Welcome to Essen!
It was now week Four of study abroad, and we have left Berlin (which we had stayed in for approximately 3 weeks) and moved on to our next destination- Essen! It should be made clear that while we were staying in Essen, we were not actually doing much work there. Our first two days centered around Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord, a prime example of Fourth Nature, or the Nature after Man.
This form of nature is simply described as the nature that occurs after humans have heavily changed the environment, some arguing that it is further specified into a state which cannot be returned to its original form. While we briefly touched on the topic while in Berlin, we would be focusing on it more intently here, in Essen. Our first full day in Northern Germany was spent exploring the park- one that many of us had already heard of and read about in previous classes and lectures. It is a famous and stately example of what happens after industrial development. It should be noted that the area is highly contaminated- but safe for human interaction, as the contamination has been removed or contained. The park is safe to be in, so long as you aren’t planning on eating the dirt or digging deep.
Our second day was also spent in the park, but this time we were moving away from the tall, rusted structures. Instead, we were going to measure trees to compare the growth of trees in contaminated areas to those in areas that are uncontaminated. To do this, we would find someone whose height we knew (for my group, it was me, standing at a solid 1.5 meters), have them stand next to the tree, and use their height to approximate how tall the tree is. We would then calculate the diameter of the tree, and record its coordinates. I confess that my partner
and I strayed from the given instructions in that we did not follow a strict center-north-south-east-west pattern when measuring our trees. Our numbers tended to come from a more varied approach. Our professor assured us later that this would not matter so much as long as we had the coordinates down.
As a whole, I would say that Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord is a breath-taking experience. Literally, as well as figuratively. The tall structure looms above you by several meters, and you may climb to the top by following an exhausting number of stairs (which we did). The view is well worth it once you’ve caught your breath, which you may lose again at the sight below. The sight of plants interwoven with roofs and industrial infrastructure is an awing sight. Of course, there are other places around the park to visit, if climbing stairs isn’t your thing, or if you suffer from a fear of heights. The place is large enough that we actually found a location our professor Frank said he’d never been to. If you’re ever in Germany, and up north, I would recommend going to have a look. It’s free to tour by yourself, and absolutely stunning. Not to mention a favorite spot for photo shoots and recording films/videos/movies, with the place lending itself beautifully to steampunk, post-apocalyptic, etc.