I have wanted to visit Munich properly for a few years now after passing through the Bavarian capital on the way to a sporting event in Austria in 2015. I had seen, even at a glance, how rich the streets were in history and culture and the gateway challenge funding allowed me to explore the city in more depth; I was particularly eager to appreciate matters outside of the ‘STEM’ subjects that I have spent the last year, and hope to spend the majority of my life, studying intensively.
On the first day, after a morning of travelling, we walked the streets of Munich which were lined with buildings dating back centuries ago, including some of their famous beer halls. The streets told a story of the city’s history and the contrast of the old buildings with the newer ones was really interesting. Later on we visited the highly celebrated Deutsches Museum; it was exciting to see exhibitions connecting to content that I had covered this year such as the various experiments performed by Galileo to Einstein, as well as exhibitions relating to more unfamiliar fields of science such as nanotechnologies (which may not be so unfamiliar to me in years to come!). After visiting the museum we were lucky enough to have beautiful weather and were able to paddle in the fresh alpine waters of the river running alongside the museum.
The next day we used Munich’s tram network to tour the English Garden in the town centre, again in the wonderful sunshine which made the greenery, wildlife and the plethora of monuments and sculptures all the more picturesque. During the visit I was able to sit and write some poetry; writing and reading poetry is one of my favourite hobbies and with the setting of the 910 acre gardens I found myself inspired and content to relish in such an activity that I normally do not have enough time or space to do.
Another activity I found myself enjoying over the trip was running; I am a keen athlete and have competed for the university this past year and I found that my sport really enabled me to explore the city further and more deeply; I spent time running alongside the Isar river and through the Bavarian woodlands, which was incredibly gratifying even if it did require a few early starts in order to miss the midday heat!
On day three we visited Neuschwanstein castle which required two tubes, one train and two buses to get to as well as a very sweaty climb up 1500m of the rugged hill on which it is situated . The journey was more than worth it and I know that I will remember our visit to such a beautiful building for the rest of my life. The castle was commissioned by King Ludwig II, the mad king of Bavaria, and was built to resemble a castle similar to those in fairy tales and to honour Wagner’s operas. The view from the top of the castle was simply breathtaking and the inside of the castle fascinating; upon arriving back at home, I visited the library to get my hands on some books about the history of the Bavarian king and his Romanesque castles.
My trip to Munich has encouraged me to delve into new aspects of history and learn more about subjects that I otherwise would not have considered, as well as providing me with the inspiration to tap into my own creativity and non-academic interests. This was such a fantastic opportunity and added to the multitude of things I have learnt this year as part of the gateway programme in college, which has proved to be crucial for my development not only as a student and scientist but as an independent young adult. I am looking forward to the next year of lessons and opportunities the programme will have to offer!