First and foremost, I must say that Munich is exceeding expectations, and it is doing this extremely well. Earlier this semester I wrote a blog about Munich, and I mentioned how I had some negative preconceived notions about the city. But, Munich has been proving these notions incredibly wrong, and I have truly loved our time exploring this city. It has a smaller city feel, and it feels much more European and German, which I have really enjoyed.
On our first day in Munich, Team Hohenschwangau (Christian, Lance, Riley, Kate, Sarah, Jacey, Chandler, and myself) went to a museum called “The Residence”. This museum was basically a house tour of the residence where many Kings of Bavaria once lived (if you didn’t know, Munich is the capital of Bavaria). This home was extravagant, to say the very least. As we explored this museum, we continually walked into grand halls, bedrooms, dining rooms, and more. This house seemed to never end, as we walked through corridors lined with extremely detailed and ornate ceilings, paintings, busts, and displays. The wealth that was represented through all of these rooms seriously surprised me; there was an entire dining room filled with extremely expensive silverware, platters, plates, and more; there was a grand foyer with more than 100 busts of important individuals’ faces; and there were more than four grand halls that probably could fit multiple homes in them. I couldn’t believe the extreme wealth of the kings who lived here.
Clearly, in the 17th and 18th centuries, wealth was actively displayed and observed through ornate crown molding, beautiful paintings and tapestries, and details covered in gold on the walls and ceilings. During these times, powerful individuals, like the Bavarian Kings, desired to have their extreme wealth displayed; they wanted people to know the money and power they had obtained. Everything seemed to be about showing off and emphasizing status and power. But, as I talked with Christian about this, we realized that people continue to emphasize their wealth today, but the “looks” of wealth are different.
Later this day, our group went to the headquarters of BMW, and we went to the BMW museum. If you can’t already imagine, this museum was technologically savvy and sleek, and it was incredible. We hopped in and out of BMW sports cars and Rolls Royces, and we learned about the future of technology for these cars. Everything in this museum was thin, sleek, shiny, and technologically advanced; there were not ornate details or beautiful paintings on the walls, nor were there bright colors anywhere.
But, all 8 of us on our team found the designs of this building beautiful, despite the lack of detail and color. As we walked through the museum, we were attracted to the sleek nature of everything, and we automatically knew that everything in this museum was expensive and designed for wealthy individuals. As Christian and I continued to talk, we discussed how displays of wealth have changed in the past century. In the 21st century, movies, TV shows, and commercials depict wealth through sleekness of designs and levels of technology, which contrasts the gold-framed mirrors and tapestries of the Residence Museum.
Christian and I also asked ourselves one question that remains true, regardless of the time period: Why do people feel the need to publicly display their status? In the Residence, the Bavarian kings desired to make their wealth and power obvious to everyone. Similarly, people nowadays desire showing their status through the purchase of BMWs and Rolls Royces. Either way, people selfishly want their power to be known, and it’s honestly sad to me. Why do we feel the need to display our wealth?
What really hit me home was walking through the streets of Munich after dinner last night. Outside of the train station, there were over 15 people sleeping in sleeping bags on the streets. While this was no out-of-the-ordinary sight, I was extremely affected, and I felt so guilty. I had just spent the entire day walking through the most extremes of wealth, just to come back to see individuals struggling to make it through the next few days. It made me so sad to see this stark contrast of lifestyle, and I wish this wasn’t the case.
Munich has definitely opened my eyes, and I have absolutely loved my time here. They weren’t kidding when they said that CR would fly by. It truly is, but we are all having so much fun and learning a lot. Let’s keep moving.