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Germany Erste Teil

images images I spent a year abroad in Germany 1977-8

Occupation zone borders in Germany, 1947. The ...

Occupation zone borders in Germany, 1947. The territories east of the Oder-Neisse line, under Polish and Soviet administration/annexation, are shown as white as is the likewise detached Saar protectorate. Berlin is the multinational area within the Soviet zone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 
 

Morocco and Spain (NASA, International Space Station, 12/31/11) (Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center)6950477589_4e4194a937_s

 I spent a year abroad  in Germany.

I flew from Chicago with a group of eight for Luxembourg LUX on Icelandair with a stop in Reykjavík KEF.

I left in August 1977. It was the summer Elvis died. I set out to visit every country in Europe. The only place I didn’t go was London. Many people in my group were sceptical. You can’t just get on a train and go somewhere by yourself. You’re in Europe. Others disagreed.imgres

You’re an American. You can go anywhere you want. Why are Americans so unpopular? It wasn’t always the case. I never believed in the Ugly American. The tangled history of Germany after WWII left Germany partitioned among the four victorious allied powers including the Soviet Union. In 1953 they  Illegally made their zone into the German Democratic Republik or East Germany. I asked my friends, if they thought Germany would ever be reunited. Never in my lifetime. Regensburg, in the Fulda gap was closer to Prague than Cologne. They figured if the war  ever started, it would be run over before we knew it had started. Poland received one-third of former German territory East of the Oder.

Our director met us at the Bahnhof (train station.) He took us to our dorm two at a time.That’s alll that would fit in his car. A blue Audi. It was one of the few times we got to ride in his car that year. Most of the time we took public transportation or walked. I was the only American on my floor. I’m staying at the Vitusheim.  All dormitories in Germany are student managed. I share a kitchen with the other students. We do our own cooking. There is a student cafeteria or Mensa. The meals are subsidised. It is German food. Bavarians eat lots of starch and potatoes but Sauerkraut-not so much. It is about a 15 minute walk from the dorm. I do have a sink in my room which is nice and a large wardrobe.I brought a calculator  and three cameras from home including an old Zeiss Ikon and a mini Minox spy camera. I inherited a radio and some pots from the previous occupant. I’m making good use of them.There is even a pub. There is one TV and one telephone for the whole dorm. Cell phones, video games, PC’s all in the future.

imgres

Minox mini spy camera made in Lithaunia

Minox mini spy camera
made in Lithuania

If you want to call the States you have to go to the main post office downtown, book the call then wait for your turn. I only called home three times that year. We do get mail three times a day. Snail mail, of course–no email or internet. I’m Sharing the facilities with the girls. I’m the only male on the floor. They don’t seem to mind it’s going to take some getting used to for me.

I’ll be studying three things here, chemistry, German and Linguistics. Unlike many American programs I’m enrolled at the University and can register for any class. All classes are taught in German. Although the Biochem class is using an English text, Lehninger. My Chem class doesn’t have a text, just the Professor’s lectures. He is fascinated by Bismarck, ND. I don’t know anything about it, but if I ever get there I’ll be sure to send him a card.
 
 Of course you can take American literature and read Huckleberry Finn, but what fun is that. The one thing they warn you not to take is philosophy. It’s too hard, even for the Germans. My friend didn’t listen and boy was he sorry.
 
My first day of philology/linguistics the professor wrote something on the board in Latin, half the Americans quit the class. Most of the Germans also know French and English. At that time Germany was divided into East and West. I was living in Regensburg in the West zone. There was no free access between the two zones, especially for East Germans. btw They don’t like the term East German’s. It’s the German Democratic Republik, while those in the West are the Federal Republik. Each country had it own flag and currency, too. There was also an inter-German border marked by guard dogs, machine guns, and barbed wire.
East Germans drive their vehicles through Chec...

East Germans drive their vehicles through Checkpoint Charlie as they take advantage of relaxed travel restrictions to visit West Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

There was a group of exchange students studying German from Lyon in France. They were all girls except one boy. They are nice. They are all in their twenties like me. The Americans are taking a special six-week intensive language course. Most of the German students won’t arrive until classes start in November.

Holland The first overnight trip I went on was to Amsterdam for a local festival. Not well publicised How did you hear about it, Nikolaustag? St Nikolaus is not the same as Santa Claus, who makes his traditional return from Spain by boat in November. OriginallySt. Nicholsaus is from Turkey, his feast day is December 6th.

http://amsterdam.biz/de/veranstaltung/58/ankunft-des-heiligen-nikolaus.html

The train follows the Rhine. We got off in Düsseldorf, to look around. It was nighttime it was beautiful. On the way back from Amsterdam the customs got on the train with a drug sniffing dog. We met the world’s oldest hippie in a bar in Amsterdam. I wonder if he is still alive?

Freddie Heineken greets you at the Heineken brewery tour. It’s a video tape. Back then it was something new. Before you leave he offers you one for the road.

We get many sponsored trips. In November we went to Berlin. It was awesome. I must take my parents here. On the train through East Germany my friend offers the young border guard an orange. He shows it to the other young guard and brags, I’ve seen these I know what this is. You eat it. Once you cross the border and iron curtain there is no stopping or getting off the train until you reach West Berlin.

Reichstag building seen from the west, before ...

Reichstag building seen from the west, before sunset Français : Le Palais du Reichstag coté Ouest avant le coucher de soleil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Checkpoint Charlie was on Friedrichstrasse, near Kochstrasse. It was the only crossing between West Berlin and East Berlin that could be used by Americans and other foreigners, and by members of the Allied Forces. The other six checkpoints were for residents of West Berlin or West Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Sign at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

English: Sign at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

We decide to do something nice for our German friends. We held a Halloween party. In November we cooked Thanksgiving dinner. We had to order the turkeys and pumpkin from the local army base here. Not common foods in Bavaria. The pies were the biggest hit. We had to be sure to clean up the mess. That’s a big thing here.

We took a trip to Neuschwannstein and the Alps.

 
 
 
Germany Austria Switzerland 
A map presenting Poland and the Curzon Line (W...

A map presenting Poland and the Curzon Line (World War II). Version with English labels. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

There are four countries in the world where German is spoken Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Germany of course. Germany lost a lot of territory in both world wars.

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