September 14, 2014

Is Home Where the Heart Is?

Post by: Desi Buchanan, AMBEX Fall 2014



This week marked the beginning of my school program at AmBex (short for American-Bavarian Exchange). It is centered in Regensburg, Germany, a beautiful city in the state of Bavaria, known for its iconic cathedral skyline and old city charm. I love this quaint city already — the old cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, ancient cathedrals and churches, all the cafes and restaurants…
When I met the group of thirteen students last Saturday at the famous Hofbrauhaus in Munich, I was all nerves. We awkwardly learned the elementary facts about each other and saw a bit of the city before piling in large vans to make the two hour drive to Regensburg. We are living in Jugendherberge Regensburg, a youth hostel across the river from old town. Rooms are filled with bunk beds, a desk and maybe even sink or two. There are communal WC (water closet = bathrooms) and showers. It reminds me a lot of my dorm at The Masters College, except everything – classes, dining hall, bathrooms, showers, rooms – are in one building.
This week has primarily been an orientation week. We started the academic part of the semester with European Culture, Geography, and History, taught by the director of the program, Jerry Orr. His daughter Kelley has also been teaching us a bit of German, as well as the practical things like how to use the train and bus systems, where to shop for groceries, and taking us to the traditional regional fair. We have been on two tours of the old town part of Regensburg, which includes incredibly architecture, rich history, and the all-important gelato stop. My favorite part of the week was the canoeing trip. We went to a town called Kallmunz, where there is an old fortress from the Thirty Years War. From there we rented some canoes and took a trip down the river. Along the way we stopped at rope swing and took our turn swinging into the cold water. Definitely one for the books. (P.S. My clothes still aren’t dry!) 
As for the people in my group — they are amazing. We are all getting along so well even after only a week together. Our time together in characterized by laughter, deep talks, and memories that are sure to last long after we leave. Even simple things like going to the laundromat (called Waschsalon) in town hold the opportunity to experience and learn and laugh.
The highlight of this week was going to Nueschwanstein Castle, which is one of the incredible castles that King Ludwig built. This particularly castle provided Walt Disney with the template which he patterned the iconic Disney castle after. It was a steep mile walk to the castle and then we went on a guided tour of the inside, which included King Ludwig’s throne room, bedchambers, reading nooks, and much more. It was beautifully ornate and spectacular in design. The amount of detail in everything was overwhelming to take in. Unfortunately we were unable to take pictures of the inside of the castle, but I’m sure a quick Google search would suffice if you are curious. My friend Emily and I also made a quick trek up to Marienbrücke, a bridge crossing the waterfall and river which runs in the Alps as a backdrop to the castle. All in all, a stunning scene.
Tomorrow we will spend our second Sunday at Lifestream Church. The services are in German, but still, it is such a fun time of fellowship. Everyone is welcoming and friendly, and I can’t wait to continue to cultivate new friendships, not only in the AmBex program but also with the people I meet during my time here. 
I have already fallen in love with Regensburg, Germany (my new home), but I miss my home in California everyday. I have decided that home can be a number of places, but most importantly, home is where the people are. Because my heart is drawn to people, it is in many different cities, states, countries, and now continents.    


April 16, 2014

Tage Die Wiese (Days like these)...

The Final Chapter
Home in Regensburg, Germany


On days like these, one can only wish that moments like these wouldn't pass by so fast. As surely as the sun sets, our time at Ambex is reaching dusk. Students here take one of their last free afternoons to go on a hike with Director Jerry Orr, "Coach" as we call him, and get treated to some ice cream.


On this beautiful afternoon students took the river boat down the Donau River on the way to the Walhalla Monument along the river banks. Over 1,780 miles long, this international waterway touches more than 10 countries and is the 2nd largest river in all of Europe.


Here on the steps of this grand monument "Coach" Jerry Orr lectures on the significance of this architecture. Here inside this "Parthenon-esque" structure, over 130 busts of distinguished Germans spanning over 2,000 years of history lies within the walls. These famous sons and daughters of Germany are honored here in this hall for the contributions made to the German people and the world as a whole. People such as Martin Luther, Johann Sebastian Bach, Albert Einstein, and Sophie Scholl (leader of the White Rose Society who fought the tyranny of the Nazi Regime by the spreading of anti-Nazi propaganda.)



Where men, kegeling, and German fleisch meet, legendary times are guaranteed to follow. The men of AMBEX share their last Guys Night and last laughs together as the end of the year draws to a matter of days.



Countries where Spring '14 left their footprints this semester. 
"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to." -J.R.R. Tolkien



The chapter of Ambex Spring '14 has come to a close as students spend their last free night together by the open flames of a river-front fire. Whilst this chapter may have come to a close for these students, one can only be excited for the book of their lives that they have yet to finish reading. Where one chapter ends, the next must be written. There is no telling where these students will be in the coming years, but in following their Father, we have confidence and faith that their life journey is in good hands. Jeremiah 29:11.





April 01, 2014

Venice

Venezzia!

As part of our Art History class, AMBEX is spending a week in beautiful Italy! First stop: Venice

Our Art History prof, Collette Tennant, introducing the class at the cute B&B we're staying in just outside of Venice.

The best views of Venice are from the water. Here's a few of our AMBEXers on a Vaporetta (water taxi) on the way to San Marcos square.

Gondolas!!

This thousand-year-old city is rich in Architecture

Lectures on the go :)

San Marcos square just before our tour of the Doge's Palace


March 30, 2014

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music

Salzburg, Austria


The Hills are Alive here in Salzburg, Austria where the AMBEXers return from their last independent travel week to have some fun with the Sound of Music tour.

Here students reenact the classic picture from the Sound of Music movie starring Julie Andrews.




At the gates of the Nonnberg Convent. This is the same convent that Maria Von Trapp was a postulant at. She, intending to become a nun, fell in love with Col. Von Trapp and thus ended her service here at the convent. 


Unlike what the Sound of Music film portrays, the students above were able to see the actual home that the Von Trapp family lived in. Both the wedded couple and Col. Von Trapp's 7 children lived in these walls, but not long before settling in did the family have to flee to America to escape the conflict of World War II. While abroad, the family continued to sing as the Von Trapp Family Singers and toured throughout America making a living on their popular performances.


Kylie, Tessa, Hannah, and Sarah having a good laugh as they attempt to mimic the statue behind them.




While half of the class continued with the Sound of Music sights tour, half of the group went on a hike with Director Jerry Orr to the vast beauty of Berchtesgaden! Here students were able to hike in the breath-taking Bavarian Alps and see some of Germany's iconic "calendar-esque" scenery.


And "that's a wrap!" Here's to our adventurous time in Austria! We will see you in Italy next! :)



March 29, 2014

Study-Travel Week 3

Last Independent Travel Week!
22-29 MARCH 2014

The Cornwall Crew

 From left to right, Missy, Olivia and Erica spent their last and final travel week in Cornwall, England where they had a relaxing week at a quiet cabin resort.


Tessa to Finland!
Off to the north, Tessa Carver spent her week catching up with a dear friend in Helsinki, Finland. She spent her week traveling throughout Finland, taking in the beautiful flatland scenery there.


Tyler to Israel!
Here Tyler Beard made a new friend on the Mt. Olives in Israel. Tyler took his independent travel week to go visit friends studying at The Master's College's IBEX Semester Abroad program. He had the opportunity to be a part of some archaeological digs taking place there.


The UK Group
 The Highlands! This beautiful shot taken by David Beeghly shows the vast wonders and beauty of the Scottish Highlands. This group spent the week traveling & hiking the highlands, seeing the sights of both Edinburgh and London and even made it as far as Fort William, in search of a Scottish adventure!

Here from left to right, David, Chase and Taylor, had the chance to hit  balls on the driving range of the famed St. Andrew's Links golf course.


Katy on the Road
This last week for Katy was spent with her parents on an EPIC roadtrip throughout Europe. 6 Countries in 7 days is quite the feat!


Föhr Islanders!


Kylee Mac, Sarah, Hannah and Kylie Hineman spent their last week on the island of Föhr, located in the upper reaches of northern Germany. It was on this island that they often enjoyed bike riding and spending time at the beach.


Kate to the Republic of Ireland!

Kate started out her week with a few other AMBEXers in London, and then met up with a friend to take in the beautiful sights and flavors of Ireland.

A successful end to their final independent travel week, students made their way by plane, train, ferry and bus to the amazing city of Salzburg, Austria where the AMBEX staff were awaiting their arrival. It is from here that the students will make an epic 9 day academic tour through Austria and Italy. Stay tuned!

March 21, 2014

Modern European Literature


Regensburg, Germany


An opening word from Professor Jim Hills,

In 1867 Matthew Arnold published “Dover Beach,” a poem noting the ebbing of “the sea of faith,” and lamenting the consequences of that ebbing, a world in which he found “neither joy, nor love, nor light/ nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain, ”  and asserted that “we are here as on a darkling plain/ swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,/ where ignorant armies clash by night.”
It seems that in Europe, especially, that ebb tide has continued unabated, has perhaps even accelerated, since the publication of Arnold’s famous poem. This course will examine the nature of that ebbing, identify possible reasons for it, and propose Christian responses, healing ones, we believe, to the physical, psychic and spiritual injuries of the past century and a half.
The great question of our times is whether there is transcendent meaning in the universe, some intention operating in cosmic and human affairs, and whether such an intention is at least partially discoverable.
Christians, among others, insist that the universe does have meaning, and human beings have value that is no less than sacred. We also insist that the Maker and Sustainer of all creation has revealed Himself to us in a variety of ways, including conscience, scripture and The Incarnation: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
We may see “through a glass darkly,” but we are not blind, and what we see points us in the direction of hope.
What follows is the route we will follow in our brief excursion into contemporary European though as revealed in a necessarily limited selection of representative works of literature.




Part of the teaching style of Professor Jim Hills is for the involvement of the students in the learning process. Here Olivia Andvik is lecturing to the class about the strategies used by the Nazi Regime to eradicate the Jewish race.





This student group chose to using performing arts to help sink in the information they deemed the most essential to understanding the happenings of the Wannsee Conference. 




Here Jim Hills lectures on human nature and the human condition as defined in scripture.






After two hard weeks of "jam-packed" learning, Professor Hills treated the class to late night pizza. Here at the local pizza shop in Regensburg there was a very cheerful celebration for the strong finish of the class.

March 17, 2014

A day in Nürnberg




Today we made our way an hour north of our home in Regensburg to the Nazi Document Center in the city of Nürnberg. In WWII this city used to be used as the Nazi Party rally grounds. Hundreds of thousands of Germans would make their way to Nürnberg once a year to these massive gatherings as a celebration/symbol of the party's strength in Germany. Massive structures and stadiums were built to hold and house these masses. Today, many of them are destroyed, but some survived and serve as an eerie reminder of the dark past of the Third Reich.




Throughout the Nazi Document Center there was a rich amount of information about the Third Reich and Nazi Regime, but nothing as unique and interesting as this exhibit about the Nazi propaganda film "Triumph of the Will." This film, now illegal to possess and/or watch in Germany is shown here in this exhibit in mere analytical segments for educational purposes. Here students Kylee, Kate, Kylie and Olivia listen in on the documentary film.






Olivia, Chase, and Sarah walk along the steps of the old Zeppelin Field which used to serve as one of the main fields for the Nazi Party rallies. 









After the Nazi Documentation Center we made our way to old town Nürnberg. Here students were able to take a photo with the beautiful old town providing a great backdrop from this castle top view. 










With the day winding down, the class stopped into Nürnberg's oldest Bratwurst House, dating back to its establishment in the 14th century. Here we were able to grab some delicious brats and kraut/taters before heading back home to Regensburg.






March 06, 2014

Travel Week Zwei!

01-09 MARCH 2014

This week marks the half-way point for these AMBEXers and it is a rewarding week to be able to travel and relax (with some preparatory studies). Students during this week traveled extensively throughout central Europe and one group to Eastern Europe/Asia.


The PARIS and Boarding Four


From left to right: Tessa, Lexie, Missy and Erica enjoy the must see sights of the beautiful city of Paris. Their group stayed in Paris for 5 days enjoying all that the city had to offer them, from the Eiffel Tower, to Notre Dame, to the Louvre and much more.


From Paris the girls made their way to Switzerland and to the world famous Swiss Alps. Here the girls enjoyed a full day of Snowboarding in Arosa, Switzerland. For two of these girls it was the first time snowboarding, and I couldn't think of a better way to spend your first day on the slopes than in SWISS ALPS!



The PORTO Peops


This group spent the week in Porto, Portugal. From spending time at the beach surfing to taking walking tours throughout the city, Olivia, Ty, Kylie and Katy had a blast getting to adapt and live in the Portugese culture. One night they decided to make tacos with the local produce/meat and they turned out to be the "best tacos ever" as they have said.






A beautiful view overlooking Porto with these TMC pals. 




Super SWITZ Sarah

For Sarah's second travel week she had the privilege of staying with a missionary family in Payerne, Switzerland. She got to be fully immersed into the French speaking culture and enjoyed getting to know the family and the people at their church. She was able to take day trips to Bern, the capital of Switzerland, as well as Geneva. 



Here Sarah stands in front of the statues of Genevan Reformation leaders William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and John Knox in Geneva, Switzerland.






This week's Rambunctious ROADIES

David, Hannah, Kate and Kylie "road-tripped" through Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands!! All in one week! They experienced Carnival celebrations, in both Germany and Switzerland, visited the Swiss Alps, Hiked the Black Forest, visited French towns, went to the beach in Bruges, Belgium, and ate breakfast in a park in Nijmegen. They met a lot of great people through couch surfing and received a brief overview of many European towns.





Students Kate, Kylie, and David crammed inside their compact rental car they named Rupert. Quite a fitting name for a car that is relative in size to that of a gerbil :) .






Here the group take a stroll through the Black Forest!



TURKEY TRIO





This Trio, Chase, Taylor and myself spent the week exploring the wonders of Istanbul, Turkey. We had the opportunity to experience fine Turkish cuisine at the Babylonia restaurant with our new Turkish friends Emin and Oktay (Top left photo). The three of us enjoyed the Turkish nightlife with some night bowling and had a very unique experience in receiving the cultural Turkish Bath.This remarkable and one of a kind city is located on both sides of the Bosphorous Strait making this city located in Europe while the other half of the city is located in the western most part of Asia.
All of these experiences made for an amazing trip while surrounded by the ancient history of the former Roman city of Constantinople.







March 01, 2014

Heidelberg

Worms, and Heidleberg, Germany


On our way to Heidelberg, Germany, our class took a slight detour and purposefully landed ourselves in Worms. Worms is one of the three oldest towns in Germany, and also played a significant role in the Protestant Reformation. In this city, Martin Luther faced the imperial diet of the Holy Roman Empire commonly known as the Diet of Worms. Here Luther was asked to recant and to this he replied,

"Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen."



The St. Peter's Cathedral in Worms. Here it is Taylor's turn to student lecture about the happenings in Worms during the Protestant Reformation.





Ambexers are having fun imitating their favorite Protestant Reformers.




The next and final stop of our Reformation Tour brings us to the beautiful and romantic city of Heidelberg.






This photo is taken inside the plaza of the Heidelberg Castle which now lies mostly in ruins due to war and natural disaster. However, this plaza remains almost entirely intact and provides a great backdrop for this well choreographed group photo!



This picturesque town of Heidelberg is host to over a million people stopping in to take in its beauty each year. In the background lies the ruins of the Heidelberg castle. Restoration projects were going to be made to restore this castle to its former glory but residents argued that the castle in ruins was much more unique and retained an imaginative and mysterious beauty that the decision was made to leave the castle as it lies. 







This beautiful view ends the jam packed week of the Reformation Tour. The students are off to their travel weeks tomorrow so stay tuned to their adventures in Portugal, France, Switzerland and Turkey!


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