Regensburg: one month down!

It’s already been a month since I got to Germany. It’s almost kinda scary how fast the time has gone.

I’ve been having a lot of fun, though. There’ve been all kinds of exciting things happening since I arrived. One of the first things we (the international students who arrived for summer semester 2012) did was a Stadtführung (city tour) organized by the Akademisches Auslandsamt (international student office) on campus. We had a great tour guide who walked us through the Altstadt (older part of the city) and told us about the cathedrals, the Roman wall and buildings that still partially exist there, and various other buildings (like the hotel in which Don Quixote was conceived, and then later the building in which he was born) throughout the city. Unfortunately it was quite chilly that day; I don’t think it got much above 3 or 4°C.

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One of the cathedrals in Regensburg

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The same cathedral but from the other side of the Danube. It was a much nicer day out in this picture.

We also went to visit the “Castle” of the Thurn and Taxis families. When I think of a castle, I think of something like Neuschwannstein (what the Disney castle was based on; it also happens to be here in Bavaria), but this was nothing like that. It was actually an abandoned monastery before some wealthy merchant families acquired it. They then proceeded to renovate it a bit, adding some relatively small fortifications and whatnot. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but it was a very pretty place.

Going to the Munich Zoo (the actual name is Tierpark Hellabrunn) was a lot of fun. I did that on my second trip to Munich; the first trip didn’t turn out quite so well because of some unpleasant weather, but the second time it was absolutely beautiful. The only zoo I’d ever been to before that was the Louisville Zoo (in Louisville, KY, in case that wasn’t clear), and this one is far larger with far more animals. The aquarium was closed when we went because they were rebuilding several of the habitats, but even without the aquarium it was way larger. It took the five of us several hours to make it through most of the zoo, though naturally we were stopping to take pictures like the tourists were are.

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The Glockenspiel at Marienplatz in Munich on the nasty, cold, rainy day.

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Entrance of the zoo on the beautiful, warm day.

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Guinea pigs!

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The German word for guinea pig is “Meerschweinchen,” which literally translates to “sea piglet.” It makes about as much sense.

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This goat was very forward about being fed (the green box on the right is a food dispenser; it was 0,50€ for a large handful of food).

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The five of us who went to the zoo: (left to right) Chelsea (America), Sophie (Belgium), Terhi (Finland), me, Lynn (Belgium). A nice stranger took this photo for us.

When we were in Munich on the bad-weather day, we decided to visit the Deutsches Museum (German museum). Unfortunately it didn’t turn out to be quite as interesting as I’d hoped. On the other hand, they had pretty much everything there, including the history of measuring instruments. We spent several hours there, and I’m pretty sure we didn’t even see two-thirds of it.

One day through the week we had a tour of the Kneitinger Bock brewery. It’s a fairly small place, but it was interesting to hear some of the history of the brewery and to learn a little bit more about the brewing process, though I’m personally not a big fan of alcoholic beverages (I refused my free beer sample at the end of the tour). Apparently this brewery was founded in 1530, though; there are things like that all over the place here, and it just blows my mind. These tiny little local breweries have been around for literally hundreds of years longer than my own country.

Oh, and a quick note about KIIS (the Kentucky Institute for International Studies, which is the program I went through to get here): fantastic. Going through KIIS may seem like a little bit of a hassle at first, but it makes being here a total breeze. First off, it’s really pretty cheap compared to a lot of other study abroad programs. That low price includes so many things it’s crazy, so once you get here there’s not really a whole lot beyond food and personal spending money that you have to pay for. There’s so much paperwork and stuff like that that gets taken care of too, compared to, say, Erasmus students. For example, going through KIIS, we don’t have to set up a German bank account to pay the rent for our rooms because KIIS did it all for us. Pretty much everyone else had to do that. There’s a whole bunch of other stuff like that that just makes this program really hassle-free, though, which (I think) makes for a far better study abroad experience.

One of the first questions people (myself included) ask when someone comes back from a trip: how was the food? So far, everything’s been pretty great. Germany is actually quite vegetarian-friendly, I’ve found, and the university cafeteria always has at least one vegetarian option every day (it’s also usually the cheapest!). Of course, if meat is more to your liking, there’s plenty of that too. One thing I’ve been slightly disappointed with, though, is the lack of spicy food. There have been several “Mexican” dishes served in the Mensa (cafeteria), one of which was even labelled as spicy, but none of it has been. There are a few Indian restaurants around Regensburg, though, so I still need to find out what the German version of Indian food is like.

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Okay, so this isn’t exactly “German cuisine,” but I thought it was delicious. I cut my pretzel in half, spread Nutella (which comes in glass jars here, not plastic!) on it, and added banana slices. Pretty fantastic.

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Kaiserschmarrn mit Apfelmus. I had this at an actual restaurant, not at home or in the Mensa. It was really delicious. It’s sort of like little pancake-bits (normally with raisins, but I ordered it without) with some powdered sugar on top and chunky, homemade applesauce on the side. If you prefer something a bit more savory as your main dish, you may want to stay away from this because it definitely seems like a big dessert, but I thought it was pretty great.

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I can’t actually remember what this was called, but I think it was some sort of bean-loaf-type-thing with an apple-and-vegetable curry. This was the dish that came closest to being spicy, but it still didn’t quite make it. It was pretty tasty nonetheless.

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This is probably my favorite dish so far. It’s some sort of crepe with lots of delicious vegetables inside. That bit of veggies-in-sauce isn’t actually leaking out of the back, though that is basically what’s inside it as well.

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