Tomorrow is Fronleichnam (Corpus Christi), and as such, we poor stressed out students are given the day off from Uni! Giving us a nice little break during the middle of the week, and a well earned day off – or at least an opportunity to catch up on a little overdue homework or reading. Or maybe just the chance to go down to the Rhine and relax with friends, either way… the Summer Semester is full of one day holidays and random protests (preventing us from going to uni – as an example, when the public transportation strikes… very difficult to get around then). Just this weekend there was a great protest/party in the city – Night-Dance-Demo, in english – this was 500-600 people literally dancing their way through the old part of town with three large trucks carrying suspended mixing tables and a slew of dj’s to entertain the crowds. Definitely one of the most interesting ways of taking an issue (literally) to the streets. It was so bizarre watching hundreds of people with live music dancing through the city – past buildings that are hundreds of years old, past statues of Johannes Gutenberg and Friedrich Schiller – juxtaposition if I have ever seen it!
In addition to my regular university courses I have been auditing a few courses this semester (I can’t enroll in them for credit as I lack some serious prereqs, BUT I am here to learn, so that is what I am going to do!). One of the absolutely most interesting of them is Exchange Rates and International Capital Markets, the professor works in Swiss Finance and is just a wealth of information, especially considering Germany’s role in the current Euro Zone economic troubles. The professor knows his material, and tries to represent as balanced a view of world Capital Markets as possible. Even though I am not taking the ‘Klausur’ (the exam), but I have definitely been trying to learn as much from this course as possible. Like last semester I have been really focusing on my German and taking a lot of courses about the language and the german literature – I have been trying to take advantage of every possible opportunity to learn the language while i am here. I do an English-German Tandem with a friend of mine, I live in a German-speaking WG (Wohngemeinschaft – apartment), and I am taking a courses about the language, that I simply can’t take back in Louisville. I had signed up to take ‘Business German’ (Wirtsschaftswissenschaftsdeutsch), but the course was unfortunately canceled after 3 sessions due to lack of interest. I did manage to get into ‘Scientific German,’ which has been unbelievably helpful.
I have been learning a great deal from my job in the International Office – just like last semester – but this semester I feel that my German has really gotten to the level that I can talk to the people I work with at a mature and appropriate level. Just yesterday my boss and I spoke about the events unfolding with Israel and the humanitarian aid ships, which has certainly taken a lot of people’s minds and discussions off of the European financial crisis, at least for a little while. I am still translating documents and preparing an online portal for all the new exchange students, like last semester, but I would gladly do it for free just for the experience! I can not describe how great of an experience it has been working in a German office, even if it is only one or two times a week. You can read all about how an office should work, and how you are supposed to act in intercultural situations, but to actually work in one… that is something totally different, something totally unique. Definitely making my experience here worth it in my mind, without a doubt!