Early on this year, I was invited to come visit a town in Germany called Tübingen, just outside of Stuttgart. Now, I had never heard of Tübingen before and knew absolutely nothing about the place, so naturally I eagerly agreed to go without any hesitation. A free stay, a local's perspective, and absolutely no preconceived ideas of what to expect? Sounds like my definition of perfect.
I was to stay with a group of students from the university, which apparently is what connects most of the city together, and I first noticed something special right upon my arrival. I ascended the staircase to the flat, and was instantly greeted by a warm communal feel unparalleled to anything I'd experienced with colleges back in the US. Instead of doors, there were sheets and curtains (except the bathroom; that did have a real door), and friends of the residents seemed to come and go freely. There was a common kitchen in which everyone took turns cooking and preparing meals for whoever happened to be hungry. In short, it was amazingly hospitable. And this didn't end with the flat either. It seemed like the whole city, wherever I went was open and welcoming in the same sense.
Not to mention, but the city itself was so fascinating too. Having grown up in North America, I sometimes forget that cities aren't always so planned and grid-like, and that sometimes, they just happen and develop over a period of time. And Tübingen's medieval center was a solid reminder of just that. After hearing of its existence, I decided to make the trek over there first thing in the morning, and when I got there, I felt as if I were a simpleton from the 1910s who just happened to stumble into a cinema for the first time. Everywhere I looked, twisting cobblestone streets wove three way up hills and around asymmetrical red-roofed buildings. Every building was constructed in an entirely different design while green trees sprouted in every direction. I was in a state of wonder, amazed by all of it. But best of all, the whole old town rose up to a medieval castle rested atop the highest point of the city. It was as if a fairy tale had come to life and I got the chance to be part of it
The new city was incredibly impressive as well. Up and down every street existed this vibrant, heavily student influenced atmosphere. Bicycles could be seen everywhere, and intermittently, university buildings mixed within houses and cafes. This was actually the place where I found out the about most amazing feature of the city (yes, even more than the castle). Walking past the philosophy building, my friend Anne pointed over, introduced the building, and said, "This is probably the most famous building here. It's where Hegel studied." I had to do a double take. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel? To you, my readers, this may not mean much, but to me, this was incredible. The man who developed a philosophy surrounded upon a narrative of history, fusing my two greatest interests, and influencing such later minds of Marx and Nietzsche actually studied here as a student. I felt as if I had just completed my pilgrimage to philosophy's Mecca and it felt wonderful.