Well, I’ve spent the last few days with students from MUDEC, and our unofficial STEP motto is now “we do what we want,” mostly because our program is a lot less guided than the MUDEC program. We are, however, enjoying the free activities that MUDEC has to offer us, including today’s bus tour around northern Luxembourg.
On Thursday, our “Integration” program began. We met all of the staff at MUDEC, enjoyed a free lunch, and listened to information about how life operates at MUDEC. Some of the information was unnecessary for us, but some of it (like learning about the Discovery Tours that we can participate in) was extremely helpful! In the afternoon, we skipped out on the “Discovery Tour of Differdange” (STEP kids do what they want) and explored the city a bit more. Tina and I also had to go back to the government building in order to correct our address (we accidentally told them the wrong one last time…oops), but it was MUCH easier than anticipated and not a big deal.
Friday was another meeting, this time to learn about the Library and IT services at MUDEC, and then a visit to the American and German Military Cemeteries where soldiers from the Battle of the Bulge are buried. After the cemetery visit, we participated in a scavenger hunt around Luxembourg City. All of the STEP kids went together, and we did a pretty great job (especially considering the MUDEC kids who were following us around, complaining that their feet hurt) only to find that none of the other groups actually participated in the scavenger hunt. Apparently our staff member/professor (there was one per group) didn’t get that memo, but we had fun and found a few corners of the city that we definitely want to go back to explore.
Today was a bus tour of northern Luxembourg for us (there were two other buses that had other destinations). Our first stop was a “Picnic opposite the Chateau de Vianden,” which consisted of Paprika chips, a sandwich (ham, buttered bread, pickles, and hard boiled eggs), an apple, and a chocolate bar. Sans pickles and eggs, the sandwich was decent, but apparently that combination is pretty typical in Luxembourg.
From there, we drove into the town of Vianden (where I was very impressed by the bus driver’s skills. I felt like I was on the Knight Bus, yet I’m pretty sure there was no magic involved and we still didn’t hit anything or anybody). It’s a medieval town, and the assistant dean of Miami’s Luxembourg campus was reminding us all about hygiene habits of the medieval ages as we drove through (waste being thrown out of windows, etc.). Our destination in town was the bottom of a chair lift, which we rode up to the top of the mountain before hiking down a little ways to the Chateau. The Assistant Dean, Raymond, actually had an uncle who was a guard for the Chateau before it was rebuilt, and he used to play on it as a child (when it was ruins), so he was able to tell us a lot of background information that wasn’t posted throughout the exhibits. For example, he told us all about how well-liked each of the Dukes/Duchesses of Luxembourg were, and what their roles were in world history, which was fascinating!
After Vianden, we made our way to Remich and the Caves of St. Martin, which is actually a winery. We toured the caves, learning about how to make both wine and champaign (champaign takes a long time to make! Lots of fermenting necessary, and then a complicated process to take out the dead yeast without losing too much of the pressure in the bottle). We had a nice tasting of the champaign before loading back on the bus and heading to Schueberfouer, which I had already been to. We ate dinner there, though, and then called it a day.
Tomorrow my host mom is going to teach us how to make jam, and the plan is to research for our travel plans the next few weeks!