Monday, November 8, 2010

Germany, 30 years ago

I love this picture--it's probably one of my favorite photos from my family's sabbatical in Germany. On my recent trip to Cleveland, my brother reminded us that this fall is the 30th anniversary of that trip.

I find it hard to believe!

But here it is in print: (Our hometown paper did a story about us, which my friend Daniel sent to me in Germany.)

My siblings and reminisced a bit during the weekend, and when I got home, I got out my old scrapbook and looked at the pictures. There were a few images that brought back great memories, and some that Bill didn't have in his retrospective.

That first photo, above, was of me and my sister with two of my housemates--Ewa and Denise--from the Goethe Institute in Murnau. In this photo, we're at the top of the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. By the way, I still correspond with Ewa, and we are Facebook friends.

I was 18 when we went on the sabbatical, so I spent my first trimester of college in Germany. Luckily, my college had an exchange-type program with the Goethe Institute, a language institute. I took German there for 8 weeks.
Here's my language class (I'm not in the picture because I took it!). In that 8 weeks, I got about the equivalent of 1 year of college German, and loved learning the language so much that I got a German minor in college!

This is where I lived for that 8 weeks, in a little boarding house in Murnau, at the foothills of the Alps. The landlady spoke no English, but I could see the mountains from my window.

My housemates and I got along very well. The only language we ALL spoke was . . . German! So we had to learn quickly.

My sister came down to visit a few times. Here's a page from my scrapbook with pictures from our trip to Salzburg. She came down the weekend of her birthday, and we took a Goethe Institute tour bus to Mozart's town. We visited the Mozart-Museum and went up to the Schloss on the hill.

When I finished at Goethe Institute, I went back and lived with my family in Ottobrun, a suburb of Munich. I was a bit bored since I wasn't in school, but we did some fun things.

My mom and I went to East Germany, a country that no longer exists. My kids love to hear me tell stories about taking the train and seeing barbed-wire fences and guards with guard dogs at the border. "Did the guards really have guns? Did they really wake you up to ask for your passports?" "Yes!"

The whole family also went on a trip to Italy, and the days in Florence were a dream come true for me. I'd just completed AP European history and had learned all about renaissance art. There it all was--the Uffizi, the David, the Baptistry doors, the Fra Angelico!
Ellen and Bill got tired of being dragged from museum to museum.

In general, though, it was a pivotal time for our family. Living abroad and having to rely so much on each other (and co-exist in a tiny apartment) ended up bringing us closer together. Another reason to celebrate the anniversary!


Ken said...

Ellen told me about the "mud churches" when we were in Florence. We went to them all again, and she liked them the second and third times.

Didn't realize you went to the DDR. Where did you visit? It was an adventure "damals".

wclaspy said...

Awesome! Thanks for posting, Jane. Funny how we each remember different things. I'd forgotten that Ellen went south to visit you. I got a chance to travel to the DDR too, three years later in the summer of 1983, by car. Scary stuff, or at least it was for a 17 year old. Ellen and I sure got tired of museums and churches, something I remind myself of when I travel with my teenagers!