My program is a little unique when it comes to summer study terms, as it is five weeks instead of four. Our first week was spent taking a German class, with the next four weeks being dedicated to sustainability courses. I haven’t taken a language course since my junior year of high school, so what I was expecting was relatively similar to my experiences from that. Lots of vocab drilling and verb conjugation, really mind numbing stuff that would form the fundamentals of my understanding of the language. Instead, what I experienced was closer to a crash course in being able to make my way through regular interactions in the country, such as introducing myself or ordering at a restaurant. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting, but now that I think about it, it was exactly what I needed. The program knows that we are only here for a month, not the rest of our lives, so they equipped us with as much knowledge in that week to get us through a month.
After a week of taking my Design of Sustainable Energy Systems class for a week, I can say that it has been about what I was expecting. The hours in the classroom have been long but interesting, and the work has been demanding but manageable. The first three days we had optional but helpful homework assignments, and on the fourth we were assigned a project that is the equivalent of a midterm, due on Sunday. Our goal was to propose and evaluate new additions to a house’s energy system that would make them more sustainable. After many, many hours of work this weekend (much longer than the estimation of eight hours our professor gave us), we came out the other side with an interesting project and skills that will help us down the line if we have to evaluate whether the implementation of a project is worthwhile. I can definitely see these skills being beneficial for me later in my career, which was exactly what I was hoping for with the courses that I am taking.
Personally, this weekend I had an experience that would have met someone whose expectations of Munich only came from a couple of postcards. On Sunday I went to the Kocherlball, a very traditional German festival. Almost everybody was dressed in traditional Bavarian dress, with a full polka band playing in the background entertaining hundreds of people dancing. Thousands of others sitting around a biergarten eating a breakfast of breads, meats, and cheeses, and drinking beer by the liter. Experiencing that made for a phenomenal morning, but sadly that was only one morning. Otherwise, living in Munich has been approximately what I was expecting; lots of school during the day and exploring the city afterwards.