Aachen, Germany

October 17 marked an important occasion for me: my first excursion into Germany! It was a short trip, and not a terribly far distance from Maastricht, but it was yet quite a lovely day to visit a wonderful city with some wonderful ladies (all friends of course, mind you). This trip would also mark my second time visiting a new country outside of the United States (not counting the United Kingdom because, seriously, I was only at Heathrow for barely an hour).

So here’s the part where I am going to post a bunch of pictures with brief explanations and y’all can gawk and enjoy!

 

Charlemagne's casket

This particular photo above I wanted to pull out of the gallery specifically because of its historical significance with the giant gold thing in the background. It appears to be a gold cathedral-looking thing, but in reality it’s a casket made in 1215 by Frederick II, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Within the casket houses the remains of (WHAT FOR IT) Charlemagne, King of the Franks, first emperor of the Carolingian Empire. Chances are you may have slept through this awesome part of history class, which is unfortunate because this man had a vast influence on the Middle Ages (or theĀ Dark AgesĀ for you backward hillbillies who insist nothing happened between the Fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance).

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 420 AD – by that point in history, the Roman Empire had split into Eastern and Western divisions, with the Eastern Roman Empire taking on the name of the Byzantine Empire and existing for another millennia until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD – there was little in the way of kingdoms for a few hundred years. The shining beacon during the Early Middle Ages was the rise of the Frankish Kingdom (thusly, the name of France deriving from the Franks). The Frankish Kingdom was not a particularly large kingdom, but eventually a man by the name of Charles I came into ruling. Within time, Charles would eventually take on the name of Charles the Great, aka Charlemagne, and founding the Carolingian Empire, which would come to rule a vast part of western Europe for nearly a century.

So I got to see the gold and silver casket of a long-dead European emperor. Definitely the highlight of the Aachen trip.

Fearless

Today, I walked up from Avant Garde to Hogeschool Zuyd, which, if you’ve read before in these posts, is no small feat. The walk takes nearly an hour by foot, which comes out to be a few miles/several kilometers, which typically leaves my feet sore for about an hour (thankfully I recover quickly). Yes, I will eventually get a bike, but that hasn’t been in my cards lately. So far, going by way of foot is serving me just fine.

On the academic side of things, I am fully registered for my classes at Zuyd and begin said classes on the 17th September! Next week I should be seeing the arrival of my full class schedule, so patience is my new game to play.

With that errand accomplished, I decided that I would zig-zag my way through Maastricht back to Avant Garde, by taking streets that I have yet laid my eyes upon. You know, prior to coming out to the Netherlands, situations such as this (mindlessly wondering the streets) were not something that I would be akin to doing. Even the thought of doing a semester of study abroad never fully crossed my mind; it’s much too scary to be living in an environment that I am not familiar with. Granted, that’s an element of human nature that’s in us all – everyone feels that sense of unease when we feel displaced from the habitat that we have longed call “home.” What it takes to see the fuller picture of the world, and that of humanity, is learning to fight fear by becoming fearless and taking the plunge.

Never did I once feel fear when I departed Kansas City, nor did I feel fear when I was far from home in London; on the long train ride to Maastricht, fear never raised its head, nor was it ever there through my first night woes ‘homeless’ in Maastricht. Like a skydiver about to make their first dive, I quelled that fear, banished it, and now it’s no more. I honestly can feel that I can walk to Germany, fly to Scotland, or take a train into France and not once feel uneasy at all.

And besides, fear of exploring could have kept me from getting this amazing photo of Maastricht:

Maastricht

When you explore, beautiful things happen. This was one for me.