Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Aachen

Last Saturday I visited the German city of Aachen, which is only a couple of kilometers from the Belgian (and Dutch) border.

I find it amazing that in a matter of minutes, you can go from being in a totally Francophone environment, to being in a totally Germanophone environment. It actually threw me quite a bit, especially because I was with 2 friends who I always speak French with, so my brain struggled with the idea of speaking German instead. I noticed that this is the first time in perhaps 5 years that French has been easier for me, and this made me a bit sad! Although, later in the day, I did manage to say some things in German (somewhat) correctly. Going to have to work on that, methinks.

Everywhere I have visited so far seems to have examples of fantastic architecture - mostly these are churches or cathedrals, I guess because the church has historically been the entity with the most money, which does make you wonder why they spent it on fancy windows instead of the poor (I digress!) - and I have found it highly enjoyable to simply wander around and look at the environment I'm in. Even in the short distance between Germany and Belgium in this case, you can see that building styles change, and also socially there are some differences, for example in Germany there is less of the irrational desire to kiss everyone you want to greet.

It rained significantly, and although, as an English person, I never leave the house without an umbrella, we ended up sitting in cafes for a while so we weren't totally wet through. This is actually a great thing to do, if you want to 'accidentally' overhear what people are saying, because you are listening to (presumably) local people speaking naturally and informally. I suppose that is a bit of an odd passtime, but as an avid linguist, I do find it extremely interesting.

(If anyone is interested in how language changes between groups of people, that area of study is called sociolinguistics. There are lots of books about this available online, for example An Introduction to Sociolinguistics)

We also found a shop where essentials like hair products are half the price that they are in Belgium, meaning that if you buy a few products, the return ticket to Aachen actually pays for itself! Something tells me I will be visiting reasonably often.

Here are some pics, for those wondering what Aachen looks like. (I will be putting my pics here to avoid spamming everyone on Facebook)

:)












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