Living in the Karthause is kind of like living at Hogwarts. There are many corridors, winding stairs, common rooms, courtyards, classrooms, a Baroque library (although, to be fair, we're not allowed to use that one), a Forbidden Forrest (really. It's forbidden...well, at least at night), even secret passageways. We also have caves nearby, which I have yet to explore. And, according to Mrs. Newton, there are artifacts and treasures hidden inside, or underneath, the Karthause that have yet to be unearthed. Basically, this is a dream come true for me, who grew up wishing I could go far away and study in a castle. Obviously the comparison is childish, but there it is.
That being said, the best part of being here is not the Karthause itself- it's the community. There are roughly one hundred and fifty of us from the states, and about a dozen students from Eastern Europe. Then there are the professors and their families, Father Brad, Father Ron, and four Franciscan sisters.
There is an atmosphere here that is almost family-like. The student body is so small that it is easy to meet people; I have met almost all of the other students, and even made friends that I didn't know on main campus. The professors are very approachable, too, and I see them around campus a lot outside of class.
Every weekday at noon, everyone attends Mass at Maria Thron. The professors and their families are there, and there is something very homey about having lots of children around. After church, all the little boys scramble out into the courtyard for the snowball fight that inevitably follows every Mass.
For me, living and studying here is a bit like a retreat. Here I am in this ancient monastery attending Mass every day and studying nothing but theology, philosophy, and German. Barring German, all my class assignments are reading assignments. I have already begun reading an encyclical for the first time: Pope Benedict's Verbum Domini. I am also reading Karol Wojtyla's Love & Responsibility, and will soon read C.S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man.
I honestly love all of it- reading a theological work feels like a devotional or meditation, and the time I spend reading philosophy is like leisure time. As for German -there are few things I enjoy more than speaking German- it's a pity I'm not fluent. Not yet!