This will be my last post from Mainz until April! It’s been the most fantastic semester but I’m definitely ready to go back home to Scotland for the long Easter holiday.
To celebrate the end of exams, I took a day trip to Koblenz. It’s a lovely, although very quiet city and home to the famous Deutsches Eck, where the Rhine and Moselle rivers meet.
The best views can be seen from the enormous statue which marks this area.
A particular highlight was the cable car ride up to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, which strategically overlooks the two rivers. I feel that the Rhine has been an important part of my travels in Germany and it was lovely to take a cable car over it!
The fortress at the top is also very spectacular. It’s quite a creepy spot to wander around (and it was absolutely freezing when we went!) but it gives amazing views. It was also an excellent opportunity for my friends to jump out at me!
I can’t believe that I’m halfway through my year abroad already! It’s been utterly wonderful and I’m so excited for all the adventures in the next semester. I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out and I’ve met some truly amazing people!
January is always going to be a busy month, but I’m really pleased that I took as many opportunities to travel as possible!
At the end of January, I went on an Erasmus trip to Strasbourg. It’s a beautiful city and the old town is really pretty, although it wasn’t quite what I expected. I have to admit, I also couldn’t believe I went all the way to France and they still showed us a statue of Johannes Gutenberg!
It’s a lovely and interesting place, but the highlight of the trip was definitely the tour of the European Parliament. It made me even more appreciative of the opportunity to do an Erasmus year and meet so many other international students.
I can also now say I’ve had the experience of seeing the European Parliament in session. It was so interesting but I ended up watching the interpreters for most of it! There was something utterly inspirational in the whole trip, although we were completely exhausted at the end.
February has been an exciting month so far: I’m pleased with my exam results and have been doing a bit of travelling!
I went to see the Fasnacht Parade in Frankfurt, which was really fun to watch but it’s something I don’t really understand. It’s a part of German culture I’d like to learn more about, because it must be fantastic to part of something so historic.
I’m also really pleased that I was able to visit Wiesbaden, which is a city very close to Mainz. It’s a lot larger but quieter than Mainz, and a very grand city.
To continue my travels, yesterday I went to Darmstadt. I think this is actually one of my favourite places so far, particularly the Mathildenhohe or Kunstkolonie area. It’s an Art Nouveau park with an amazing Russian Orthodox church. Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it before!
It’s starting to feel very Christmassy here! I went on a trip to Bonn a couple of weeks ago, to tour the city and see the market. There’s something amazing about visiting a ‘former capital’, and I generally really liked the city. There was even an English shop, so I could finally buy some decent tea!
A highlight was definitely Beethoven’s house museum, which is right in the city centre. The Haribo factory shop was also somewhere we just had to visit! It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to visit these places and go sightseeing, as it’s a wonderful break from university life.
The Christmas market was also beautiful – we had some Gluhwein and German food to try and stay warm!
To continue the Christmas theme, I went to Nuremberg Christmas market last weekend. It’s another very interesting city and we started the day off (after a very early bus ride), by visiting the Nazi Dokumentationszentrum. You can see the huge arena where Hitler gave speeches and I found the exhibition and films really interesting. It was, however, quite a heavy start to the day and we were a bit worn out and cold by the time we got to the market!
We then went to the Albrecht Dürer house museum, with it’s dark, 15th century styled interior. A highlight was definitely seeing his printing press, a nod to the influence of Johannes Gutenberg. By this point, I think we were feeling a bit overwhelmed with information and gave up after a while to get hot chocolate!
And then we had some time to wander around the Christmas market. It was very beautiful in the evening and as it is one of Germany’s largest, it is impressive. I think Nuremberg is somewhere I would like to go back to – there’s a lot to see and I think it would have a very different atmosphere without the bustling market.
I finished the weekend with a very cultural cinema trip! I went to see Nosferatu as part of the FILMZ festival in the arthouse cinemas in Mainz. It was definitely a weird experience: there was a very long awards ceremony at the start and the film has got to be one of the strangest I’ve ever seen! I’m so glad I went though, it feels like a very stereotypical year abroad activity!
The last couple of weeks have been very wintry here! I was recently invited on a trip through the ‘Fremde Werden Freunde’ initiative, where international students are introduced to local people. I had the most wonderful time at the massive Hochheim winter market.
It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before! The market must have taken up the whole village, and even featured a medieval part!
A highlight were the ‘Marktschreier’, people putting together crates of fruit or meat and shouting at everyone to buy them!
The 11th of November is an official Fasnacht day in Mainz, so I went to see the opening speech and parade. It was extremely crowded but there were some very impressive costumes. It was so cold that I probably enjoyed the hot chocolate at the end more than the event, but it made me feel like I’m really getting involved in German culture.
Last week I had a trip to the Schirn museum in Frankfurt with my Visual History of Germany class. We went to see the exhibition ‘Glamour and Misery in the Weimar Republic’. I really enjoyed it because it features mostly works from female artists and focuses on the portrayal of women during this time. I also really loved the very industrial artworks on display.
My classes have been quite busy and full-on and the work is piling up, but I managed to get myself out of the library and go to the remains of a Roman Theatre in Mainz. There’s not a huge amount to see but the ancient walls are quite impressive and it’s a lovely, more quiet area of the city to walk around.
I feel like I’m doing everything I can to get really involved here and meet as many people as possible. It can be pretty exhausting but I’m making the most of my time here!
I was really excited to visit Frankfurt last weekend! In comparison to Mainz, Frankfurt is an enormous, bustling city. It is particularly important for business and economy in Germany and is very international.
I was completely unprepared for the freezing autumn weather so we started out by getting pretzels and walking to the city centre. We started off an amazing day of sightseeing by visiting the Pauluskirche, where the first elected Frankfurt Parliament was held in 1848.
We then had the opportunity to go inside the Rathaus or Town Hall in Frankfurt Altstadt. It isn’t normally open for visitors but on that weekend, there was a fair for local companies and for all the city organisations. It was great to see the inside of the building and there were some crazy events on – I got to juice oranges by cycling!
After probably the most wonderful hot chocolate I’ve ever had in my life, we went to the Goethe House Museum. This has to be one of the highlights of my time in Germany so far! It isn’t interesting or unusual in terms of the house or furniture, but there is something fantastic about seeing Goethe’s library and writing desk. I can now say that I’ve been in the room where Faust was written, a lovely reminder of how much I love the subject I’m studying.
I’ve had two days of holiday this week, so it’s been quite relaxed. I’m really enjoying properly getting to know Mainz and other cities in the region.
Last week, I went on an Erasmus trip to Heidelberg, somewhere I’ve wanted to go ever since starting to learn about German literature. It was one of my favourite days so far, and I can’t wait to go back!
We went for a tour of all the famous places in the town, including the main squares and the bridge. We were shown some parts of the university as well, which gave me utter university envy! A highlight was definitely seeing a hotel where Goethe stayed.
After the town tour, we had a tour of the castle! For the past few weeks I’ve been saying that castles ‘are so much better and more impressive back home’ which was definitely not the case in Heidelberg. It’s much larger than I expected and very beautiful. The pharmacy museum is interesting but a bit creepy! And by far the best part was seeing the largest wine barrel in the world: when it was made, it could hold 221,726 litres of wine!
I feel that I’m getting to know Mainz a bit better too. I’m getting to know my way around the city, and I’m really enjoying walking along the Rhine in my spare time. Although living in student accommodation is amazing because I’m surrounded by friends, I think it’s important to get away from university life once in a while!
I finally enrolled in classes this week, so I can now say that I’m a registered student here! My timetable is very different to what I’m used to: here, it’s normal to have classes as early as 8am and as late as 6pm. I’m enjoying the reading, however, and my seminars are really interesting.
I’m now midway through my third week in Mainz! It’s already going too fast. Lectures started this week, but I’ve really been making the most of my Erasmus opportunities here.
Last week I signed up for the buddy programme and met my buddy to start a language tandem. It’s pretty intense but very helpful, and has been a great way to meet some people from the Mainz/Wiesbaden area.
A highlight last Wednesday was the Language Cafe, another opportunity to meet Germans rather than just Erasmus students. I really enjoyed finally speaking the language with some Germans, although it was a lot more tiring than I expected!
Last weekend, I went on my first Erasmus trip, my first time out of Mainz since arriving here. We had a tour around a castle (it was pretty, but nothing compared to castles in the UK!) and walked to the Lorelay monument. It was lovely to see some real nature again – and I was so happy to see some hills and walk up a slope! I’m so glad to have seen the lorelay rock and the monument, because I’ve studied the poem. For me, this year is going to be all about experiencing the things I’ve read about.