Not all of my time in Germany has been spent working. Besides work, I was able to travel with friends and see Germany. One weekend, I travelled to Bremen, in northern Germany. Only about two hours away from Essen, Bremen, a wonderful historic old town, is home to the famous Bremer Stadtmusikanten, a tiered statue of a rooster, cat, dog, and donkey, which depicts a Grimm fairytale, and Beck’s brewery.
Two weeks after my trip to Bremen, I travelled to the opposite end of Germany, to Munich, Bavaria. Bavaria, which is perhaps most Americans’ conception of Germany (probably due to the U.S. occupation of Bavaria following World War II) is vastly different from the rest of Germany. Many Germans refer to Bavaria as a foreign country and many Bavarians consider themselves to be Bavarian first, and German second. Moreover, unlike the relatively easily understood German in northern Germany, “real” Bavarians speak Bavarian, which is a German dialect. Although I studied for a year in Munich and could sometimes understand the dialect, going back to Munich was an adventure, as it was difficult to understand some locals with whom I spoke.
Not only did I travel throughout Germany, I also caught up with old lacrosse friends, who travelled to Essen. Having played lacrosse in Essen during my English teaching fellowship, I was able to continue over the summer playing with my former team. In addition to playing in our final game, I was also able to play in our yearly tournament, the Glück Auf Cup. The phrase Glück Auf is specific to the Ruhrgebiet (Ruhr region) and is what the area’s coal miners said to one another when trading shifts and roughly means “Come back up safely.” The GAC invites teams from around Europe and this year included teams came from all over Germany, Holland, and Belgium. My team, the Ruhrpott Pirates, also competes; however, we also have to man the different stations and help run the competition. Besides playing, I was responsible for manning the grill, cleaning up the fields, and working the bar. It was great getting to play with my old team again and seeing friends who play for different teams.