Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Frat House

While Koblenz was nothing that I expected, nor was it 100% everything that I wanted from a city (I miss the beach. sob sob sob), I really do feel at home here.

I've travelled a lot around Germany in the short 4 years that I've had an active interest in its language, culture and history. I've lived in a small town in Niedersachsen with my ex-boyfriend, visited Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin, Köln, Aachen and Bremen, as well as festival and concert hopping in 2010. Now finally, for 2 months I've lived in Koblenz, one of the largest cities in Rheinland-Pfalz in the south-west of Germany.
I certainly do have adventures when I'm in Germany.

After having a tremendously difficult time finding a fucking apartment, and experiencing some awful, smelly old dumps on my way, I found myself invited to live in large room a traditional german Burschenschaft.

Burschenschaften receive a lot of bad press. As old-style student fraternities dating from the 1810's, often with traditional dress worn at events and with old-school fencing duels, it's not hard to see why. The modern view, that anything traditional, German and basing itself on ideas of collaboration and unity, only seems to stir up images of right-wing extremism and nationalistic thought. However, I've found that not to
be the case at all.

What sort of right-wing nationalist student fraternity would allow a gay, British man to live within their walls?
Not to mention a gay, British man with an often less-than-perfect command of the German language....

It's nice here. I have a lovely large room, a great big bed and there's quite an open community feel here. Everyone I've met so far has been welcoming, interested in myself and excited at the fact that I really do like living here and excited that I take an active interest in their events etc.

I must admit to feeling a little out of my depth at times, especially as I'm the house guest of people who have lived together for a few years, or even longer, and sometimes I don't entirely understand what's going on. I guess that's just a normal part of living abroad in an apartment with locals.

The frat guys who live here are really interesting characters too. I live with an entire spectrum of people, ranging from heavy-metal loving architecture students, to mousy, calm, collected ones, all the way through to the manly beer drinkers and the ones who take care of themselves and certainly look the part. I have missed living with guys. Living with girls is difficult sometimes....

If nothing else, this living situation of mine has certainly broadened my horizons and made realise just how diverse and yet spiritually-bound people really can be.

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