Until Next Time

After 43 days, 16 packs of gum, and over 250 miles of walking (in a boot I might add), it’s almost time to make our way back to Calvin.If you’ve read my previous blog post about my first impression of  Berlin, you’ll know that I was slightly unimpressed with my first glimpses of the city. Now, here we are 6 weeks later, and I never want to leave. Sure, at first Germany didn’t exactly take my breath away, but after 6 weeks here, Germany has stolen a piece of my heart.  Continue reading “Until Next Time”

Cathedral

 The photo above was captured as I stood in front of the Köln Cathedral for the first time. I was speechless-which, if you ask anyone on the trip, is a state I rarely find myself in.

I had just hopped off the train and was complaining to Chinelo about the terrible young boys and their constant yelling “I said a boom-chick-a-boom” I had to share a car with. Turns out, middle school boys are annoying in every country and every language. But as my eyes adjusted to the sunlight and I turned my head to see the Cathedral, I stopped mid-sentence and marveled in the beauty of the building.

As we worshiped in the Cathedral the next morning I liked the reverence that was displayed throughout the service. They fully acknowledged that God is holy. It differed from my home church in that it lacked the personal aspect of the Christian faith. I felt that it was more about tradition and regulations than about a one-on-one relationship with Jesus.

As we left the service, there were tons people flooding into the sanctuary. It was interesting to see tourists from all over the world, snapping pictures, amazed by the massiveness and the detail of the beautiful church.

 

Fun in Germany

Germany was a blast. The one thing that stood out to me was that our group saw more of Germany than most Germans see of Germany. That really stood out to me. We took day trips to major cities. My favorite was Bremen. It’s a major port city in northern Germany and while we were there we were able to see the really old part of town where the streets are narrower at the top then they are at the bottom and with no planning to where roads go. It was super cool and old, and Bremen was probably my favorite city. We took a train ride to the western side of Germany and it remainded me of Michigan or northern Indiana. We went to Hidalburg and saw the castle there and it has the largest cast in the world. At the end we had the opertunity to go and visit other parts of Europe and a friend and I went to Belgium. In Brussels they have A part that is still somewhat set up from the worlds fair and that was really cool. They have a lot of old buildings and a place called mini Europe where they have massive monuments, but in quarter scale, allowing us to see more of Europe than we could otherwise. The trip as a whole was awsome.

Reflections on Cologne

I was shocked several yards out of the train station after mid-conversation with a friend I glanced up and saw the towering cathedral.  The service itself was, of course, impossible to comprehend.  I gave my best shot at singing along with the hymns, but even that was a crap shoot.   It’s not hard to understand why so many tourists visit the church; I’ve seen dozens of great houses of worship this summer, and this one ranked near the top.  It is unfortunate that so many stunning churches are treated as shrines for the dead and museums for the living instead of places for worship and education for congregants.

Exploring the city at night was a blast, and I had some of my most memorable experiences of the trip in that city.  But again, the city itself is not the cause of that, it was the people I was with and the conversations we had.

How was Germany?

Most of my experience in Germany was defined by those I spent time around.  That is to say that my experience was defined by 40-odd Calvin students.  I can’t say much about the German people or culture given that I spoke with only a handful of actual Germans.  Add this to the fact that most of our time was spent in the very international, secular city of Berlin and I was left with an experience that is akin to living with a bunch of Calvin classmates surrounded by the sounds of the German language.  The culture would be better defined by our experiences in other smaller German cities that are maybe less severely defined by WWII and the Cold War.