Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Seminar Year #2

Last month marked my (Bryan’s) second Summer Seminar trip.  You may remember the post from last year when we went to Austria.  This year, we spent a week in Makkum, Netherlands in a bungalow on the North Sea.  There were about 15 of us (me, 9 students, 4 colleagues and Professor Langer) on the trip.  My colleagues and I shared one of the three bungalows, while the students shared the other two bungalows.  All of the other bungalows were occupied with other families and really old people.  This prompted two security guards to visit us before we even set up the grill to ‘make sure we weren’t going to make any problems this week.’   
Makkum, Netherlands

These Summer Seminar weeks are good German practice, as pretty much all of the conversations are German.  If I was speaking one on one with somebody, there was still a pretty good chance we were speaking German.  I was encouraged that I could actually understand a good portion of the presentations this time around.  The worst part about catching most, but not all of a conversation is that you can’t add any comments.  You basically sit there and try to focus on understanding.  By the time a thought comes and you formulate the thought in German, the topic has moved on and you start the process all over again.  I am typically not the ‘quiet guy’ in the group, but I usually don’t say much in a German conversation.

The North Sea in June was not exactly Siesta Key, Florida, but the weather ended up relatively nice.  Relatively means it was 60 degrees F (15 C) and sunny, which meant we were able to get a tan.  I had no idea 18 months ago, living in hot and sticky Florida, that I would be able to sit in the sun in 60 degree weather.  My blood has thickened.

Cold North Sea in June vs....

Siesta Key?

Speaking of German speaking, it is not as far along as I would like.  Somehow, Dana’s German has gotten much better and she is really good at understanding.  She has gotten a lot of telephone speaking practice from speaking with Dylan’s Kindergarten and making various Doctors appointments for her and Dylan.  Hopefully, we will have time this fall to get enrolled in a course that could take our German skills up a notch.   

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