I can’t get over the fact that Germans have to continue going to university in the summer. My semester here in Heidelberg began only in the middle of April, and will continue on until the end of July, at which point I, and my fellow exchange students, will have about a month of summer left. But I am somewhat unsure as to whether I prefer this system over ours or not. I am certainly glad to have gotten two months off from mid-February until mid-April, but at the same time, those months are a good deal drearier than June and July. On the other hand, I have noticed that I, and many of my friends, work more efficiently in the summer. It might be that the sun puts us in better moods; it might be that we simply want to get out to the Neckarwiese, the beautiful lawns on the banks of the Neckar, as fast as possible. But no one seems to complain as much as they did during the Winter Semester about the amount of work that they have.
Luckily, though, German university is not demanding enough to prevent leisure time. A few weekends ago I hiked up to Kloster Neuburg, a monastery down the Neckar from Heidelberg, where famous authors and poets have written. I was originally motivated to see it when I learned that Klaus Mann, who I will write my senior thesis on, worked on his earliest novels and plays there. But, upon arriving, after a relatively short walk from Heidelberg’s Altstadt, I was struck by the serenity of the place. It has a gorgeous enclosed field with a massive tree, as well as rose gardens near the walls of the enclosure. The whole building looks out over the Neckar, which bends right between the monastery and Heidelberg, so that a view of one is blocked from the other. After finishing exploring, I hiked through the Odenwald, an activity that I had missed from the fall months, back to Heidelberg.