Dresden Trust Scholarship Reportage – William Marriage
Germany; the Land of the Sensible and Organised Loonies
I am consumed in unashamed germanophilia and, insofar as language is concerned at least, so are all other the other teenagers who take part in the Dresden Trust scholarship program. Having snatched victory from the vicious jaws of defeat by vaccine bureaucracy I was able to be awarded the elixir of life after just 3½ weeks and could scarcely contain my excitement at the prospect, more than anything else, of speaking German. Upon arrival at Schevenstraße 4, an impressive and uncompromisingly well gabled house, I instructed my hosts not to speak a word of English with me, I still don’t know whether they even could or not, and the stage was set for a wonderful linguistic adventure. I admit it was not entirely successful and sometimes communication did experience hiccups along the way: I recall being hot rather than to me being hot lösing a giggle or two aus.
My time in Dresden was perhaps the most vivid three weeks of my life. I found that the German people tend to view time in the same manner as hikers view backpacks, no corner is allowed to go empty, inefficiency is to be avoided at all cost; it is no wonder that they have Europe’s strongest economy, with such busy days I struggle to see how Germans can get up to anything which isn’t rapid and extensive achievement (airport building perhaps?). The Benno Gymnasium was, for me, utterly unique, and while I am pleased to have observed,
I am glad that I don’t have to do maths and other such atrocious impingements on self-determination as do my German counterparts. I feel that I should talk more of the Benno, but the Fish aside, it is essentially a school and there are some far more interesting aspects of my trip than my improved ability to navigate Scheitelpunkte.
Moving swiftly and smoothly onwards; therefore, one of the central pastimes of my hosts was cycling – as a keen cyclist I was naturally thrilled by the prospect of the majestic Saxon landscape floating passed my saddled eyes. However, this is where I had my single point of disagreement with my hosts, I am no great man of the velodrome, carbon fibre, and those funny thin tyres that the pros use, rather I prefer to cruise atop an exceedingly comfortable Dutch bike, although my Classic Royal Dutch Gazelle can get up a fair clip between the wheat fields of Suffolk it must be said, speed should not define the cycling experience, yet for my hosts it did, I was stoic, though, and didn’t complain about the absurd festival of engineering minimalism which I had to ride to Stolpen, I thoroughly recommend a visit, but cycling has never been ruined so wholesale. I shall return to Dresden and I shall cycle to Stolpen again, but I’m bringing my own bike next time.
Apologies for that. I was also treated to to climbing trip to the Sächsischse Schweiz which was utterly petrifying and I was lead up a sheer cliff face with some slightly nutty German teens without a whiff of the safety equipment anybody else had brought along that day to do the same thing. I must highlight however how beautiful Saxony is, and how incredibly diverse this beauty is, I do wish that the German instinct to care for and appreciate the world around could be taken up by the English, and particularly those that think that littering is somehow socially acceptable.
While I could go on, I feel that the most fulfilling aspect of the trip was the acquisition of friends. Not just with the locals (and I will cherish that) but also the other scholars. I was absolutely alone on arrival, I knew nobody for hundreds of miles, and yet to meet some of the most friendly warm people I could conceive was a great pleasure. They are eccentric, I think that comes with Dresden Stipendiatetum, and I had some incredible moments alongside them, and we have all decided that we shall return to Germany and Dresden some sunny day – by the way the weather was gorgeous. It is perhaps slightly embarrassing, at least deeply ironic, that the most personally significant part of a trip to Germany was meeting English people, oh well. We are bound though by an abnormal obsession with all things, sprachlich und sachlich, die etwas mit Deutsch zu tun haben.
If I were to give any Tipps, always lay the table, and make sure you can quote John Cleese in German (he’s even more popular there than he is here).
To the right there is a photograph of me (furthest right) hiking in the Sächsischen Schweiz with people I now call friends of mine.