Exchange in Germany

authors: Barbora Pomykáčková, Michaela Trhoňová, Viktorie Wolfová

Thanks to the project ‚‚Waking up in Baroque“, we had an opportunity to visit Germany with our professors Jolana Uhrinčaťová, Zita Smolková and our headmaster Aleš Jinoch. The members of our group were Viktorie Wolfová, Barbora Pomykáčková, Michaela Trhoňová, Jan Vedral, Filip Janda and Lukáš Hudík.

On Sunday, December 3, at 12 PM we met at Hlavní nádraží (Main train station) in Prague. Everyone was a bit nervous, but we were still looking forward to meeting our hosts. After half an hour delay we finally set off, firstly to Dresden, where we changed to another train, and later on arrived to the beautifully snowy Leipzig. In Leipzig we were welcomed by our host families and were taken ‚‚home“. They treated us very well during the whole stay.

We gathered for breakfast and then we rushed to school, Robert Schumann’s grammar school, where were welcomed by the headmaster Andreas Klingner and the leader of the project Alexandr Keeb. We were also given nice cloth bags, made especially for members of the project. We had a tour of the school and we participated in some lessons. We tried to comprehend as much as we could, but it was really difficult, because the teachers spoke only in German. Nevertheless, it was still an iteresting option to see lessons taught in a different way than we were used to. After the lessons we moved to the canteen, where was prepared a brunch for us. Later on, we went for a city tour. Every German student prepared a short speech about one baroque monument of Leipzig. We also visited Saint Thomas’s church, but unfortunantely, we could not go up the tower because of the heavy rain. In the evening, together with other students, we went to a Christmas market and tried out the  local speciality ‘Kräppelchen’.

On Tuesday morning, we had a short lesson about the Thirty Years’ War. Then we were divided into four groups, according to our interests and worked on various tasks for the last-evening presentation. The fashion group was working on baroque male and female costumes made from alternative materials. In the dancing group students were rehearsing baroque dances. The music group sang several baroque songs (Song of Peace, Ding Dong Bells, Anna Magdalena). The documentation group had to record the whole process. In the evening, there was a concert of the school band and also a disco.

On Wednesday morning we were very surprised, because we got Saint Nicholas’ presents from our temporary parents and later even from our headmaster. We visited Bach’s museum where we could listen to various Bachs’ music pieces and we also could try out to compose our own music. For lunch we got schnitzel as big as the whole plate. After lunch we went on a tour of Saint Thomas’s school, where boys from the world-famous choir Thomanerchor study. We spent Wednesday evening at bowling with all foreign students and teachers.

On Thursday we went on a trip to Dresden. At 9 AM we got on a bus, but the journey did not last too long, so after two hours we arrived in sunny Dresden. During our free time we visited the local Christmas market and after that we went on a guided city tour. The guide told us about history of the monuments we saw. The whole tour was complemented with various types of melodies played by street buskers, which went with the magnificent atmosphere of the city.

After returning to Leipzig, we went to the local church to a Christmas concert of the school choir. We were astonished by the children’s talent and in the end we even joined the final song.

Next day, we spent the whole morning completing our tasks in groups, so we could show it to everyone in the evening. Those who had already finished had free time and could go to the city for a walk and buy some souvenirs and presents. When the last preparations were done, the big evening could finally start. Students prepared a presentation about their country and their most famous baroque composer. Our Czech team introduced Adam Michna z Otradovic to others and we sang two of his songs, Nebeští kavalérové and Chtíc, aby spal. Our performance reaped a great success. Then, the dancing and music groups showed their performances and later on there was a fashion show of baroque costumes, made by students themselves. The documentation group played a short film edited from the recordings taken during the whole week. In the end we joined the barbecue and enjoyed our last moments with foreign students.

On Saturday morning, it was our last breakfast at the host families, we said goodbye and left to the railway station in Leipzig. Most German students and teachers also came there to say goodbye. During the whole way back, we ate snacks prepared by our host mothers, remembering the nice week we spent in Leipzig and we were thankful for such a unique experience.