At first, I didn’t know whether to be shocked or pleased that a mere 18 students from GCU took our university up on the offer of a fairly cheap, activity-filled week in Cologne. But whilst sunning myself and taking in the beauty and sights of North Rhine-Westphalia, I knew that the few students that had decided to come on the trip, myself included, had all made a brilliant decision.
Sports, Events, Business, Marketing and Journalism students were all invited, with a view that these are the courses that would most benefit from experiencing what German student life has to offer. And experience we did – here for your viewing pleasure is a small photo diary detailing various events throughout the week.
After getting too excited about free beer on the plane, we arrived in Cologne on Tuesday 11th June. We checked into our cute little hostel, and then went for a tutor-lead explore/orientation around the main part of Cologne city.
We travelled to Dusseldorf to visit a German school, Lore-Lorentz. We were greeted by one of their teachers, Michael, who is a good friend of one of the tutors who accompanied us on the trip (sports lecturer Robert Kielty) and a very welcoming host.
The German school system is different to ours – most people do not leave school until they are around 20, giving them a longer time to decide what they would like to study at university. We explained our school system to them and gave a few presentations to the German students about the kind of courses that we study…
And then they showed us what they all love to study – sport! The boys played basketball whilst I tried my hand at some roller-hockey.
We then watched a presentation in the Chambers of Commerce in Dusseldorf, before returning to Cologne for another explore and a traditional German dinner and some ice cream before bed.
We climbed the Dom, the world’s fourth tallest cathedral, which has 533 steps (approx half an hours walk to to top) and some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen.
It was also my lovely friend Jess’ 20th birthday, so after the trek up the Dom and a bite to eat, we rewarded ourselves with some cocktails.
In the morning we discovered Cologne University. The campus itself was beautiful, with a lake, a green park and a woodland stroll…but the actual university was very prison like. Stuffy, old and with no windows; GCU 1 – Cologne Nil.
The plus side was the gorgeous campus dog, Chico!
That evening we travelled to the nearby city of Bonn, an incredibly historic place which was the previous East capital when the country was still split by the wall. The university in comparison to Cologne’s university was spectacular – beautiful buildings in an unbelievably pictureque setting. We explored the town and university for a few hours, taking in real german markets, the mayor’s office, and yet yet another stunning cathedral.
This was the day all the boys had been waiting for. We were given a guided tour round the infamous and impressive Dortmund football stadium, which went down a storm with the lads – but not as much girl the girls *snore*.
We were treated to a BBQ at Michael (aforementioned teacher)’s gorgeous home. He and his wife put on a beautiful spread of food, beer, wine and banter, as well as inviting some of the German students we had befriended, giving us the opportunity to socialize with them further over a Kolsh (cologne’s own beer) or 10.
As it was the last day, everyone flitted about doing their own thing – some bought souvenirs, some went to visit the Lindt chocolate factory, some visited the nearby sport and arts museums, some went to a theme park. I took a boat trip down the Rhine and saw just some of the impressive architecture that Cologne had to offer. I also visited the Hohenzollern bridge, which is covered in padlocks that are inscribed with couples names. They attach their padlock to the bridge and throw the keys into the water, binding them together in love forever. Everybody say ‘awwwwwwww’! We then all had dinner together to mark the end of our last night as a group.
With gorgeous weather, interesting excursions, excellent culture and so many intriguing places to explore, it was fantastic trip all round. Highly recommended to anyone who is considering going next year, all credit goes to GCU for being excellent enough to provide the trip – make sure you get your name on the list early for 2014!