We left for Berlin this morning, being pelted by heavy rains. The closer we got, however, the more the weather improved. Along the way, we stopped at the old East West order crossing at Marienborn. Perhaps nothing epitomised the Cold War and the division of Europe better than this location, the “iron curtain.”
Museumsdorf Cloppenburg, an open-air museum near Löningen, documents rural life in the 18th and 19th century in northwestern Germany. The founders, beginning in the 1930’s, dismantled these old structures before they were lost to time, relocating and rebuilding them on their present site. Life was very hard for most – not enough food, too much disease, and very high mortality rate. Only the land owners, the rich few, had enough land to make ends meet. The others had few good options – try to survive, marry well, or go to America. We were able to make connections to our experience at the Auswandererhaus in Bremerhaven.
We left on Friday morning, 8:00 am, for a college visit in Oldenburg. We spent most of the day with our German partners attending lectures, presentations, and information sessions for those interested in attending this recognized university. We arrived back at Copernicus Gymnasium at about 3:00 o’clock and saddled up for our 25-kilometer bike ride through the villages and countryside. It all culminated in a wonderful cook-out at the home of the Albers Family. What a great day!
We had the official welcome at school this morning. Lots of smiles and lots of applause! Each of our students stood up and introduced him or herself in German and added a couple of “fun facts.“ So…, public speaking in another country in another language…,kind of makes the senior speech look easy! You can see more here:
We spent the day in Bremerhaven and Bremen. Bremerhaven is the site of the emigration museum. Over 7 million Europeans (most of them Germans) emigrated to the Americas from Bremen. The museum gives the visitor a feeling for what that experience might have felt like. After Bremerhaven, we spent the afternoon in Bremen, a member city of the Hanseatic League, an organization of cities that fostered trade and helped bring the Middle Ages to an end in northern Germany.
It’s been a long day(s) of travel, but everyone held up just fine. Here we are with our welcoming party in Löningen, and it’s a beautiful day!
During our final day in Rothenberg we first went to a medieval torture museum and learned about some of the unreasonable punishments for what seemed like minor crimes. We then went to a church and had some free time to explore the city which was filled with souvenir shops and a typical german sweet called a schneeball which means snowball. Although they looked cool, I think most of the American would agree though that they are not worth the hype, and that there was a reason they didn’t make it far out of Rothenberg. We then went on a hike as a group led by Herr Mogen. Being his first time on the exchange, we got a little turned around and had to take an unlikely path down the mountain. The way was very steep and many of the girls decided it would be more efficient to just sit and slide down because we were slipping so much while walking normally. We also had to use Herr Mogen’s arm as a railing and I think some people were holding on for what felt like dear life. Although it wasn’t ideal, it ended up being lots of fun and I think it was more memorable than the easy path would have been.
~ Mariann Kazakis