Stories Told

Gleich aus Deutschland zurück, 30 Jahre her

I spent my 16th summer in Germany. I was in an intensive language-immersion program through Indiana University that gave me a stunning command of the German language. I came away so fluent that even though I’ve had little call to speak German in 25 years and have forgotten a lot of vocabulary, when I encounter a native German speaker I can still make myself understood.

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Me drinking beer in Krefeld

This was also an exchange program. I lived with a kind and patient family in Krefeld, a town in western Germany near the border with the Netherlands.

It wasn’t all language instruction; we did touristy things too. We visited cities all over western Germany and spent a week in Berlin. We toured castles, churches, and breweries, and took a boat trip down the Rhine River.

The trip was a defining time in my life. It gave me perspectives on the world that I would never have gotten otherwise. I had a lot of freedom there and learned both how to handle it and that I was inherently trustworthy with it.

This summer is the 30th anniversary of my trip. This is about the time I returned home, and so I’ve been reflecting on my time in Germany lately. I’ve written about the trip many times before, and all week I’ll be sharing the best of those posts again. I’ll also tell some stories I haven’t told before.

To whet your appetite, here’s a gallery of some of the best scenes from my trip.

I wasn’t much of a photographer in 1984, but I’m sure glad I have these photos now.

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8 thoughts on “Gleich aus Deutschland zurück, 30 Jahre her

  1. Lone Primate says:

    Say, Jim, did you stay in touch with the family you stayed with? Was it their kid who came to the States? Did that kid stay with your family, and did you ever find out what they thought of life over here? :)

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    • I stayed in touch for five or six years. My host parents visited Indiana once, in 1989, and I got to see them while they were here for just an afternoon. But that was it. Things petered out quickly after their visit here. I’m not entirely sure why. I think at least in part I didn’t carry that ball very well.

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  2. Have you ever gone back to Germany? One thing that took some getting used to was when in train stations announcements often start out with Achtung!. Having grown up close to the end of WWII and having seen a lot of WWII movies I was conditioned to find that somewhat ominous.

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    • I know what you mean. I’m a little younger but still remember the war movies and how harsh any “Achtung!” was. They were just as harsh in Germany in the 80s but it was in the context of a language that was by no means soft.

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