Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Just before they rode into Austria.

Altstadt. Fenster.
View from Schloss in Füssen.

I will miss this group. This was our last group photo. Happy campers, especially those with fantastic ice cream!


Gallery visit to the King Kongs.
Füssener Altstadt.
Installation. Chocolate-wrapper-turned-object Landscape. Pinakothek der Moderne.
Urban Landscape.
Rhubarb-Mineral Water "Schorle"

End of program

@ Kleines Spiel. Appreciative audience. Kleines Spiel seats about 45 guests.
Ludwig II's view.
Wieskirche. Yes, that's an actual skeleton.
Neue Pinakothek tour
The program has officially ended.  What a great group! What tremendous growth I witnessed! Each of the students has been asked to post something to the blog, including pictures, so I hope you'll keep following us.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bayern! Bayern! Bayern!...

Lo and behold, it's the champions league final today, being hosted in Munich, and Munich is in the champions league final!
Perfect day to go see Macbeth!

Once again, we brave German theater students grabbed out backpacks, improvised new plans, pushed through the crowds of blues and reds (BAYYYYEEEEERRRRNNN!!!) and came out on top. We managed to eat, to watch our shows, and most surprisingly, to catch the end of the game. Prima!

Rewind to the beginning of the day, where we decided to check out the flea market at the Olympic Center. Built for the 1972 Olympics, the sports facilities, and surrounding parks and villages, go as far as the eye can see. On any normal day it's where you can expect to find Munich's jogger culture, and the occasional obscure sports group meet-up (parkour!). However, today it was the consolation prize for the huge masses of soccer pilgrims. We got there and followed the crowd. We couldn't find the flea market, but we did hit upon the public viewing of the match, a.k.a. the place where the party was at. Anyone who couldn't make it to the game and still wanted to paint their face red - or heaven forbid, blue - was going to be there, starting to gather even before noon.

Our friends Sony and Adidas were sure to make an appearance, and who could forget Mr. Champions League Trophy himself. Unfortunately the line to be able to take a High School Musical jump photo with the giant cup was a little too long for our busy schedules; but we did find the time to rest upon a beautiful hillside overlooking a lake, which was covered by a fifteen by six PERSON screen, with an overcrowded amateur soccer match going on below. Actually, I think the most striking thing about the event was the particularly calming music they were playing over the loud speakers. Clearly they wanted to pacify the soccer fans as much as possible.

After chatting with some Germans, some Poles, some Brits, and even some Michiganders (kudos to Sam for wearing his Michigan M hat), some of us made a detour before going home - to the BMW museum. Let's talk about the marvels that auto industry money can buy. We entered into BMW Welt ("world"), and quickly found out that it was connected to a BMW factory, the BMW museum, and BMW headquarters. We went on the tour of the museum. Basically, keeping in mind the obnoxious necessity to see through the constant BMW propaganda, this museum was what you might wish that all museums looked like. We went through interweaving corridors of exhibits that kept a straight path, and every once in a while opened up to a glance of the whole complex museum without making us wish we had left a trail of breadcrumbs. Everything was straight-forward, but still interesting in the architecture and presentation. DESIGN, DESIGN, DESIGN was what the building was trying to convey. In fact, I'll give it to them, it was a pretty good design feat, that being the whole BMW complex. The pros and cons of private museums, ladies and gentleman - very one-sided, but very cool.

I'd prefer not to go into details about the rendition of Macbeth that we saw. After all, some of us absolutely loved it, but I personally put it at the bottom of my list of the shows we have seen so far. The real show was standing at the back of a large crowd, trying to watch the end of the champions league final on a relatively small . Two halves of overtime, a penalty shoot, and.... sorry for the spoiler... Bayern Munich lost to Chelsea. It was actually interesting to see the community's reaction. As soon as Chelsea shot the winning penalty, people just started filling away. No uproar, not crying. People just left. Clearly we weren't in the mainstream area, we happened to catch the crowd that just wanted to know the score finally, I think.

We didn't try to find the drama that night. We headed to bed, because the next day we had an early morning museum tour.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blog from Erin on May 14

This is a posting that Erin wrote. She had no internet access.  Pictures to come!

May 14th

After a busy week in München with activities such as museum tours during the day, catching countless trams and trains, and theater performances almost every night, being in the Alpen foothill town of Füssen has been quite a treat.  While approaching the mountains in the train from München, I remembered how it felt to see them for the first time on the train to Murnau and I thought to myself excitedly "Wir sind wieder da!" München  is beautiful and has a fascinating history, but for the time being I am enjoying nature's beauty where I feel more at home and relaxed, and experiencing the unique traditions and history of rural Bavaria.

Today we took a tour on a bus, and I was told it was called a "romantic bus ride" on the "romantic road."  It was absolutely beautiful, except I couldn't enjoy the first half due to motion sickness.  I sat in the front for the second half and I felt fine.  Not very interesting, unlike the tour.  We visited two gorgeous baroque churches, Wieskirche and one in Steingaden. 

After the tour, we ate a quick dinner in our beautiful hotel room and left to see an Alpine horn concert  at sundown by two charismatic gentlemen dressed in trachten.  On the walk back from the concert we had the privelage of hearing a cuckoo bird.  Every experience today was perfectly traditional and unique to the region and it was everything I had hoped it would be. 

Back in the City/Reflections on Fuessen

We have just returned to Munich after a lovely week of relaxing in the Alps and letting the creative juices run without the hustle and bustle of the city.  Fuessen was wonderfully refreshing, with beautiful mountain views and clean, clear air.  It inspired me to practice my newly discovered painting skills (still definitely in progess, but I made something I liked better than what I produced in our earlier workshop.)  The slow-paced life of a more rural area of Germany gave me the patience to really take the scene in and be able to somewhat recreate what I saw.  Our awesome accomodations in Fuessen complete with kitchen and comfortable living area also helped to bring our group closer together, especially since we got to make special group meals and things like that.  To be honest, I was sad to leave, but the show we saw this evening was a wonderful re-introduction to the city!  "Intimate Stranger" at the Schauburg was by far my favorite piece that we have seen so far.  It was simultaneously hilarious and beautiful.  The combination of the music with the choreographed scenes had a surprisingly moving effect even in the midst of all of the goofiness, and several members of our group and I had the good fortune of enjoying front row seats!  That was really exciting, and it was the first show that has left me feeling completely engaged throughout, and that I would be willing to see again.  It has also gotten me really excited for our remaining time in Munich, and I can't wait to see what the next few days have in store!


Back in Munich

Sorry about the lack of posts. We have been in the Alps and there was no internet access for us. We're back now, so you should be brought up to date soon.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Happy belated Mothers' Day from all the students.

We arrived in Füssen yesterday. It is gorgeous here.  All of the students are well.  Their rooms are very nice and comfortable and I believe that they will sleep very well here, surrounded by mountains.  They have the morning free and then we will discuss our plans in Füssen. This will be a place for them to spend time in nature, reflect, paint, draw, and write.  We do not have WiFi at our hotel here, so there will be very limited posting to the blog. Parents who need to get an urgent message to their son or daughter are welcome to call my cell phone or email me, using the contact information you were forwarded by your son or daughter in my letter-to-parents. I'll check my email 2X day.

We will spend 4 comfortable days here, doing day hikes and exploring. I hear a cuckoo (a real one!) right now.  I have a sense that his little voice won't be enough to wake up the students, who are recovering from the city life of Munich. : )  The air here is the purest I have ever experienced, making sleeping conditions absolutely perfect despite the sun shining in. The air is a bit crisper than we hoped for (about 48 or 50 degrees, I'm guessing), but we will suffer through!  Pictures to come later.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Today I had my first taste touring Europe in what felt like one of the dog days of summer. Hans, our tour guide, met us at the great steps of the Glyptothek around 10am and the sun was already firing up. Although I had already toured the museum and admired its sculptures earlier in the week, I was not introduced to the history of the building itself. The building had been destroyed during the bombings of WW2, a fact that became all the more devastating later in the tour. The area around the Glyptothek was home to many official Nazi buildings built in an architecture style called "Neue Sachlichkeit" or, New Objectivity, which utilized reinventions of Grecian architecture. Hans pointed out characteristics of Nazi versus traditional Grecian or Bavarian buildings and enlightened us on remnants of Nazi Germany in the city's architecture. Eagles, "aryan" faces and old banner holders minus the swastikas and propaganda were revealed to us. Unfortunately, none of the Nazi buildings around the Glyptothek area were destroyed in the bombings, which is truly a unfortunate consequence of war. 

                                  The head of Augustus inside the museum.

A now transformed nazi building in the style of Neue Sachlichkeit.
Note the "greek" columns.
An official building turned bier garten.


We concluded our tour at the JYM headquarters and met up with Professor Guy Stern, a member of The Ritchie Boys and a pioneer in the field of holocaust studies. Stern was a modest and humble man considering all that he has accomplished. I enjoyed listening to his lecture on his time with US military intelligence and his start in writing and understanding literature. His smile and humor, even when reflecting on the horrors of war, gave me hope for my own future. His lecture gave me the strength to make the venture back through the concrete desert, to the apartment to partake in a well needed group nap. Although my feet grow weary, I can honestly say today was a day well spent.

                               Enjoying a well needed meal with Professor Stern.
                      A personal indoor lecture was a fantastic way to beat the heat.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Hello all,

We have been in Munich for almost a week now, and I have seen a performance every night so far!  It certainly has been an exciting, packed week.  Today was very busy, but probably one of my favorite days so far.  Allison, Sam, and I woke up a bit early to head to the Deutsches museum this morning.  It contained an overwhelming collection of science and technology related exhibits.  I most enjoyed the musical instrument exhibit.  It was cool to see a musical instrument collection in a science and technology museum since I just finished taking a physics of music course.  Afterwards we headed to Janet's hotel to share our artwork from our fantastic drawing and painting workshop from the past two days. (Which was, surprisingly, another highlight for me.  I am really developing more of an interest in art! I even bought some of my own supplies today.) We also shared some of the things we have been individually reflecting on.  It was really neat to hear about all of the different experiences we have each had while on the same trip.  I realized how much more there still is to discover!  Our next stop was "Muenchen liest-aus verbrannten Buecher," where guest readers shared some texts that were burned by the Nazis during WWII.  It was a very powerful experience, and I was excited to hear a poem that we had read last semester in Intensive 2! We then visited the King Kongs art studio, where we learned about a neat group of painters who do their work as a team and only sell pieces that they have all worked on.  It was a really neat concept that I had never heard of.  Then, after a huge (but delicious) schnitzel dinner with Lindsey, Ted, and Sam, we all met up at the Kleines Spiel marionette performance.  This was probably my favorite theater piece I have seen so far!  It was so fitting for this trip because the beautiful hand-made puppets made it a unique combination of theater and art.  We even got to go backstage afterwards to see how the puppets work.  It was really interesting to me.  I look forward to another exciting day tomorrow, and also can't wait to head to Fuessen to get a chance to test out my new art supplies in the Alps!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Art with Petra Winterkamp

The experience at Petra Winterkamp's personal art studio was one that I will remember for a long, long time. I've never looked at colors as vibrant and strong as the one's we were privileged to be inspired by and to work with yesterday. After a day of painting and sketching I felt like I had achieved a new state of mind - one where the part of the brain that we overwork in our everyday lives could rest, and where the creative, flexible part could be activated.

We began with a discussion about art - specifically the Blaue Reiter movement. What constitutes art? Why is abstract art considered beautiful? Are shape and color only useful to portray the physical world, or can it be used to evoke inner emotions from the viewer, or reflect the inner world of the artist? After the discussion, we set to work with sketching. Since animals are a large part of the Blaue Reiter movement, our models were little animals sculptures.

My favorite part of the workshop, however, was working with color. In fact, I got so carried away with working with subtle and vibrant hues, and textures we could create with a paste that could be applied to the canvas, that I forgot to paint an animal! I experimented with watered down color, creating pastel mixes, and contrasting the boldest and most opposing colors on the color wheel. I dripped color and smeared paste, and eventually I found a form hidden in the colors. In the end I coaxed what appeared to be a little blue-bird or a penguin from the canvas.

Never before have I created art so organically. The dynamic metamorphosis on the canvas was riveting for me, as if I was an observer of the creation of art that came from somewhere else. I truly feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work with a skilled artist in her personal studio, and to be able to take away such a unique experience.

Nature in the Alps

Overwhelmed by the beauty of the Alps.

Spring flowers outside of the Muenther-Haus.

A wild Katze appears.

Erin and Karin rest under a beautiful tree.

A late afternoon on the Staffelsee.

Partnachklam in Garmisch. 

Alpine spring in the foothills.

A meadow with a fantastic view of the mountains.

A few favorite moments

A beautiful lunch at Petra Winterkamp's.

Fearless leaders, Hanna and I.

I'm enjoying time spent with bright students, whoare totally engaged.

Germans take the time to make things aesthetically pleasing. My cappuccino--almost too beautiful to drink.

It is hard to take a picture that doesn't look like a postcard.

Self Portrait
One of my favorite things about this trip is that it provides a nice balance between city life and time in nature. The students have some highly structured activities and they also have time to explore, relax, and reflect. Here are a few pictures that capture some of my favorite moments, personally.

Pictures, as promised

Group Meal in Griesbräuhaus in Murnau- Bavarian Fare

Kammerspiele- before the show

All Day Painting Workshop with Petra Winterkamp

Münterhaus in Murnau

Painted Houses in Garmisch-Partenkirchen


Münterhaus in Murnau-Hinterglasmalerei


Painting Workshop


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Die Weisse Rose and other goodies

Yesterday we all traveled to LMU (Ludwig Maximillion Universitat) to meet Franz J. Muller (mit umlaut) who was a member of the White Rose during WWII.  Having taken my freshmen seminar in the RC about survivors of the Holocaust in which we had the opportunity to meet two or three survivors, I knew to expect a bit shall I say...being star struck.  Many emotions and confusing thoughts arise when you meet someone you highly respect and have read about indirectly for years.
Here was history, live and in person, and I couldn't think of a thing to say or ask him.  Many things played into this but the language barrier was probably the most frustrating for me.  I wished so much that I could formulate my thoughts into a cohesive sentence that would make sense to him.  I experienced this many times before the program started as I traveled around Germany with my English-speaking parents, but this was the first time that it really bothered me having only taken Intensive I. 
Once we had all gotten over our initial shyness, it is safe to say that we all came away from that meeting refreshed and in awe about his attitude.  He conveyed the importance of having a sense of humor during a time when few laughed and explained some of the things he did to “quietly resist”.  For example, something I found absolutely ingenious and hilarious is that instead of saluting and repeating the required Nazi salute, Heil Hitler, they simply added a “t” to the end of heil—making the phrase into a whole new meaning, “heilt” meaning to make well or heal.  Although it was necessary to say it fast to go undetected, he said it was one of the best resistance techniques in order to stay “nearly” free. 
Some interesting quotes from Franz:
“We are old men now, joking about the Nazis”
“It was a stupid part of human history-that’s it”
“They got beheaded [Hans and Sophie] and I got 5 years in prison”

My sketch of Franz and a group photo:

After meeting with the one of the only surviving members of the White Rose, something I will never forget, we all went our separate ways to have a little free time before Theater.  I chose to join a group exploring the city around Marionplatz and visit a few local shops.  An experience I need to share, however odd it is, takes place in an inconspicuous prepared foods deli where we stopped to eat lunch.  Once we were all satisfied with full stomachs, it was, of course, time to use the restroom before departing.  Having been in Germany for about two weeks now, I have learned to always take advantage of a free bathroom when the opportunity arises.  Differing from the United States, Germany often charges you to use the bathroom in public places and I have learned to always carry spare change around. Anyway, for all the bathrooms I have been in throughout my lifetime, I have never experienced a bathroom quite like this. 
Imagine the scene: a door labeled with the obvious sign “WC”, that leads into a cramped corridor revealing four other options to take.  A door marked “private” in a handwritten scrawl, a door marked Damen, one for Herren, and an unmarked, locked door.  Which do you take? Well, I chose to go with the safest option I could think of—Damen.  Expecting this to lead to a row of stalls, I was confused and surprised to find another cramped corridor.  This time there was only one option, yet I was unsure what to do with the door I had just left.  There was a lock on it.  Gee I don’t want someone to walk in on me…maybe I should just lock it.  But where does the next door lead?  Should I leave it unlocked until I know I’m in the right place?  What is going on?  Where am I?  Having finally made the decision to be safe than sorry, I barred the way against unwanted company, and opened the next the door only to be surprised once again by a cramped space containing a single toilet with another lock on it. 
We’ll never know what exactly the four doors were for or why each one had a lock, but we eventually concluded we had just survived our first vortex in Deutschland. 

My day ended with a viewing of John Gabriel Borkman at the Kammerspiele. I have learned to be patient at German theater, as I don’t understand a lot of what is going on during dialogue, and to wait for the moment when the big picture comes together after a few general ideas.  This play in particular was very fascinating, with a set containing a giant vertical wall with tunnels carved out into it for the actors to walk in and around and fans blowing paper chaotically through the tunnels and into the front rows of the audience every now and then.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it and I find that I am always amazed at the differences in German Theater from America. 
An unsettling experience followed the play that left us shaken and thoughtful.  One of the main actresses was pulled in a harness up into the air for a long period of time in the final scene with huge theater lights lit behind her facing the audience.  When the lights went out and she was finally lowered to the stage, they all began to walk to the center to take their bows.  However, she was only able to take a few steps before she collapsed onto the floor.  At first, the audience was taken aback and began to think it was part of the performance as her character had been dying in the final scene from a long illness.  Yet it soon became clear this was not acting as the actors rushed to her aid and called for a doctor.  “Jezt kein Theater” still rings in my head as the audience realized it wasn’t okay. She did wake up eventually and they led her backstage, but I was still shaken for some time as we walked back from the theater.
Although fainting actresses haven’t been a common theme, I am still continuously amazed at seeing live German theater and exploring Munich and I am very thankful to have this opportunity.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Here, have a Sunday

And a walking, walking, walking, walking, walking, walking, walking, walking, walking, walking, walking, walking, walking, lunch, walking, walking, walking...
At the beginning of the trip I actually had an ankle problem that was still recuperating - but now I feel completely healed. And pretty soon I'm going to have the calves of Hercules!

The day started off with walking to church. That was something I wouldn't have expected of this trip. But I guess the plan to get up early in the morning, get breakfast at the bakery (the fresh Äpfel-somethingsomething was delicious), and go as a small group of students to attend a typical German mass, all came about out of the cultural inspiration we get from being in this rich city. I'm not sure about the religious customs of the four classmates that came with me, but I'm definitely not much of a church-goer. That's what made it fun. We went to the Theatiner church, the one we were introduced to on Micheal's exciting tour. Absolutely beautiful. During the mass, while my classmates were looking down in respect, I was looking up and all around, just trying to take in the extreme amount of detail that went into the sculptures and designs of the clean white walls. The art just grew more complicated the further up I looked. I hoped the Münchners at back of me didn't mind my gaping-mouth intrigue.

The mass was very typical European styled - virtually the same thing I was used to from growing up in Poland. The highlight however was the choral group that we had especially chosen this mass-time to see. It was probably the most beautiful church music I had ever heard. The harmonies were impressive, and with the fact that the choral group was hidden behind the walls of the alter and out of sight, their voices gave the impression of invisible angels. I was glad that we went.

The walking then was geared towards museums. In Munich entrance into most museums on Sundays costs a mear one Euro, so this was our day to stroll through exhibits. Janet already blogged about most of the events that I was a part of for the rest of the day, but I do want to point out some things.

The eeriest part of the ancient Grecian sculptures collection in the Glyptothek is a hallway that is filled with busts of aristocracy. The museum had put them all in one place, and faced them in one direction. So there I was, sitting on an uncomfortably couch, getting interrogative looks from majestic looking, pupilless, white, Greek men, who all died centuries past. I talked to them about the weather.

I ended the day going to see E La Nave Va with Janet, Hannah, and Alison. That show was the absolute pinnacle of what I was expecting theater to be like in Munich. Absurd, disgusting, shameless - and damn good. So much happened so quickly, that it was hard to grasp even a majority of the language, but the performers carried it. The show was in Janet's favorite venue and had two of her favorite actors. Even though we were watching for them two, it's safe to say of the whole cast, that rather than suppressing their acting talents, the masks all the main characters were wearing only empowered their theatricality. Plus, having scored awesome seats on rush tickets, it was quite a blast
 being hit with that kind of energy from the second row in the audience.

A quiet, rainy day. . .

On this trip, student are expected to write a number of reflections in a journal, complete some assignments that require some exploration of the city, sketching and writing, and they are visiting some museums on their own. One of our big days for doing this kind of activity was yesterday. It was a rainy and chilly day--a day that may have been a really good one for exploring museums!

I met up with a few students at the Glyptothek and we leisurely walked through that museum at our own pace. The Glyptothek has fragmented sculptures from antiquity and it is impressive to see how they are displayed. There is a soft natural light in the galleries and an excellent café. In the summer, they transform the café by removing all the tables and setting up smaller tables to stand at. The cafe opens up onto a court and I learned that there are theater performances in that courtyard at night, sometimes in Latin. As one might expect, they serve wine instead of the usual coffee, hot chocolate (excellent by the way) and tea for the outdoor performances. But today was not the kind of weather for that.  In this museum I always contemplate how we have lost the ability to create such fine and detailed sculptures that for so many centuries captured and documented civilizations. The sarcophagi in this museum are incredible, as are some of the larger-than-life sculptures. I always feel small as I look at them. It is also eerie to see the larger-than-life warriors in various stages of killing or dying, each with slightly parted lips and a smile and his face.  It is hard to fathom that these sculptures have survived all these years and even harder to figure out how anyone could know how to reconstruct fragmented pieces to recreate enough of the image for us to see now. I know that this is partly because the Germans removed them from their original locations and took good care of them. Whether this is the right thing to have done is something I wonder about in retrospect. Some of the most beautiful sculptures are the simplest ones. The view of entire rooms of these is incredible.  Even though I have the least familiarity with antiquity and with sculptures, in general (my own education is more in modern art), I do always feel intrigued when visiting the Glyptothek.

After leaving the Glyptothek, we went to the Brandhorst museum which I had never visited before. There were many works by Cy Twombly here.  Seeing entire rooms filled with his gigantic paintings was impressive.  I also enjoyed seeing many mixed media works by a German artist, who paints with caviar. Two of the paintings were filled with tiny numbers, as well, since he counted the pieces of caviar on the paintings.

A highlight of the day for me was seeing E la Nave Va at the Kammerspiele. The Kammerspiele has become my favorite theater in Germany. It consistently has the most impressive shows and the acting is superb. I have yet to see something that I disliked there. The actors in this show wore masks that distorted their own features. Without going into the plot, I will say that the show was based off of a Fellini film, which I now want to watch.  The stage was transformed into a large ship and the top deck (the stage for much of the time) was on a huge angle, which must have made crossing the stage very difficult. Actors slid and rolled down the stage at times, and climbed up it at others. This show was replete with singing, cross-dressing, and it even had a story line about a gorilla. (Yes, the gorilla plays an important role in the play.) Mainly, I loved how well the play showed earlier attitudes Europeans had about other cultures being "exotic" and dangerous. The play highlighted and poked fun at condescending attitudes of the wealthy.  We were lucky to score seats in the 6th row and the two lucky students with us even moved up to the second or third row.  My favorite actress, Brigitte Hobmeier, did not disappoint.

Today was a slow, but full day.  In the end, I realized how fortunate I feel to be able to view Culture from ancient civilizations to contemporary times,  thanks to Munich's excellent museums. And I am able to experience the role that contemporary theater here plays in creating today's culture. Leaving each play, we have a tendency to discuss what we just saw, what it meant, etc. I love that the theater offers something accessible, but at the same time forces one to think.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May the 4th:: The Most Incredible Day Ever

A few days ago, on May 4th, I along with the rest of the Deutsches Theater students had a once in a lifetime experience. The original plan for the day was to go on a simple nature walk, but Lindsey, who visited Bavaria last year, had the awesome idea to go to the chasm at Garmisch-Partekirche, a beautiful town at the foot of the Alps.

The chasm is called "Partnachklamm", you can check out more info on it and find photos here:

Lindsey had described it as a cave, so I was expecting to see a simple, narrow, dark cave. Walk through it once or twice, then leave. I was very wrong. First, the walk to Partnachklamm from the train stop was an adventure on its own! We got a little lost, but it was okay because we got to see so many cool things - from tiny fruit stands (with the most delicious looking strawberries I have ever seen) and even the ski-site from the 1936 Winter Olympics! The slopes were terrifying yet truly breathtaking. As a Floridian who had never skied, it was a really awesome and new view.

After about an hour of passing more interesting sites, baby billy goats, lone sheds, long fields, and snowy clifftops looming above, we made it to Partnachklamm. I was immediately shocked. After only a few yards, there was a giant waterfall - definitely the most "real" and largest one I had ever laid eyes on. Around that point, it became clear that although small caves were involved on this hike, Partnachklamm was far more - a distinct chasm between two rocky mountains. A furious white water rushed through a narrow stream about 20 feet below us. Only a wire railing and our wits separated us. Giant, moist, rock surrounded. It was a light tan or yellow, but the tight, pitch black caves we sometimes walked through were gray. The ground my hiking boots slushed through was a mix of gravel, stone, and brown dirt. The sound of walking was peaceful as it intertwined  with the constant rush of the water.

There were points where I stopped and touched the Earth. If anyone, ever, for some reason doubts nature's power, then they should come to Partnachklamm. Their minds would be changed in an instant. The place is alive, harmonious, and healing. Most of all, it is completely unglaublich - unbelievable - a word I found myself repeating through the hike.

The most prevalent thought, however, was thankfulness. I have been ridiculously fortunate to have been able to see these things in my life. I have seen Stone Henge, the cliffs of Cornwall, climbed desert mountains to see the sunrise, touched the Western Wall, hiked the Smokey's, the Alps, and Big Bear, and breathed the icy chills of Niagara Falls. Not only did I see these things, I experienced them.

I am very grateful to my classmates, Janet, and the Residential College for giving me this kind of opportunity. It is something I will never forget!