The past few days have a been a whirlwind of activity, from fantasizing about the future to reminiscing about the past, I can barely remember all we’ve done in the past two days alone. Thursday we packed up the “party bus” in order to visit the University of Bonn and the Haus de Geschichte (House of History).
I’ve been turning over the idea of a gap year between high school and university in my head for a while now, and when I shared those thoughts with my family they were very excited with the idea that I may spend a portion of that time in Germany. It is well known that I am not one to easily or quickly make decisions – I need to know all the facts before I can come to any kind of informed decision. While this may come in handy parts of the time, other times it results in just complete chaos. Take my timetable for next year for example…I’m nearly certain Student Services hates me for the number of appointments I have scheduled to change my timetable, or inquire about this, or inquire about that.
While I have been in Germany I have been trying to gather some information together so that I can make some scary decisions about the future to come. Decisions regarding my gap year (or not), whether I can study here, how easy that would be, how to improve my German, how to apply for universities…the list goes on and on. On Thursday my aunt and uncle helped me in trying to make some decisions by taking me to Bonn, to visit the University of Bonn and witness firsthand myself just how nice a city it is. My mind was blown at my first glimpse of the University, pictures truly do not give it any justice. It seems to me less a university than a palace, and the furthest thing from any Canadian university I’ve ever seen.
Founded in 1818 by King Frederick William III of Prussia (shoutout to my “modern” history class), the University of Bonn has a very interesting history which includes being known as the Prinzenuniversität (Princes University) as many of the sons of the Kings of Prussia studied here, and having many notable alumni such as THE Karl Marx (my head nearly exploded when I found this out). Everything about this university seems perfect, from the indescribable beauty of it’s buildings, to the large park in centre of it all where students lounge in the shade, bikers casually pass by and beautiful flowers are sold at every corner. It felt like I had stepped into a cliché storybook, like I was in the middle of Madeline and had stopped for a moment to gaze around me and take in the breathtaking beauty of my surroundings.
I have spent an unhealthy amount of time on the University’s website since, and have found many programs that I feel have been made specifically for me. Including an amazing program in which you study both the French and German languages and then spend a third of your time at the Paris-Sorbonne University. How incredibly amazing is that?! I know I’m just dreaming, and that in reality this will probably be very difficult to make happen, but at least now I have an idea of what I want, what I want to work towards. As my mom told me as I pleaded over the phone with her last week to let me stay in Germany “Sophia! You HAVE to finish high school!” (I was a little disappointed to hear this), I suppose I can now see this dream as my goal in finishing the high school, the yellow brick road that will hopefully lead to better things. I can barely contain my excitement and plan to spend an incredible amount of time here trying to figure out what exactly I need to apply, and also what exactly I need to get my German citizenship.
After we finished our breathtaking walk through the University, we then ventured into the historic core of Bonn to check out the cobblestone paths that lead to numerous ancient churches and of course the shopping. I find myself constantly wordless and breathless in awe at the beauty that surrounds me here in Germany, whether it be walking along these ancient paths in Bonn, staring up at the Kölner Dom or biking along the hilly paths surrounded by farm animals this morning in Wolmehrsen. We first went to one of the historic cathedrals in Bonn, a complete sense of awe and respect entering me as we walked through the great iron door into the cathedral, complete silence and beauty ensuing us. You can’t help but feel moved when you walk into any of these kinds of cathedrals. Their magnificence and immense history demand respect, acknowledgement, appreciation. Whether it be this cathedral in Bonn that was so silent you could hear a pin drop, to the incomparably larger cathedral in Cologne, everyone has it’s own history and mean to whisper to you if you stop long enough to hear it. The silence of this cathedral in Bonn was overwhelming, it made you so deeply aware of every movement you made, every breath you took.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said that “A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral” and as I looked around this vast cathedral at the others basking in its glory I am reminded that each person has their own meaning, their own interpretation to everything they see. I was so heavily reminded of this again yesterday when at the Kölner Dom I saw numerous people pull out selfie sticks in the middle of this great cathedral and a complete contrast to the silence and stillness of the day before at the cathedral in Bonn, the Kölner Dom being incredibly busy, loud and bustling. I didn’t take any pictures within the cathedral in Bonn as it didn’t feel right to do so, but the one word I can use to describe is rich. Not in the traditional wealthy sense, but I mean rather rich in spirituality, religion, meaning.
We then roamed the streets of Bonn after seeing the cathedral, and I fell deeper in love with the city. It is such a picturesque, beautiful city with a small town feel. It made me feel absolute disbelief at being there.
Our next stop was Haus de Geschichte, the German House of History. This was incredibly impactful for me. But I shall explain it’s significance in another post, as I fear I have already rambled enough for today.