Mark Twain about student’s life in Heidelberg (1878)

In the year 1878 Mark Twain visited the beautiful town Heidelberg. His experiences he wrote down in his book “A Tramp Abroad”. One chapter of his book, namely the fourth, he dedicated to the student’s life.

In his report Twain describes Heidelberg as a town which is fill with both German and foreign students. Twain seems to be fascinated by and keen on the student’s life of Heidelberg. He writes about how nice and free the life of a German student can be. In the same time, however, he describes the efficiency and the diligence of the Heidelberg’s students. In the same chapter he also mentions the good manners which were appertain to the students not only towards the lecturers. And lastly Twain describes the magnificent preparation of a German grammar school pupil for the further life beyond the school’s life. He even goes so far to claim that a grammar school pupil would not need to attend a University since the grammar school would have given him all the mental information he would need in his further life.

The following quotations demonstrate all the things by which Twain was so fascinated and what makes the Heidelberg’s student’s life so admirable.

„The summer semester was in full tide; consequently the most frequent figure in and about Heidelberg was the student. […]It is said that the vast majority of the Heidelberg students are hard workers, […].

[…]About a minute before the clock struck, a hundred and fifty students swarmed in, rushed to their seats, immediately spread open their notebooks and dipped their pens in ink. When the clock began to strike, a burly professor entered, was received with a round of applause, moved swiftly down the center aisle, said “Gentlemen,” and began to talk as he climbed his pulpit steps; and by the time he had arrived in his box and faced his audience, his lecture was well under way and all the pens were going. He had no notes, he talked with prodigious rapidity and energy for an hour — then the students began to remind him in certain well-understood ways that his time was up; he seized his hat, still talking, proceeded swiftly down his pulpit steps, got out the last word of his discourse as he struck the floor;[…]”

Mark Twain, 1878

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