Just before Christmas a group of Classicists spent a week in Munich as the first part of the annual Faculty exchange with the Institute of Classical Archaeology in Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität. As the exchange’s official Res Gerendae reporter, I’m writing a bit about what the week was like, in the hopes of convincing everyone who hasn’t yet been on one to sign up for next year’s. Which I reckon should be pretty easy to do when I say that most of the time that wasn’t spent in Christmas markets drinking Glühwein (or beer) was spent in beer halls drinking beer (or Glühwein).
To anyone who might unreasonably feel that a Classics exchange trip ought to involve more cultural and educational activities than the above implies, I can reassure you on two points:
1) The beer-drinkers present found that drinking beer in a country where they serve it by the litre – even at breakfast – is an education in itself.
2) Somehow, we did actually find time for a considerable number of other cultural/educational/even sporting activities: Bernhard’s Famous City Walk (justifiably famous, but perhaps better suited to a summer visit…); ice-skating at the Olympiapark; visiting churches, palaces, a Bavarian castle, art galleries, and – rather more sombrely – Dachau. For the purposes of justifying the Faculty’s funding of our trip, we even found time for some Classics, in the form of tours of the Glyptothek and Antikensammlung museums, plus Jacob’s seminar on ‘Plato’s Solar Theology’, which generated much discussion on subjects as diverse as the classical Athenian cult of Zeus Meilichios and the semantics of the word ‘atheist’. (There, that should keep any Faculty members who might be reading this happy.) I should also point out that most of us had every intention of going to some of the classes on the programme, until we realised that, being regular university classes, these were all going to be in German… (non-German-speakers, you certainly shouldn’t be put off going; kudos to the few people who could manage whole conversations in German, but ‘Ich bin eine Studentin’ was the longest and most syntactically complex utterance I managed all week, and it’s probably wrong anyway. German is definitely not a requirement.)
All in all, I’d highly recommend the Munich exchange to anyone – undergraduate/graduate, fluent German speaker/complete novice – as a chance to visit a great city with some amazing sights, experience a proper Bavarian Christmas, possibly even to learn a bit of Classics and/or German, and especially to make a lot of new friends – from Cambridge and Munich. Which brings me to the most important point of this post – to say a huge thank-you to our exchange partners, who were all incredibly generous in letting us stay in their houses and even giving up their own rooms, supplying us with (copious quantities of) food and drink, showing us around the city, taking us out on trips, and generally looking after us extremely well, despite still having classes and revision for exams. We’re all looking forward to hosting their return visit to Cambridge in March – so, to everyone in Munich, vielen Dank, und auf Wiedersehen!