I’d never heard of ‘Verbindungen’ until I first visited Tübingen in February earlier this year. Considering there is no British equivalent, I was seriously intrigued and somewhat bewildered that it existed in Germany. So what are Verbindungen?
A Verbindung is the collective term for a, predominantly male, student society in German-speaking countries, dating back to the 19th century, which is often compared to fraternities in America. The society is made up of university students and those who have graduated from university called Alte Herren (Elder Gentlemen), who provide the finances needed to maintain the society. Those who are active students of a Verbindung can be split into two main types of members; Fuchs (Fox in English) and the Burschen (Full members in English).
Fuchs → Burschen→ Alte Herren
As one can probably guess, the Fuchs is a new member to the Verbindung and Burschen are the older, more experienced members. The society usually owns huge mansion with a couple of bedrooms, bar, large entertainment hall where parties are usually held, as well as turrets sprouting from the roof being another common feature. A huge positive of living in a Verbindung is that it is notoriously cheap and most likely to be the most spacious student accommodation one can find. However, a mere 1% of the student population in Germany are active members. Why you ask? It is no secret that living in a Verbindung comes with a certain stigma.
Each Verbindung has their own colours which can be seen on their flags, their bands and hats. Most Verbindungen also practice fencing and in the case that they do, the Fuchs must train for a match in which he will show off his fencing skills and be rewarded his full membership. It used to be so that during fencing matches, the aim was to get a scar across your cheek as a sign of honour. Having spoken to several members, it seems that now-a-days getting a scar is a sign of poor fencing skills and therefore not a scar to be proud of. In addition, they were quick to add that when they have a match WITH other Verbindung, NOT AGAINST. It should be said that these fencing matches have medical staff on hand and are highly regulated.
Although there are many different types of Verbindungen, there are three main types; Burschenschaften, Corps and Landsmannschaften. All three types love their beer, parties and events. In fact, I’ve been told that as a student, you need to go on one of these parties at least once in your student career as it is apparently such an experience. In my month living in Tübingen, I have come to get to know some people who are living in Verbindungen and I must admit, they are all perfectly lovely and super friendly. However, I will say one thing – I haven’t seen one member with bad hair or not wearing a shirt. Despite everything I have said about Verbindungen, I will say that I can’t help but feel uneasy whenever I step foot into a Verbindung.
***Want to know more about Verbindungen?***
Watch a (German) YouTube Documentary.
Even for those who don’t understand German, have a quick whiz through the documentary to get a visual idea about Verbindungen.
On another note:
In Scotland, whenever I was on a night out and hunger
struck, I would wander to the nearest takeaway shop and order a glorious cheese and chips. I was out in Tübingen and once again, hunger struck. I found a takeaway, ordered a cheese and chips, waited a hefty 15 minutes or so to be given the following…Unsalted, soggy chips, clump of unmelted cheese and not even the right type of cheese.
Solid effort Tübingen.
GERMAN WORD OF DAY
– meaning: bar, pub or tavern
– pronounced: ‘Kn-eye-peh’
MEDICAL FACT OF THE DAY:
The human body’s weakest sense is the sense of taste.