Welcome to Erfurt: Friendly People in a Wintery Wonderland

Editors Note: A group of W&L Law students are currently  in Germany for an intensive week-long exploration of German law and legal culture. The German Comparative Law Academy, organized by Prof. Russ Miller, brings together American and German law students for a scholarly exchange on both countries’ legal systems, with an emphasis on Constitutional Law. Below is the first in a series of posts authored by W&L students about their experiences in Germany.

by Teressa Campbell

Day one of the Constitutional Law Academy was off to a great start. Despite all arriving from different parts of the United States, most of the group managed to congregate at Frankfurt Airport Station without a hitch. We would all now travel by train to the charming mid-sized East German city of Erfurt. After periodic naps and two and half hours of traveling through the German countryside we arrived safely in a cold grey Erfurt.

At the local train station, we were met by our German host Professor Hoffmann and two of his American students, who took us by tram on a fifteen minute journey to the University of Erfurt’s campus, which is situated just outside the city center. The students were kind enough to help us settle in to life at the University and engaged us in an interesting discussion of the differences between life in Erfurt and life in the United States.

With room keys exchanged, beds made and internet access up and running, we were left to our own devices for a few hours. By dinnertime everyone had arrived safely in Erfurt and we were guided into what had become a very snowy city. We ventured via tram to a local restaurant for a commencement dinner, which was a special treat organized by Professor Hoffmann. Robust conversation about everything from the law to why we chose to attend law school and where the best clubs were, was followed by a few rounds of local beer and delicious meals comprising of traditional German dishes. Our appetites satisfied and the lingering start of “classes” in a few short hours meant the group soon dispersed.

Opening Dinner in Erfort, Germany

Opening Dinner in Erfort, Germany

Our journey back to the university dorms was led by a University of Erfurt International student from Brazil who treated us to an informal walk around tour and brief history of the Erfurt city center. Her passion for and admiration of the city was clear and helped us appreciate the town from a local’s point of view. The city’s long history and architecture are fascinating. The blanket of snow now covering the town and the moonlight both served to make the tour all just a tad bit magical.

Following another short tram ride, we made it back to our dorms and ascended the numerous flights of stairs to our respective rooms. Everyone was cold, jet-lagged and bleary eyed but nonetheless excited to experience all that would unfold in the following week.

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