Learning and Traveling in Germany
I was chosen to be one of the recipients of the Foreign Language Ambassador Scholarship Grant. I stayed in Berlin for three weeks and an additional three days in Wetzlar. During my stay in Berlin, I also traveled by train and plane to other cities.
I was in Berlin in August, so it was summer. I really like the weather in Germany at the time, not too hot, not too cold.
The people are also friendly and helpful. Compared to other European cities such as London and Paris, I would say that Germany is much safer than the other two. There were a lot of immigrants from Asia and the Middle East, and they are very nice. During my first train ride in Berlin, I can’t really understand the train’s announcement, so I asked a guy next to me who’s from the Middle East. He explained where I need to go and, more than that, he gave me his phone number to call him if I have any problem. What a nice guy!
There’s also a variety of food. There’s Middle Eastern food that are very tasty and cheap (Berlin is actually the birthplace of doner kebab). There’s also traditional German food. My favorite is a classic wiener schnitzel, which is a slice of pork in a crispy batter served with lemon and fries. My host family made an eisbein. It is a boiled ham served with potato and pickled cabbage (sauerkraut). Just thinking of that makes me feel hungry.
Speaking of my host family, I lived outside Berlin in a town called Falkensee. It’s actually a quiet and nice place. My host family speaks little to no English at all. However, there were two fellow students from Taiwan who helped me communicate with the host family. There was also a girl from Russia who arrived on my second week. She’s quite shy and introvert. Later we walked to school together. During weekends, she went with her friend and I always ended up traveling alone.
On the first weekend, I took an ICE train to Hamburg, a port city north of Berlin. It was quite a nice city. On the second weekend, I took a train to Leipzig, a very old and beautiful city. I also went to the Mauerpark in Berlin. I sat at what I can describe as a “miniature Colosseum” in the park. There were people singing and everyone was singing along or cheering for them. The next week I went to Munich by plane. It is by far one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. I visited many places in Munich but two of my most favorite places are the park where a group of people was riding their surfboards in the park’s river, the current being strong enough for surfing. The other place is called Hofbrauhaus, a really old beer house. I sat next to two very friendly Germans. I ordered my beer, and when it arrived the two guys said to me “prost!” which means “cheers.” I talked with them for a while.
The following weekend I went to Dresden, which is also very beautiful. It was bombed during WWII but it has since been restored. I went to Frauen Church, which was very tall and beautiful. I had a very enjoyable meal in a restaurant that has a great view of the church.
In the last week of my stay in Berlin, the German school I was attending made a field trip to Friedrichshain where the East Side Gallery is located. My classmates were quite nice. I am at the A1 level so there was only seven people in my class. There was one student from Ivory Coast, two from Thailand, and one each from Pakistan and India. They were really helpful. We visited a few places in Friedrichshain; it was not my cup of tea, but still nice. After the trip, I went to the top of the TV tower and had dinner there, enjoying the panoramic view.
The following day I moved out of my host family’s house. They were really kind. They have three lovely cats and a dog that looked a bit scary but was actually nice. I flew to Frankfurt first and then traveled by train to Wetzlar. You might ask, “Why?” It’s actually the holy city of Leica and I wanted to visit the museum. I stayed there for three days, and it felt like vacation heaven. The town itself is quite small but it is very quiet and beautiful. I had one day to spare so I decided to travel by train to Cologne. I wanted to go there five years ago, and I finally fulfilled that wish. I visited the famous Cologne Cathedral, but sadly it was under restoration. I walked until I reached the vicinity of the Rhine river, where I saw a few kids blowing bubbles. I took my camera out and took a photo.
On the last day, I caught my plane in Frankfurt and started my journey back to Bangkok. As I was sitting on the plane looking out the window, I told myself it’s really worth it to come all the way here.
Mr. Kitbanpot Thoo-Pairoh, a student in the ICCU/ICIC program, is a recipient of MUIC’s Foreign Language Ambassador Scholarship grant in 2019.