Schmalkalden is a charming, little-known town in Thuringia. Ohhh Schmalkalden, I loved trying to explain where you are to German people. “Errhhmm, near Erfurt?” Why hasn’t anyone heard of you?! Because we were in and out of Schmalkalden so much, it isn’t one fluid memory for me. So I’m going to do this post a little differently and give you the things I remember the most about my time in this town.
1. Its cuteness. This place is like story book Germany. Honestly.
2. The School
The program I completed is called International Summer School Schmalkalden (ISSS) at FH Schmalkalden University of Applied Sciences. The professors all came from different countries and had different styles of teaching. My personal favorite was professor Richert, mainly because he is extremely knowledgeable about everything to do with International Economics and just a really fascinating person. Professor Richert is from Berlin and was one of the first people to cross into Eastern Berlin in November of 1989. He had just finished exams for his master’s degree and was celebrating at a bar in Western Berlin, watching an American broadcast about the opening of the wall. He and a friend decided to go see if it was true and much to his surprise, the wall guard let them pass. We had the privilege of having him as a walking tour guide on a weekend trip to the city. How great is that? Stay tuned for a post about Berlin!
The welcoming ceremony included students from FH greeting the international students in all of our native languages, an a capella quartet singing German children’s songs (think four adults mimicking a coo-coo clock in song), and all the frankfurters and German beer that you could eat and drink. Oh, it was also in a castle. Yeah.
All of the courses that we took were very condensed, lots of information in a little amount of time– especially the midnight lecture that the school offered. The midnight lecture was held outside on the top of a hill. We watched the sunset, drank a couple of beers, and mingled with other students before we started. Professor Richert lectured until about 4am and we took a test over all of the information at 5am. Yes, a test at 5am after staying awake all night. I fell asleep during the lecture so it wasn’t my best grade that summer, but still a really cool experience.
I stayed with one of the masters students at the school, but most of the girls in the program stayed at Pension Barbara and had the great fortune of having Barb (we called her Barb) as a hostess. She was a little eccentric and didn’t speak much english, but she was THE BEST. She set up the most amazing breakfast buffet in the morning, she had world cup watch parties, and she invited us to see her wine cellar where she stores all her homemade preserves. I will never forget her showing me all of her signed CDs from bands that she has had stay at her bed and breakfast, she was so excited about it. She also let me eat breakfast for free once or twice, even though I wasn’t staying with her. What a gem. If you’re ever in Schmalkalden, I highly recommend staying here. (Side note: My hostess, Mareike, was so welcoming and also really great.)
4. Grandma’s Kitchen
Zum Kirchhof is the German name. The English menu called the place Grandma’s Kitchen, and grandma was one of the servers. We ate there multiple times, and would always joke about how we couldn’t wait to get back to Grandma’s on our weekend trips. It was down a side street that I can’t remember the name of, and I also can’t remember the name of what I ate there. But i know it was delicious. The reviews on trip advisor say that it’s great representation of food from the region at a great price. (One of the reasons we couldn’t wait to get back…)
5. The World Cup
How cool is it that I was in Europe during the World Cup? How cool is it that I was studying in the country that won? Really, really cool. The school showed the games on a projector in one of the auditoriums, and it was packed full of fans. Students were sitting on the steps and on the floor during the Germany/Portugal game. During the game one of the Brazilian international students started yelling for Portugal and the room erupted with retort, it was pretty entertaining. We watched most of the games from Barb’s, she decorated with little flags and had German snack food for us to try. I’m don’t usually watch football (soccer), but I found myself getting pretty into it that summer because of all the energy.
6. The People
As with most trips, the people that I met in Schmalkalden made my experience. Thank you for the memories!