26/04/2016, by CLAS
Kölsch und Kultur: DAAD study trip to Cologne
Most linguists agree that there is no better way to practise your language skills than immersing yourself in the country, where there are countless opportunities to talk with native speakers every day and situations which really test your knowledge, pushing you to utilise your expertise. This was put into practice by the German Department over the Easter break when around 15 lucky students spent 10 days exploring the city of
Cologne, teamed with 15 peers from the University of Manchester. The trip, funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), was put together by the DAAD-Lektoren from Nottingham (Sascha Stollhans) and Manchester (Eva Adelseck) as an opportunity for students to get a taste of Cologne and the neighbouring city of Bonn and was packed with activities from start to finish.
We arrived at our hotel on the Friday, which was located close to the student district of the city – offering some great places to eat, relax and unwind in the evenings after the busy days. Immediately, we were able to get a real understanding of the city with wonderful tours led in German (a chance to see the city and practice our language skills!), from exploring the Hohenzollern Bridge to the amazing view of Cologne’s panorama from the top of the KölnTriangle. We were given a broad history of the city, which really helped my understanding of so many other activities we completed throughout the trip as well as showing us all Cologne’s truly unique position in Germany. Further visits to museums throughout the trip (including the Haus der Geschichte in Bonn, the Römisch-Germanisches Museum in Cologne and the NS-Dokumentationszentrum in Cologne) gave us a more detailed insight into the fascinating history of the region. There was even a visit to one of Germany’s famous castles, the stunning Schloss Drachenberg, which put perspective on the area with its beautiful view down the Rhine from Bonn to Cologne in the far distance.
Students also got the chance to interact with the Cologne of today. We were welcomed by the Abiturienten (German A-Level students) of the Friedrich-Ebert-Gymnasium in Bonn and spent the day learning about each others’ cultures in activities organised by the students, as well as having the chance to chat to them informally and get to know other young people. We also visited the head offices of Deutsche Welle, the world-famous media broadcaster, and had the opportunity to discuss current events while learning about the ways Deutsche Welle makes itself accessible to speakers of German and other languages worldwide. An evening visit to a modern adaptation of the 1779 G.E. Lessing play ‘Nathan the Wise’ gave multiple viewpoints on religious intolerance in Germany, particularly in light of the refugee crisis and recent terrorist attacks throughout Europe, and left a deep impression of the relevance of such issues in Germany today.
After a wonderful meal together on the final evening the groups went our separate ways, but we were able to bring our experiences of the city together through the project we had been working on during the trip: a blog detailing the events of every day and how the students had enjoyed them. You can find more pictures of the trip on Facebook; and for any German speakers who might want to know more, an in-depth summary of the trip can be found on this blog, which is publically available at www.studienreise2016.wordpress.com. Feel free to give it a read! You might be inspired to visit the wonderful city of Cologne yourself.
Hannah Campbell, 2nd Year Undergraduate student in German with Dutch, School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies