour of “his house.” It has apparently since been discovered that his house was probably not at that location. Nonetheless, the museum was still very interesting and had a large section devoted to the instruments of Bach’s time.

I have to mention that on the bus to Eisenach, the town where Wartburg castle and the Bachhaus can be found, we were on the Autobahn. Cars were flying by us in the left lane, and it was really exciting for much of the group, since we have all heard about the autobahn and the lack of a speed limit.

This weekend is one of our “free weekends” and a group of us are going to Prague. It should be quite an adventure!

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Guten Tag from Weimar

Germany.jpg I am finally in Germany! The ten-hour plane ride and three-hour train ride were worth it … Germany is beautiful. The plants are all sorts of vibrant colors, and there are many parks and beautiful scenic areas.

Weimar itself is a wonderful little town. Most of the buildings have been reconstructed due to damage from bombings during WWII. You can always find vendors selling bratwurst and crepes in the marketplace and tours surrounding the old homes of Goethe and Schiller. For such a small town, it has a remarkable history!

Our group of students gets along extremely well and is enjoying our time here. We frequently meet up to eat at cafes or practice conducting in the park during our free time. Most of us have German suitemates, who have shown us more of the city and introduced us to places where the college students hang out. The people here are extremely friendly and speak more English than I thought. I am actually able to understand more German than I thought I would be able to, which has come in handy when asking people for directions.

Later today, we will be traveling to Eisenach to visit J.S. Bach’s birth house and Wartburg castle. I have heard that the castle is absolutely beautiful and I can’t wait to see it for myself.

Auf Wiedersehen!

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