26 April 2007

Spring Brings One Ending and Many Beginnings

This week marked the beginning of the Summer semester here, but before I talk about its outlook I would like to share a few more photos from the end of the last one.

First off, here are some shots taken during the last fencing class. Luckily, my schedule will allow for me to keep up the activity during this semester as well. The first class was yesterday and I was the only returning student from the Winter. As such the teacher asked me to spar with her as an example for the others. Hopefully they remembered that she is the teacher afterall.

Below, I'm attacking on the left. In the last one I stand on the right side.

Three days before I left Eichstätt for my travels there was an end of the semester and Fasching party in the Theke. Fasching is the southern German term for Carnival, that party that takes on a different form all around the world. In America we know it was Mardi Gras, and the main destiantion is New Orleans. Traditionally it is the period of days in which people let lose their inhibitions and party the nights away before the beginning Lent, the Catholic season of sacrifice and fasting, and Ash Wednesday. To be clear, Carnival, Fasching, Mardi Gras, or how ever it's called is not connected with the Church, rather a time of revelry organized by the laity.

In a way, Fasching is like Germany's Halloween. Special treats and pastries are prepared for the season. Party-goers usually dress up in costums and disguises. That custom explains some of the odd dressed people at the party in the pictures below. Fortunate or not, depending how you see it, most of the other foreigners and I didn't know about the custom.

Here we see from the left Valleria, Franchesca, Ji Shuix , Kristin, Federica, and me. All but Ji Shuix are gone now.

A scene from the dance floor.

Me and the Japanese girls Ayano, Mariko, and Shiho from the left. Only Mariko remains in Eichstätt.

Returning to Eichstätt I found a city engulfed with the presence of Spring time. Trees and flowers are in bloom around the city, and older German women are busy tending to their gardens. The first couple are views of the campus.

Here are some the Easter decorations left up in town after my return.

And one view of the Domplatz (Catherdral Place) and some nice outdoor seating.

My class schedule for this semester is a little tighter than last, but there's still enough lee way for weekend getaways or lazy afternoons. My German courses include the highest level grammar course, a literature course, creative writing, and the German Landscape after 1945. For geography I found a lecture more inline with my urban planning concentration, the Foundations of Settlement and City Geography. The professor is the same as last semester's USA geography course. He must be well-liked by the students because the first session, like last semester, had only standing room remaining by the time I arrived. I have decided to also continue with Spanish and am enrolled in the second level.

I attempted to take a photography course but the high number of interested students forced the instructor to limit the course only to art majors.

Wednesdays will be my sport days. The full line up includes classes in fencing and ultimate frisbee, and playing soccer with the journalism students. Charlotte's journalism friends invited me to play soccer with them, and I think the fact that I'm American is a believable excuse to explain my lack of skill with the black and white ball. They are training to win the Präsis Cup in a tournament of teams from the university's other faculties. Whether or not I will play in that tournament remains to be see.

A number of excursions already cram this semester as I attempt to see it all before I leave in around four months. This weekend I'm going with the international organization to Salzburg, Austria. Later on we will go to more destinations in Bavaria, and even farther to Dresden. In the last weekend of May I plan to visit my Italian friends in Milan. At least a couple American friends will be visiting me in Eichstätt and we'll take some day trips around the region. Plans to see Köln (Cologne) are also underway. Somehow before the semester ends I would still like to fit in a bit of Switzerland and Prague, the Czech Repbulic. When classes finally come to an end I have one last adventure sketched out the map, but more on that as the time draws nearer.

The Theke is holding a beginning of the semester party tonight, and if it's anything like the last one it should be three crowded floors of good fun.

Enough time spent on the computer, if the weather is as beautiful where you are as it is here, I suggest you go make the best of it.

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