Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Black Forest Dorms

So what does it look like to attend boarding school in Germany? Read along for a glimpse into the BFA boarding program…

Along with attending classes, dorm life is an integral part of the BFA student experience. Of the 250 high schoolers who attend the school, about 60% are dorm students. There are eight high school dorms at BFA—each one different from the next. 

 On Thursday night, the new staff had the opportunity to take a grand tour of all the BFA high school dorms. Since Kandern is such a small community, most of these dorms are spread throughout the neighboring German villages. Piling into two BFA vans, we prepared to depart on a 3 hour adventure of visiting dorms and meeting the 2013-14 Res Life staff.

Our journey began with a stop at Palmgarten and Maugenhard. These two dorms are the only ones located right in the center of Kandern. Because of their close proximity to the main campus, students at Palm and Maug have the luxury of walking to school when the weather is nice. Palm was originally built as a hotel (much like our ever-beloved Garni), but now accommodates between 20-22 girls. Above Palm, is the newest of the BFA dorms, Maugenhard. It too, is fairly large, housing between 20-24 boys. My favorite feature of these dorms would have to be the enormous kitchen in Maug and the stairway to nowhere in Palm. I guess if you’re feeding 24 high school boys, you had better have a huge kitchen! As for the stairway to nowhere, I suppose it just makes Palm even more unique. :)

Check out Liel's green fireplace to the left!
After Palm and Maug, we took a 10 minute drive to the village of Liel. One of the oldest buildings in the BFA dorm collection, Landhaus Liel (known simply as Liel) was built around the year 1760. No big deal or anything, but that’s 16 years older than the entire United States of America! As a result of Liel’s impressive age, the floor has started to sag a little bit, which means that BFA will have to find a replacement building in the next year or so. My favorite feature in the girl’s dorm of Liel would have to be the lovely green fireplace…which doesn’t actually work anymore, but is still a really cool visual piece.

Yup, that's a real stork!
After Liel we proceeded to Storchenblick, known for short as Storch. Originally a village school, this girl’s dorm got its name due to the beautiful view of nesting storks that can be seen on a neighboring church tower. This dorm was one of my favorites—very artistic with a warm and home-like feel.

Storch Dining Room
Archway into HBR
Haus Bad Riedlingen was the next dorm on our tour. Known commonly as HBR, the 20 boys that live in this dorm often joke that “bad” is their middle name. Built around 1750, this dorm is even older than Liel! The original building had a mineral spring bath. One of my favorite features of the dorm was the large painted sign that hung over the front entrance.

And...another dorm room! (boy's)
Inside a typical dorm room (girl's)

 Wittlingen (pronounced with a “v” sound) was originally built as a combination inn, country store, and gas station. I would say that it has the most confusing and exciting layout of all the dorms we visited. Secret rooms in the north tower, fire escapes to the roof, hidden basements, and a lovely backyard were all a part of the Wittlingen experience. Witt accommodates between 18-20 girls. One of my roommates, Julie, used to live at Witt when she was a high school student at BFA!

Outside of Wittlingen

The final two dorms on the tour were located about 10 kilometers away from Kandern in the beautiful hillside village of Marzell. These dorms included Blauen, a girls dorm with lovely blue shutters, and Sonnenhof, a boys dorm with a castle-like appeal. Although these dorms are the farthest from Kandern, they were definitely two of my favorites! 


Painting on the wall of Sonne
Seeing the dorms of BFA helped to give me a better understanding of campus life here in Kandern. It was a glance into the lives of the students and a chance to imagine what it must be like to live and study as a high schooler away from home. While it must be extremely difficult to live away from one’s family, it was encouraging to see the way that BFA strives to create such a loving home away from home for MKs from all over the world.

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