Every summer, Chung Chi College organises a series of fabulous events, nurturing students’ minds and souls. The College has long been emphasising liberal arts education and whole-person development, giving students ample opportunities to learn a lot during their summer holidays. Language programmes, overseas study tours, personal growth training, cultural experiences, community service, and spiritual cultivation are just a few of the activities that help students broaden their intellectual horizons and expand their interests. These, in turn, encourage self-improvement. The College launched a summer tour, namely “Music and History in Vienna and Berlin”, from 24 June to 9 July 2023. Participants were all Chung Chi students, some of whom major in music, some in other disciplines and are music enthusiasts. What valuable and memorable experience have they gained? What did they learn during this journey?
The students from both Hong Kong and Vienna could finally unite after a lengthy pandemic period. However, they appeared to be rather distant and estranged from one another when they first met, which might be due to prolonged social isolation. It wasn’t until dinner time that Chung Chi students started to break the ice as they had no choice but to ask the local students about the menu descriptions. When the dishes were served, the students began to introduce themselves in English, compare the culture of Vienna with Hong Kong’s, and debate on topics ranging from dining etiquette to social issues. Accompanied by the cuisine, the students enjoyed their supper while having vibrant chats. They progressively removed their barriers after dinner and forged steadfast friendships.
The Golden Hall of the Musikverein is a dream destination for music lovers worldwide. Its golden acoustics captivate the students, creating a beautiful fusion of acoustics and architecture.
Vienna has long been hailed as the “City of Music”, which is renowned for a wide range of musical acts, from classical to contemporary. One of the most prominent figures of the Viennese Classical School is certainly Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791). Born and nurtured in Vienna, Mozart was among the most brilliant composers in the history of Vienna's music. In this country, not only are the musical performances versatile, but so are the venues. Medieval buildings, from cathedrals to palaces, are common performance venues for formal music concerts. Furthermore, you can always hear violin music dancing in your ears even in the streets, subway stations, and other public locations, turning the entire city into a gigantic concert hall.
Acclaimed as one of the top concert halls in the world and one of Vienna’s most famous music venues, the Golden Hall of the Musikverein is recognised internationally with superb acoustics and gorgeous ornate decor. Chung Chi students had an opportunity to watch the performance of a symphony orchestra there. Enjoying the live performance of classic repertoires, particularly An der schönen blauen Donau (The Blue Danube) and Rondo Alla Turca (Turkish March), was surely an unforgettable experience for them.
Moreover, the students watched the ballet Don Quixote at the Vienna State Opera. The beautiful dance between Don Quixote and his imaginary sweetheart, Dulcinea del Toboso, is one of the most renowned scenes. Through this performance, Chung Chi students had a better understanding and appreciation of Western literature, music, and dance. This ballet encapsulates the immense efforts of composers, dancers, and the orchestra, providing the audience with an opportunity to experience the infinite appeal and power of dance art.
The students embarked on an artful journey at Albertina, Vienna.
In Vienna, a city enriched with artistic inspirations for long, the students first visited the Sisi Museum at Hofburg, which features the life of Austrian Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) and displays her possessions as well as the court life of the period. They could have a glimpse of the artistic style of 19th-century court life, as well as a deeper understanding of Empress Sisi’s cultural significance in society at the time while being exposed to the aesthetic ambience of the royal court.
The next stop was the Albertina Museum. This art palace preserves a significant collection of drawings, prints, and photographic works, allowing the students to see the artistic styles and creative processes of different eras. Learning about Western art history, the students appreciated and had an in-depth grasp of the diversity and richness of art.
The students then arrived at Museum Island in Berlin, which is home to numerous world-renowned museums, including the Pergamon Museum, the Altes Museum, and the Neues Museum. Some students were stunned by the architectural style of the Neues Museum, which integrates neoclassical and contemporary elements with attractive attractive facades. There are a wealth of caskets which amazed them. The mask of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, an icon of ancient Egyptian civilization, is one of the Neues Museum’s most famous treasures. In addition, the museum has a one-of-a-kind hall that displays valuable Incan relics and artworks, covering ceramics, metalwork, wood carvings, textiles, and other examples of Incan art and culture. This museum visit has not only broadened students’ horizons and inspired their creativity, but also enhanced their comprehension of art across countries and historical periods, fueling their insatiable need to artistic endeavours. This museum trip has undoubtedly rendered them a significant experience and a source of inspiration for future studies and creative activities.
The students delved into a captivating journey through learning about medical history at the Josephinum, Vienna.
The tour covered a one-day visit to Salzburg. Even though it was just a flash visit, the students were able to make the most of their time to conduct sightseeing at some famous landmarks of Salzburg. They also got to know more about Mozart’s family life and musical career through appreciating his scores, instruments, letters, and photos showcased in the exhibition at his birthplace, and gained a deeper understanding of Mozart’s musical accomplishments and life narratives, which enhanced their knowledge of this outstanding composer. Meanwhile, they visited Salzburg’s citadel, where they could enjoy the panoramic view of the entire city, including its architecture, rivers, and mountains. This flash visit not only enabled them to appreciate the city’s stunning environment, but also get exposed to Salzburg’s history and culture.
Chung Chi students made use of their commuting time on the train to write postcards to themselves, their families, and friends. They meticulously recounted the beauty of Salzburg, as well as everything they saw and heard, so that their recipients could also share their thoughts and feelings about their journey. They also delivered blessings to the students at the University of Vienna through handwritten words, wishing them success and happiness in their studies and lives. These warm words were packed with lovely wishes and the power of blessings, from which their recipients could feel the warmth of camaraderie. Some Chung Chi-ers even came across a Hungarian on the train. They utilised translation technologies to share what they saw, heard, and felt on this tour, as well as their tales and experiences.
The students visited numerous historical landmarks associated with Jewish history in Berlin. They began by entering the Holocaust Memorial, which is a maze-like complex designed in memory of the Jews slaughtered by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. This monument embodies the misery and peril suffered by Jews during the Holocaust, reminding us not to forget the Jewish tragedy of the Second World War, and paying homage to and mourning the Jews who perished in the Holocaust. The students noticed a gloomy and mournful mood within this monument, discussed their interpretations of the memorial, guessed at the designer’s objectives, and showed respect and care for Jewish history.
Next, the students visited the Jewish Museum, which is well-known for its creative architectural design featuring gloomy and extended hallways which depict the Holocaust. They walked over and explored the stone masks, getting insight into the tremendous difficulties Jews endured throughout history and pondering over how art reflects society and history.
The students also visited the Berlin Wall, which signifies Germany’s split in the old days and preserves the Cold War history. Though East and West have been united, numerous graffiti and paintings on the wall express various emotions such as grief, frustrations, optimism, and joy, reflecting the Wall's multifaceted impact on people. This living historical relic enables visitors to see the past through the eyes of the present. The continuing saga of the Wall tells us that alienation may exist, but it should be met with empathy and tolerance. Visiting the Berlin Wall not only enabled the students to learn about history, but also advance human intelligence.
The Berlin Wall tour engaged the students, unraveling the essence of German heritage.
This tour not only allowed the students to savour delicious Viennese and Berlinese delicacies, but also enabled them to gain a deeper understanding of the contrasts and similarities among various cultures via interactions, as well as learn how to communicate successfully across cultural boundaries. Furthermore, before Chung Chi students departed for Berlin, the Vienna students went to the train station to say goodbye to the Chung Chi-ers, and played Auld Lang Syne on the harmonica to wish them a safe journey. “Friendship makes us neighbours.” Even though they are physically apart, as long as they stay connected, the gap among them will disappear. This tour has not only broadened the students' horizons but also provided them with the opportunity to taste the wonders of cultural interchange, laying a strong foundation for their engagement in international exchanges in the future.
Student Reporter Fung Sai Wa Simon