October 25, 2011
While I was unsure of what to expect during my week at SRH Heidelberg, I greatly enjoyed my experience. My course helped me better understand planning that goes into construction and business projects that I otherwise may have glanced over. With my interest in business law, this insight will help me better assist future businesses I counsel. Besides my courses, the cultural aspects of the trip through the tours and people I met gave me a new view on how different cultures and people view the world - again, very useful for anyone with an interest in business. Even without set expectations, I left Germany feeling the overall experience was extremely beneficial to my legal education.
October 23, 2011
Was a whirlwind tour of Europe in the middle of a semester of law school worth it? Most certainly yes. It is odd to think that all that is really necessary to cure 3L-itis is a 10,000 mile round trip adventure to a country on a different continent. I had a good time and have learned things that will hopefully serve me well in the future.
If I had to go back and do one thing differently before going on the trip, it would be learning much more German. My random knowledge of verbs and nouns remembered from a German class I took nearly a decade ago was not enough. Almost everyone spoke English in Germany, but it would have been a richer experience if I had greater knowledge of the language.
Overall Impressions of the Course
I am happy I was able to take part in this course. The opportunity to learn another culture and to interact with another culture's students is an experience I would not be able to come close to by sitting in a traditional classroom. Overall, the course was better than expected, and I hope the school continues to offer a similar opportunity.
Final Thoughts on Germany
The trip to Germany was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I got a chance to interact with people from another country, and found out that the German people are very gracious and friendly. Although my class was not related to the law, it was a great opportunity to work on a group project with people coming at the same problem from different perspectives. The best part of the trip for me, however, was getting to know my host and his family. I came away from my trip to Germany with the feeling that I now have friends and a place to stay there. Oh yeah, the food and beer was pretty good too (not sure if I mentioned that in my previous blog entries).
October 20, 2011
Overall, I had a fantastic time in Germany, and I would do the whole trip again in a heartbeat. I gained legal, cultural, and historical knowledge that I never would have gained sitting in a classroom in Carbondale. I highly recommend that everyone apply for the trip again next year, if it is offered. The experience is invaluable.
October 18, 2011
Days 7 & 8 - Saturday/Sunday
Our hosts took us to a few bars Friday night, which was a lot of fun. I was really surprised to hear American rock music being exclusively played in one of the bars, and distinctly remember rocking out to "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison. I also had to bust out some of my dance moves at a club we went to, thereby impressing all onlookers. The next day we had to wake up early to catch our train to Nuremberg. Once there, we went on a guided tour that included the part of the city known as "Old Town," which dates back hundreds of years and includes a castle built on the hill overlooking the city, similar to Heidelberg. Our guide was originally from Illinois and was very knowledgeable about the area, which made for a good tour. We then got to see the old Nazi parade grounds and the courtroom where the Nazi trials were held after WWII. It was amazing to stand in places where such major events in world history had taken place, and again the tours we received were excellent. After relaxing for a bit, a few of us spent some time at a small bar in Nuremberg and conversed with some local patrons. Sunday was spent waking up, eating breakfast, and traveling for what seemed like forever to get back to Carbondale.
More Germany Pictures
Friday Oct. 14 and Saturday Oct 15
Unfortunately, I am making this blog post from Carbondale. I wish I was still in Germany. The last couple of days were amazing, and this is the first time I've had the time to write something.
Friday morning we had to do a final presentation for our course. I was paired with two German students, and we had to do a presentation to a fictitious CEO of a corporation that suspected a couple of its employees had bribed public officials in different countries. We had to inform the CEO of how we would conduct our investigation of the corporation, who might be liable for what and under what country's laws, and what challenges we would face in doing an international investigation that involved numerous countries.
Friday evening we went out to eat in Heidelberg for the last time with all of our hosts. We then went out, disregarding the fact that we had to leave Heidelberg before 7 a.m. the next morning. It was well worth it, because I was lucky enough to get to experience Brian's dance moves.
Saturday morning we took a train to Nuremberg. Once we arrived there, we went on a tour of the city. We got to see the Nazi parade grounds and the Nuremberg courthouse, where the Nazi's were tried after the war. It was extremely interesting, especially as a law student. After almost an entire day of tours, Neil, Brian, and I decided to experience the Nuremberg nightlife. We found a quaint little pub and had a great time. Unfortunately, Brian's dance moves didn't make an appearance, but he did manage to get us lost on our way back to the hotel. A perfect end to a perfect trip.
October 17, 2011
Scenes and Sausageability
Friday saw the last day of SRH International Week. While the majority of people gave 5 minute presentations for the “examinations,” my professor decided an hour and a half exam consisting of multiple choice and essays was a better idea. I’m pretty sure I did rather terrible, but I was told that nobody failed. Crisis averted.
I spent most of Friday wandering the city streets. A long trek up the hillside called “Philospher’s Walk” proved tiring, but the view was amazing. It overlooked the city from the opposite bank of the Nekar River (Heidelberg’s River). And on just the other side of the hill’s crest was a Nazi-era outdoor amphitheater. It was a massive stone monument that was definitely impressive and created a sense of Roman-connection.
As it was our last night in the city, my host Daniel took us to a nice restaurant. I enjoyed a fancy 1-liter of Heidelberger beer and a roasted pork leg. Insanely delicious. From dinner we went to different hot spots suggested by Daniel. Not sure if it was a good idea, but I managed to make a fool of myself only slightly.
Saturday began our long day at Nuremberg. We started with a train ride, where I *did* manage to make all my connections, albeit with some sprinting.
Nuremberg was incredibly beautiful. The old city, especially the wall and castle, was nearly untouched from the war and offered a great impression of what life in old-Germany was like. Real Lord of the Rings-esque stuff. We all got to enjoy some traditional Nuremberg sausages and kraut for lunch, then headed off to the parade grounds and the Hall of Justice where the tribunals occurred.
The parade grounds are mostly destroyed now and it’s an open field where young families can have picnics. There are pictures available to offer an idea of what the Nazi parades were like, and they definitely were manufactured to give an ominous sense of strength.
Our tour of the tribunals were equally impressive. While listening to the tour guide was like a recap of my International Criminal Law class (not a bad thing), sitting in the court room where the leaders were tried was awe-inspiring, to say the least.
Although exhausted and now on our own, the SIU students tried to tour the city as best we could. We managed to come across an “Occupy Nuremberg” group.
Brian, Katie, and I went out that night and eventually wound up at a hole-in-the-wall pub filled with locals. Although it was a low-key evening, we all enjoyed ourselves before retiring.
My eight-hour flight was just amazing. Some girl with a Chihuahua and a large Frankish woman sat next to me. I really enjoyed the dog’s yipping and when the Frankish woman spilled her sausages and mustard onto the floor upon sitting down. This meant I was able to enjoy the smell of sausages for the entire flight. Some guy in front of me even shoved his chair as far into my knees as possible at the start of the flight and never put his chair upright until we began our descent. Great times!
When we touched down I had to remind myself consistently “Don’t joke around with Customs agents. Don’t joke around with Customs agents…” I did not, and made it officially back into the US. Although I regretted not being able to stay in Germany longer, I was happy to be home.
The crew and I are currently flying from Frankfurt, Germany to Washington, D.C. This will be one of the longest days I’ve ever experienced, with over 18 hours of sunlight.
This morning was my first day having a German breakfast. I had a stack of meats, delicious cheeses, and several different dense, dark breads.
Our trip to Nürnberg, which is in Bavaria, was one of the best things about the trip. We arrived in the city in the morning and went on a tour in English given by a fellow Midwesterner living in Germany. The first part of the tour consisted of walking through the part of the city enclosed by the medieval city walls. As a law student with a degree in history, the amount of pleasure I derived from the tour was probably pretty sickening to the other students. It was fascinating to the see the old castle, the keeps, the old town hall, and even the slaughterhouse.
For the second part of the tour, we took a bus to the more modern part of the city and saw the rally grounds of the Nazi party. The Nazis had selected Nürnberg as its party headquarters because it is steeped in so much history. The long and historic traditions of Nürnberg were supposed to lend credence to what was really a very radical movement. At the parade grounds, we stood in the place where thousands of Nazis gathered to salute the Führer in the 1930s. Now, there are people playing Frisbee and walking their toy poodles in the exact same place. What a difference only seventy years can make.
After the tour we went to the Palace of Justice of Nürnberg where the Nazis were tried for causing the death of 26 million people. It was thrilling to stand in the same place they stood.
October 16, 2011
Blog for Thursday, October 13
Hannah’s family took me out to eat at the Schnack Punkt. The restaurant advertises it has “Deutsche Küche von XXS über total normale Portionen bis zu XXL fur den groβen Hunger.” “German cooking from size extra, extra small for persons with normal appetites to extra, extra large for persons with big hunger.” I opted to get an XXS jägerschnitzel and a bowl of pumpkin soup. I also tried the regional beverage, apfelwein, which tastes like really vinegary apple juice.
On Thursday we took a tour on the Neckar River. Wednesday was also the first sunny day of the trip. The view from the river was amazing. I have finally seen a real castle. The castle was last occupied in 1600. It is partially ruined, but it is being restored.
Blog for Friday, October 14
On Friday we took our class final. The task was to prepare a group presentation in two hours and then present it to our professors as a group. Getting a Dane, a German, and an American to work together in any sort of efficient way is a difficult task. Apparently, the team-work styles in these cultures are very different. The professors had mentioned previously, in the construct-a-cube-exercise, that my form of commanding others (“Can you do this” or “Will you this”) does not come across as a command and thus makes me very unpersuasive. However, we managed to construct what our professors thought was an informative presentation on the differences between American and British business styles and Chinese businessmen in Sub-Saharan Africa.
After our exam, Brian, Neil, Professor Dervan and I traveled into town, but then went our separate ways. I walked to the rathaus and explored some of the side streets of the old town.
Later that afternoon, the Professor, Neil, and I headed up to the Philosopher’s Walk, a 5 kilometer mountain trail that terminates at an amphitheater built by the Nazis.
On Friday, my class gave final presentations for the exam. I was teamed up with two German students, and we gave a presentation to a corporation who was facing potential criminal liability and searching for information on internal investigations. Afterwards I rode the tram into town and walked around Heidelberg to pick up some last minute souvenirs.
Today was by far my favorite! We spent the day touring Nuremberg. First we took a tour of the city and the castle. Then, we toured the old Nazi parade grounds and the courthouse where the Nazis were tried. It was very sobering. Overall, this was an amazing experience. Nuremberg is beautiful and I wish we had more than one day here.
October 14, 2011
More Germany Trip Pictures
Day 6 - Friday
Last night, after dinner, we spent a few hours playing poker while enjoying some delicious German beer. Today, my group gave our final presentation in class, which was well-received by our professor. After exchanging some contact info with some of my classmates, one of my group's members, Nils, and I went to grab some lunch and a beer. Dirk, Professor Dervan, Allison, Neil, and I then went to the city to finish our shopping, where we bumped into Angela, who was also shopping. I purchased two awesome steins, among other things. Dirk's parents have already given me three beer glasses and four bottles of beer to bring back, so I might be forced to improvise as I pack. I will be joining Dirk and his friends for dinner in Speyer tonight, after which we will head back to Heidelberg to meet up with the rest of the SIU crew. For those of you back in the US viewing the pictures of us here, I hope you all appreciate the fact that I'm reppin the U of I (and Miller Lite). I passed a guy on the street the other day who gave me a "Go Illini," proof that the school has a great global presence. Tomorrow morning Dirk's entire family will take me to the train station, where we will depart Heidelberg and head to Nuremberg for a day. This may be my last entry on the blog, so I'll see everyone when I'm back in Carbondale.
October 13, 2011
Today was the last day of class, and tomorrow our groups give final presentations. I’m in a group with two German students – one studying law and one studying business. They both have unique perspectives. The project requires that each group pretend to be a law firm giving a presentation to the CEO of a multinational corporation who is looking for outside counsel to conduct an internal investigation. The German students have different considerations for conducting the investigation and are explaining several aspects of German and European law to me. Similarly, I’m able to explain to them privilege, employee interviews, etc., in the United States.
We had the option to go on a cruise of the Neckar River. I declined, however, and took a much-needed nap. I’m now in my room and will spend the evening catching up on homework. I’m looking forward to going downtown tomorrow afternoon, and searching for a souvenir for my daughter. I have been able to call home and talk to my daughter every night. She is almost three. I have never been away from my daughter for this long, and that has been the hardest part of the trip.
October 13, 2011
Thursday Oct. 13
Today has been a great day. This morning I had my course. We discussed how to do internal investigations of corporations, and how difficult it can be to do an international one. All of the different laws in each country create a huge hassle. For example, under the EU Commission rules, the attorney-client privilege only applies to external law firms. If you did not know that and started interviewing employees as an internal attorney, you would not have privilege. Another example Professor Dervan gave us is that China has a law where you cannot bring certain documents out of their country. An employee did this once, not knowing about the law, and was sentenced to prison for seven years. Thus, this information is vital and can definitely be tricky.
After class, we had a boat tour on the Necker river. It was nice to get to see all of the fancy houses that lined the banks of the river.
For dinner I went out to eat with some German relatives I have. I had been looking forward to this dinner the entire time I've been in Germany. They are the relatives of my German aunt, but to me, they're family. Almost every time I've been to Germany before, I have stayed at their house. They are the nicest people I know, and it was so good to see them. It had been over two years since I had seen them last. They took me to a steak house, which was absolutely delicious. I know I should be taking in as much German food as I can while I am here, but it was probably one of the best steaks I've ever had. Now I am in a food coma and my bed is calling my name...
Day 5 - Thursday
What a day. Class was spent finishing up our powerpoint presentation for tomorrow and then discussing everyone's plans for the night. One of the German professors complimented me on my German today, which was awesome, even though I was only saying "danke.". We went on a boat tour today after class, and I got some great pictures of Heidelberg. After the tour, Dirk, his wife, and I went to the cathedral in Speyer. It was one of the most amazing places I have ever seen, and one of the biggest cathedrals in Germany. I lit a candle in prayer, took a few pictures, and then went down into the "Tombs of the Emperors." The extremely old artwork and tombs were incredible, with a history dating back over a thousand years. I am hoping to have time to go back tomorrow and take more pictures. We also went to visit Dirk's cousin and her two daughters, who live in Mannheim. While leaving, one of the little girls presented me with a present of two juiceboxes and two oranges, which I graciously accepted. And now to the best part.....the food (again). Dirk's mother made an authentic regional meal, consisting of bratwurst, German mashed potatoes with onion gravy, homemade sauerkraut, pork stomach, and liver dumplings. Beer and liquor were also served. This was one of the best meals I've ever had, and I literally just ate and drank until I could do no more damage. I'm getting the feeling that I'm really going to miss being here, and not just because of the food. I've suggested to Dirk that he go back to the USA in my place so I can stay and eat here for an extended period of time. Thoughts???
P.S. Be on the lookout for a Facebook page being made in my honor by a certain student who was too tired to go on the boat tour (hint: it's Angela R.; no that's too obvious; it's A. Rollins)
Germany is an amazing place. I wish I had time to explore the whole country. The people have been kind and welcoming. My host family is taking me to dinner later tonight.
Yesterday my intercultural management class worked through a set of scenarios. The students were to determine what the actors did wrong and how they should have behaved in the cultural context they were in. One of the scenarios involved an American working in Spain. The American was invited to a barbeque at his boss’s home. The party was at noon on a Sunday. Our instructors asked us: What is appropriate to wear to the party? What time should the guests arrive? What should the guest bring, if anything? Not knowing enough about Spain, I simply offered what I would have done at home. My answer was that the man should wear casual weekend clothes, that he should arrive 15-20 minutes after the date on the invitation, and that he should not bring anything because the invitation does not explicitly say to do so. From the looks of the other students and the professors, I learned that I might have a hard time conducting business with Europeans and I have a lot of learning to do if I ever hope to do so. Europe is far different than the two places I have lived and worked—the Midwest and Hawaii, where overdressing is more embarrassing than underdressing and arriving at a party at the exact time listed on the invitation means you will be left trying to stay out of the way while the host prepares for the party. I am now slightly paranoid about offending people due to my lack of formality and am trying my best to be on time.
Last night we took the greatest factory tour of all time at the Eichbaum Brewery in Mannheim. The brewery was founded in 1669 and probably has a fascinating history. However, the tour was more about eating and drinking than learning the history of the company or the fine points of the fermentation process. With that being said, the beer was delicious.
Law 608 Germany Trip Pictures
'Realpolitik' Doesn't Make For Good Small Talk
Okay, time to play catch up. My classes have been rather similar everyday. Not a bad thing and it allows me to explain quickly.
All of my classmates are German students from SRH Heidelberg (the host school), and all of them know each other from their major “Economic Engineering.” I still have no idea what that means. Their explanation: “It’s like economics with engineering.” Danke-freakin-schön, Hans.
The classes generally discuss how anything occurring is systemic, thus affecting everything around. When building a new highway/ring road/power plant, one must plan for all sorts of possibilities and have solutions ready. After 1 hour or lectures, we break into groups and flow chart out hypothetical situations and their connections. That’s mostly it. Similar to that whole “thinking like a lawyer” thing, but with a green-earth sustainability mindset. Also, the German students were also unaware of the class’s topic before it began.
Tuesday evening we were able to tour Heidelberg castle. The castle was destroyed by the dastardly French in the 17th century or something like that, so it has a very neat look to it. Most importantly, I had a lengthy discussion with our tour guide about the wonders or döner kebap.
My exhaustion got the best of me Tuesday, so I went right to bed after the tour and some kebap with my host.
Wednesday was interesting. After classes Brian and I went to the town with his host. We managed to misjudge the time and missed the bus to the brewery. Our lateness was not very german to the school’s schedule. Luckily we made it out, only slightly late.
The brewmaster was Henry Kissinger. I wanted to walk up to him and say in a deep monotone, “Mr. Beer Ambassador. My people have a similar story of the malts and the hops. . . .” As Angela stated, more of short tour with more eating and drinking. Sweet heavenly ham loaf and amazing half liters of wheat beer.
The Americans then left in the car they came in and Brian left with his host. I was to take the bus back with the Germans and Danes. One problem: the bus was filled and the driver would not allow me to sit three to a row. Even worse, the brewery was closed so I couldn’t stay there. So I was stuck in Mannheim for an extra 30 minutes with nothing to do, staring at passing cars and longing for more ham loaf.
I did make it back eventually and went directly to a party the school was hosting at its café/bar. I took a shower in Old Spice and was prepared to meet new people.
A few (or more) rejections on an international scale later and I was back with the SIU crew. The night went long for my host and I, but it was still very fun. Lots of good people around.
Thursday found me rushing to class late due to the prior night, but British profs were understanding. This preceded a relaxing river cruise on the Neckar River where we witnessed some of the natural beauty of the Rhine. To no avail I tried asking Allison’s host as flirtatiously as I could about different sites in the region. Though a Heidelberg native she knew as much as I did. No worries. The afternoon was nearly blemished when I almost got in a fight with a duck, staring at me with its beady eyes and awkward feet. Lucky for it, it ran away and I was able to enjoy the remainder of the day.
October 12, 2011
Class was interesting again today. I particularly enjoyed hearing the German students’ reaction to the Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador that was publicized last night. After class today we went shopping downtown. The downtown area is very nice, with lots of old German buildings and streets. There were mainly German businesses, but there were U.S. businesses as well, including Claire’s, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s (of course), Starbucks and Fossil. My favorite store was a Christmas store where I was able to buy some gifts for my family.
We then went for a tour of the Eichbaum Brewery in Mannheim. This was more like a short tour, and several hours of eating and drinking. The food seemed like it was authentic German food, and was delicious. It is surprisingly hard to find German food here. It seems more like the U.S. in that they have every other culture’s food available - Chinese, Thai, etc. Of course the beer was great as well.
I’m having a better time than expected!! Loving Germany!
Last night was my host’s birthday party and I was invited to participate in the celebration. I met Hannah’s grandparents, cousins, and friends. I used my meager German to discuss Weinnachtsmann (Santa Claus) and geschenke (presents) with Hannah’s seven year old cousin. With the adults, I tried to offer polite phrases and sprinkle as much German into my speech as possible. There were lots of “Danke schöns” and “entschuldigungs”. My German is slowly improving.
Our class met for three sessions yesterday. We discussed techniques for communicating across languages in the business setting and how difficult it can be. To top off our session, we played a management game. I was selected as manager for my group and had to instruct my group, my “employees”, to build a cube out of three pieces of construction paper. The catch was that each of my employees followed a different set of rules imposed on them by the course instructors. Thus, it was as if each employee possessed cultural taboos that I, as the foreign manager, was completely ignorant of. Though I quickly learned what taboos my employees adhered to, we failed miserably thanks to my inability to understand how to construct a cube out of three pieces of construction paper. Apparently, a lot of children learn how to do this in school in Europe and according to our professors “everybody knows how to do it by the end of primary school.”
At lunch I met up with the American students and one German student who befriended our small group. I discovered that Apfelkraut, apples with red sour kraut, is very good.
October 12, 2011
Day 4 - Wednesday
Class today was hilarious. Since we were working in groups, I was much more entertained in class today than I have been the last two days. My group almost finished our powerpont, so we won't have much to do tomorrow. After class and some sightseeing, we went on the brewery tour. Neil and I missed the bus, so we missed most of the Henry Kissinger-led introduction, but the beer and food we had was very good, and nobody said anything about the Miller Lite hat I was wearing. Nobody on the tour died of dysentery, but I learned that some law school classes are more interesting than others. After the "tour," Dirk and I went out and met some more locals and enjoyed some fine local beer. More class and the river tour awaits tomorrow. Until then.....
Wednesday Oct. 12
Wednesday morning we had class from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Professor Dervan discussed different types of crimes that fall into the white collar crime category. He gave us different examples of the crimes, both domestically and internationally. We also discussed whether or not a corporation can be held criminally liable, also domestically and internationally. In Germany, a corporation cannot be held criminally liable, it can only be charged civilly.
After class, Angela, Allison, and I went to downtown Heidelberg to do some souvenir shopping before our brewery tour. They had some really neat shops, including a Christmas store. We then went on a tour of the Eichbaum Brewery in Mannheim. I am not a beer fan, so I can't tell you how the beer was.
I just got back home from the brewery and am now getting ready to go to a party at the university. Thus, I will talk to you all soon.
October 11, 2011
Monday Oct. 10 - Tuesday Oct. 11
Monday morning we had to meet at the university to register for international week. Once we registered for our course and the excursions for the week, there was an introduction of all of the instructors. The instructors come from all over the world – China, Denmark, England, Hungary, Australia, etc. Next, our course met for a short meeting. The course I signed up for is International White Collar crime, which is being taught by Dean Fountaine and Professor Dervan. Aside from Angela and me, the rest of the students in the course are German.
Next, there was a keynote speaker that talked about psychology. His lecture focused on how you will live longer if you don’t have as much stress in your life. It was strange to have this type of speaker at this type of event, but I found it to be very interesting. Afterwards, we went to the Cube to have lunch.
We then went back to the university where all of the different groups of students had to do an introduction of themselves. Just like the instructors, the students came from all over the world. We were then awarded with a ‘sweet surprise’, which ended up being a whole lot of German candy. It was delicious.
Later that night we took the tram to downtown Heidelberg. We met up with a few other students that were participating in international week. They were from Germany, Hungary, and Finland. We had a great time mingling and experiencing the German nightlife.
Tuesday morning we attended our course. Since all of the other students in my course are German, it is very interesting because we are able to compare and contrast our different legal systems. I found out that they only have one criminal law system in Germany, where we have two in the United States – the state and federal. There is no double jeopardy in Germany, and you can be tried for the same crime twice if new evidence surfaces. While plea bargaining is extremely popular in the U.S. – Professor Dervan said that 95% of U.S. cases are plea bargained before going to trial – there is no plea bargaining in Germany. These are just a few of the differences between the two criminal legal systems.
While conversing with different students that attend SRH Heidelberg, I was able to kind of figure out how their educational system works. Most students that want to practice law in Germany first get their bachelor’s of law, which is a two year program, and then get their master‘s of law, which is a three year program. However, these students will never be licensed attorneys. They cannot represent a client in court, but they can consult with clients and corporations. In order to be a licensed attorney, there is an eight year program. Apparently a lot of them do not take that route because the pass rate for the state exam they have to take, which I assume is similar to the bar exam, is only about 50%.
After a morning full of class, we then had a tour of Heidelberg. We had an excellent tour guide that was able to explain the history of Heidelberg in great detail. She took us to different significant places, as well as through a famous castle in Heidelberg. The castle sits right above the city, and most of it has been ruined.
Yesterday we got started with our classes at SRH Heidelberg. I began my day at Hannah’s and finally arrived in Heidelberg from Hemsbach after my long struggle on the autobahn (see my previous post). In the morning, we introduced ourselves to some of the other students and were officially greeted by the Heidelberg staff and faculty. At lunch, I had my first trip to the mensa, the cafeteria, and ate a satisfying combination of Greek, American, and German foods.
After lunch, I attended my first class session. I am taking a course in intercultural management. The focus of the class is learning to communicate ideas across cultures in business settings. I am the only American student in the class. The rest of the participants are Europeans. There are five Germans, two Danes, one Greek, one Turk, and one Hungarian. We have two Professors, one is French and one is Flemish. As a non-European, I am constantly expected to contribute my “unique American perspective”. As an American who has never before left the United States except to go to Canada, the class has been eye opening. I never considered how odd America is culturally. America is a gigantic, relatively culturally homogenous place. Yet, it is still ethnically and racially diverse. In the U.S., a person can travel thousands of miles and still hear the same language, see the same restaurants, and accept the governance of the same national government. To a large extent, I have taken this for granted. I understand the U.S. has very real and important regional, racial, and linguistic differences. However, these differences can usually be bridged without spending years learning another language. Although we have a multitude of American English dialects, they are at least mutually intelligible. Europe, in contrast, contains countries such as Belgium which is 1/5 the size of Illinois, with inhabitants speaking three major languages and cleaving to two very separate national identities—Walloon and Flemish.
After our classes were finished for the day, we were presented with a cake by the staff of SRH Heidelberg. The cake was a mountain of gummy bears, chocolate, and marshmallows. The cake was square-shaped and each corner was guarded by a large gummy snake wrapped around an Italian soda. It was surreal and extremely delicious. Filled to the brim with a ridiculous amount of sugar, the other American students and I strolled through Heidelberg for several hours before I finally made it back to Hannah’s house.
Legendary Historical Underpinnings or Things Rather Similar
Well. I am pooped.
I caught up on sleep Sunday night but somehow managed to regain my exhaustion.
My host, Daniel, works for SRH Heidelberg so we left together early Monday to register for my courses. It was a quick drive - only 10 minutes from his apartment. It was too soon for me to sign-in when we arrived so Daniel gave me a quick tour of the school. Very fancy and modern. Some offices even have neat glass walls. Fancy indeed.
I then went back to the check-in line, now being occupied by Danes (#occupyeverthing). My preferred course was filled, so I was given my second option, “Sustainability Trends.” I wasn’t given any materials before the trip, and I had honestly forgot what the course covered. The roster included one student from the US (me), and thirteen from Germany.
I chugged a quick cappuccino, listened to some random lecture about heart/brain connections, chugged another cappuccino, and made my way to my classrooms. After the random lecture I had even less of an idea of what my course would cover. I departed my go-up box with nervous excitement.
The British professor entered the classroom being all of 5’7” with a very passive demeanor. He looked at the students and asked, “So, what all do you expect to learn here?” Apparently I would not find out what the course was on from him, either.
After blank stares from the Germans and avoidance from me, he began speaking of the financial situation and the state of the global economy. Starting topics included the World Bank, GATT, and the WTO. Oh yes, and most importantly, the Bilderberg Group (if you are unaware of them, please see wikipedia). Worried about listening to conspiracy theories for the next 2 hours I began eying the exit and pondering my escape.
This was eventually thwarted by my own indolence, yet I soon deciphered that the course covered creating ecologically sound business models, which is very interesting. We discussed basic economic principles and challenges facing humankind and our planet.
After the lecture I met back up with my fellow Americans and listened to representatives from all of the attending countries introduce themselves and discuss their culture. The five SIU students gave a quick run-down of America, complete with the beauty of Southern Illinois and Hulk Hogan to a sitting ovation.
The SIU students were running idle in the afternoon, waiting for our second wind. We decided to make our way to downtown Heidelberg in the evening. We had no real plans, but we managed to enjoy the sites in the city at dusk. Heidelberg castle was just gorgeous.
The only problem, I was thirsty for a mere bottle of water or soda. I drank German bottled water all day, which is normally carbonated and not refreshing. When we arrived near a market we tried to enter but we were yelled at in German by an employee. The shop closed at 6:00, and it was 6:05. No water for me. (side note: being yelled at in German is the most frightening thing ever.)
Eventually, a German student from SRH contacted us and took us out with his friends. He showed us bars that we never would have found on our own and pointed out fun places go.
Although we hadn’t planned on staying out too late, more and more students began arriving from SRH. Each had suggestions of what to try. Although a mixed group of Germans, Finns, and Hungarians, they were all incredibly friendly. It was nice finally to meet with other students outside of the school setting.
The only downside was that I stayed out very late on a Monday night. A full weekend of travelling was followed by a long sleep. A full day of walking, classes, and socializing was followed by a very light sleep. Thus, my bed beckons.
Auf wiedersehen und guten nacht.
Day 3 - Tuesday
I began the day with my class, which deals with the combination of sports and media. I'm practically the only student without a background in sport management or sport marketing, but the class is still very interesting. We broke up into groups for our final project today. My group consists of myself, Nils, who is from Germany, Simon, who is from Denmark, and Roxanne, who is from Belgium. Our project involves composing a marketing plan for an event promoting sporting equipment, which means I'll get to take a complete break from studying law. After class, Professor Dervan and the five of us went on a tour of Heidelberg. We got to see the castle that sits on the hill overlooking the city and the surrounding areas, and I got some really great pictures. I also got some great pictures last night when we travelled to the city where the federal German Supreme Court used to meet until 1969. Once we got back to Dirk's after the tour today, we had another ridiculously amazing dinner, which consisted of Weisenwurst (white sausage) with sweet mustard, cauliflower soup, pretzels, cheese, fruit, and, of course, beer. If anyone reading this post feels jealous about how good that meal sounds, you should be. I'm looking forward to the brewery tour in Mannheim tomorrow.
October 11, 2011
Today was the first day of my International White Collar Crime class. Katie and I are the only U.S. students, and the other students are all German. It was very interesting to hear them compare the U.S. system to the German system. For instance, German criminal sentences are much lighter than U.S. sentences. The German students, however, felt that German sentences were too lenient.
This afternoon we took a tour of Heidelberg and the castle. The castle was amazing! We had a tour guide who had grown up in Heidelberg and had lots of information about the area and the history of the castle. Germany has so much history. The German idea of “old” is much different than ours. For instance, we were told that structures from the 1700s were not that old. They are very proud of their history, and it is all very interesting.
I’m already in love with Germany, and am pretty sure I could live here!
October 8 - 10, 2011
We just arrived in Heidelberg yesterday. This is my first time travelling outside of the United States, and so far I have had a great experience. Our flights and train rides went smoothly, but I am still trying to recover from the time change. The country is beautiful, and I enjoyed the train ride because I was able to see the country.
Today was our first day at SRH Heidelberg University. There are students from several countries including Malaysia, Denmark, Finland, and Hungary. We met and interacted with students from numerous cultures. I am enrolled in the International White Collar Crime class taught by Professor Dervan and Dean Fountaine.
My host became sick, so I am staying in a room by myself at the guesthouse. The room is right on campus and very close to the main building.
I am very excited to experience a new culture and interact with students from other countries. Overall, just look forward to a great week and hopefully recovering from jet lag soon!
Saturday Oct. 8 - Sunday Oct. 9
Our journey began on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. when we all met at the law school to catch our ride to Lambert Airport. After a very long flight and a time change, we finally arrived in Frankfurt, Germany, at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday. We then had to try and figure out how to get to the train station from the airport and figure out which train would get us to Heidelberg, Germany. Lucky for us, almost everyone in Germany speaks English. We eventually figured out where we were supposed to go, and we finally arrived in Heidelberg, Germany around 12:30 p.m. We were greeted at the train station by our hosts, the people we would be living with for the week. We all are living with different people and will be staying in different places. Some of us are living right on campus and some of us are living almost 30 minutes away.
My host is Ceylan. Once we arrived to the train station, I was taken back to her place. She lives on campus in a dorm type apartment. I have my own room, but it is definitely a dorm style room –particularly since there is no kitchen in it. For food, Ceylan said she usually eats at The Cube – an on-campus cafeteria.
At her place, I finally had the chance to take a hot shower after almost 24 hours of travelling. I was greeted by some food she had prepared once I finished my shower. Lunch consisted of chopped up vegetables and some bread and cheese, which was delicious. We then just sat around and got to know each other.
Ceylan is actually 100% Turkish, but has lived in Germany her whole life. Both of her parents moved to Germany when they were teenagers and met while they were over here. Ceylan’s English isn’t the best, but we usually figure out what each other is trying to say. Although this is difficult sometimes, it is very helpful for me trying to learn some German while I am here. If Ceylan doesn’t know the word in English, she will say it in German and then we will try to figure out what she means.
We decided to bring some food to Angela – who is staying by herself in an apartment across the street. Ceylan took the two of us on a tour of the campus. I was surprised by how small the campus actually is. All of the classrooms are in one building – the Blue Tower. Outside of the Blue Tower is a beautiful lawn filled with weeping willows and a pond. On our tour we ran into Neil and decided to walk back to his host’s apartment. He lives a little ways away in small town. It was neat to just walk around and see all the small things that are different here compared to back home. The most notable difference is how cramped everything is over here. All of the houses are built just a couple of feet apart – if that. They are situated right up next to the sidewalk. Another thing I noticed was that they take great pride in their gardens over here. Even though they do not have much room, and most of them do not even have a yard, beautiful flowers are spilling out of almost every balcony.
Around 6 p.m., we had to go back to the campus to meet up with everyone and go to dinner with Dean Fountaine. We went into downtown Heidelberg and ate at a regional German restaurant. I had schweinschnitzel and pommes frites, which was extremely tasty. After eating all of this delicious food and for only sleeping a couple of hours in the last 32, it was becoming a struggle to keep my eyes open. We then all went back to our respective homes for the week, where I instantly passed out.
October 10, 2011
Days 1 & 2 - Sunday/Monday
We landed in Mannheim around 9am, and took two trains to Heidelberg. I met my host, Dirk, who is married and lives with his parents about 30 minutes from Heidelberg. I was a bit worried about being so far from the city, but it vanished as soon as I had my first meal here. Dirk's mother is an amazing cook, and I now fully expect to gain about 20 lbs on this trip. We travelled to a town called Spryrer yesterday to see some sights. Although stores are usually closed on Sunday, yesterday was an "Open Sunday," so the city was busy with people shopping. Spreyer also had some very old buildings, and I was lucky that Dirk was so knowledgable about the history of the town. After that, we had a good meal, along with some great German beer, with our new German friends and Dean Fountaine and her husband.
Tedious Travels & Dinner in Deutschland
After sleeping through my alarm on Saturday morning and making the other students wait 15 minutes for me, we were all off to St. Louis. My plan was to catch up on the sleep I’d been missing on the ride over, but that was not meant to be.
Our driver did not know how to get to St. Louis from Carbondale. Yes, she was a paid-for, honest-to-god, professional driver with no knowledge of this common route.
I mistakenly believed the front seat would be best for napping, but due to these unforeseen circumstances I spent the drive over playing navigator and providing directions. And explaining that we were actually going to the ‘Departures’ area rather than ‘Arrivals.’
But we made it. Lambert to Dulles, Dulles to Frankfurt.
As an aside, just as with our drive to Lamberts, I was unable to catch up on my sleep on our overnight to Frankfurt.
Nothing too interesting on the flight, just cramped legroom and a non-English speaking German sitting next to me who was oddly infatuated with our in-flight movie, Captain America.
I had the chance to enjoy some local flavor after arriving when awaited our train. Naturally I opted for Starbucks. The only problem – all the drink sizes have cute little names in German. As such, “ein kleine cafe latte” didn’t cut it. I still managed to get my needed coffee, so all was well.
Upon arriving in Heidelberg and meeting our hosts, I struggled to stay awake and not let the jetlag/sleep deprivation get the best of me. Six in the evening was my goal; if I could stay awake past 6:00 I would be treated to a local dinner, and then I could go to bed at 7:00.
Lucky for me I succeeded in my task and enjoyed a delicious rump roast with pepper sauce and a satisfying local brew. We had a table for everyone reserved for ’18:00’ and had a cute/spunky looking German server kind enough to provide us with English menus. I’m not sure what I would have done if I would have accidentally ordered lentil soup. Gross.
After ordering lentil soup, I was able to spend a wonderbar evening chatting with the other students’ hosts and relaxing with Dean Fountaine and her husband. After dinner, a brief walk in the light showers through the old town gave us all our first opportunity to see old Heidelberg. Though everything was closed – it was a Sunday night, after all, when most everything in Germany is closed – we were able to enjoy the beauty of the city, with its old-style shop fronts and its classical cobble stone sheets. Then, onward home with my host.
After a brief nightcap with my host, I slipped into my bed and fell fast asleep. A perfect way to end the tiring weekend of travel.
According to my computer, it is 1:04 a.m. Sunday night. But, I am not asleep at home. I am in Germany traveling to my first day at the SRH Heidelberg International Week. It is 8:07 a.m. local time and my German host and I are sitting on the autobahn. An accident has caused a deadlock. I have always suspected (despite what I’ve heard about the autobahn’s first-rate safety record) that traveling at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour can be dangerous.
What a long and amazing journey it has been so far. My four traveling partners and I met early on Saturday morning and spent three hours traveling to the airport and arrived in St. Louis in time (by a little bit) and in one piece (barely). Two very long plane rides and two train rides later, we arrived in Heidelberg in the state of Baden-Württemburg.
Like Americans, Germans live in a federal republic with multiple states. Baden-Württemburg is third largest in both size and population of all the German states. The physical landscape reminds me of the southern part of Illinois more than I expected it to. There are flat, cultivated lands, bordered by forests and hills. In the flat land there are fields of maize, sunflowers, hops, and fragrant lavender. In the mountains, low clouds hang over vibrant yellow trees getting ready to lose their leaves for the winter.
When I first arrived in Heidelberg I met my host student, Hannah, at the train station. Hannah is a hochschule student. Hochschule is comparable to a trade or vocational school in the United States. The Heidelberg hochschule specializes in social sciences and legal studies. Before coming to the hochschule, Hannah spent three years as an apprentice at a German court. Her English is perfect.
I will be staying with Hannah and her family in Hemsbach, a small village 20 kilometers from Heidelberg. The towns that dot the German landscape are very different from the towns of lower Midwest. For example, even though only 10,000 people live in Hemsbach, its residents live in row houses and apartments. Neighbors live close to other and the entire town seems to be packed into less than a square mile. It is convenient to take a trip anywhere in town on a bicycle or even on foot. Yesterday, Hannah and I headed out on bicycles. First, we pedaled to her brother’s futbol game at the Sportzplatz. I met a lot of locals and managed my best speaking a pidgin of elementary grammar-poor German and English. After the game, we cycled around the town and saw the Rathaus, a beautiful Italianate-style town hall. We also saw the town synagogue and we went into the Catholic Church, which keeps its doors unlocked at all hours for worshippers and visitors. Last, we stopped at the lake. It was a grand opening to what I hope will continue to be an enjoyable and educational stay in Germany.
October 08, 2011
SIU Law Students Head to Heidelberg, Germany
Early this morning a group of SIU School of Law students who have been studying legal globalization and Germany this semester departed to take part in International Week 2011 at SRH Heidelberg University in Germany. Along the way, students will have the opportunity to take courses regarding international legal issue, interact with other law students from around the globe, and tour sites of historic significance to the law, including Nuremberg, Germany, the location of the famous post-WWII Nuremberg trials.
Throughout their journey, the students will post entries to this blog. We hope you will check back often to learn more about this unique course and the experiences of the students involved.