The biggest change

Irene Waters asked in her challenge “Times past” ( what has been the biggest change during our lifetime.

I was born in 1959 and when I grew up hardly anyone in my environment spoke English. My mother had attended a “Volksschule” where English wasn’t taught and my father went to “Realschule” where English was taught only on a very simple level.

I went to a gymnasium and thus had English lessons for 8 years. When after my Abitur in 1979 I decided to spend a year in the US it was still something unusual to do and a big adventure. If you wanted to improve your English or French you went to the UK or France as an au-pair, but not many did it, as living in a foreign country still had the flair of exclusiveness about it. Not few of my former schoolmates stayed in my hometown Lüneburg, and most, like me, have not moved far away, but live in nearby Hamburg or other towns close by.

Being able to speak English and having lived in another country has widened my horizon. Travelling has become normal for my generation, and almost everybody is having dinner in Persian, Indian, Vietnamese, Greek, Japanese, Spanish, Portugese, Italian, Turkish or Syrian restaurants.

Nowadays children start learning English at elementary school and all types of  schools teach it. Most children at gymnasium spend one or two semesters abroad, and it is not unusual that they go as far as Australia or New Zealand. Studying abroad has become common and there are many programs like “work and travel” that make it affordable for young people to see the world. At the same time we have foreign students in our schools and universities and even those, who cannot spend time abroad, will have contact with kids from other nations.

While at school in Hamburg my younger son had friends from Indonesia, Australia and Turkey and Africa. My older son, now living in Berlin, has friends from all over the world, he has spent a year in South Africa and he has traveled to almost every continent. At the age of 29 he has seen much more of the world than I have, even though I have never been afraid to leave my familiar surroundings.

I work with a very young team. Almost all of them have spent a year in another country. Some of them are children of immigrants and bilingual. They ask for holidays because they want to attend a wedding in Britain or visit a friend in Japan. All of them are fluent in English and at least one other language. They are able and willing to communicate with people from all over the world. Many travel with “Airbnb” or are backpacking. They want to get to know other countries and make contact with people living there rather than staying in a secluded beach resort.

The generation now in their twenties is not very political. They are concentrated on their careers and on building their own lives and having fun. At the same time they are open and have contacts around the world. Social media and communication technology makes staying in touch easier. My sons’ generation has learned to respect and tolerate different cultures; they grew up with the awareness that there are different ways of living and looking at the world. I have hope that this young generation will help overcome prejudices and nationalism. We need people with intercultural competences and a self-conception of being cosmopolites. They have the potential to be the bridge and the translators between countries and cultures and contribute to peace and understanding. Every child learning at least one foreign language and the possibilities of using the language by more possibilities to travel and communicate is one of the most important changes I can think of. It could contribute to keep peace, because, after all, who wants a war (or even a trade war) causing damage to friends?

Share your world

For weeks I have meant to join this challenge, but being busy with my job, the restoration of our house, being a grandmother for the first time and other family obligations, time to actually write something let alone make decent photos has been rare.

Here are the questions for this week:

If you had to move to a country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why? 
What color would you like your bedroom to be?
What makes you Happy? Make a list of things in your life that bring you joy.
What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  

My partner is Norwegian. So it is likely that we would move to Norway if we didn’t like living in Germany anymore. I like Norway’s nature and the possibility of taking long walks in the mountains or going on fishing trips. I like the sea, also when it is rough. Norwegian people are friendly and easy going, the lifestyle is relaxed and Norwegian homes are usually very, very cozy. But still, since I have spent my holidays there for the past 17 years I would prefer  another country, something new to discover,  Canada or Australia and perhaps New Zealand. I also like the East coast of the United States and have heard that it is beautiful on the West Coast.  Canada I imagine to be a mixture of US and European culture, Australia appears to be relaxed, lively and a big melting pot. New Zealand impresses me with it’s variety in nature, and the US I have always found fascinating.

Sea – houses in Norway:


No matter where I live, I like my bedroom to be cozy. I prefer light colors, a light green for example with some beige and light wooden furniture and of course, a wooden floor.  Snuggling in bed after a busy day, a good thriller waiting to be read on the nightstand, the dog already deep asleep and snoring in its corner gives me a feeling of peace  and happiness.

The morning walk with the dog, very early in the morning, most windows still dark, coming home, having a steaming hot coffee are two more good moments of the day. The smell of a cinnamon and vanilla when an apple crumble is baking,  cuddling my little granddaughter, walking through all the colorful leaves in the streets, having a long chat with my friend are some more things that make my life rich and happy. Painting, gardening, working on something that interests me are other moments of happiness and contentment. Walking on the beach, hiking in the mountains, swimming in a lake, physical activities feel good as does watching a good film or having a heated, but stimulating  discussion. Life is full of good moments, and as the years go by, the appreciation of all the good things life is offering grows.

P1060111.JPG It might sound stupid, but I came across a program on TV, where people were buying rather unattractive houses and turning them into really beautiful homes. I usually don’t watch that kind of stuff, but for once I got really caught up in it and it gave me lots of new motivation to carry on with the restoring of our house. It’s been dragging on for so long that now and then I feel really tired and afraid that it will never be finished.





Blogging from A – Z

Soon after moving to the countryside with my then new partner and my kids I had some rather difficult years.  Life didn’t turn out as I had expected and for a while I felt trapped in a life I hadn’t wanted and my thinking and feeling were focused on everything that had gone wrong or was not as I wanted it. I was hurting myself with this attitude.

It took me a while to understand that self-pity was not helping me to feel better or to adjust to circumstances I couldn’t change. But slowly I began to focus my mind on things that were good. My boys were developing fine, even though they didn’t like living in the countryside. There was no need to feel guilty all the time about dragging them out here! I had a partner I could rely on and who had been able to take my mood swings. I was living in a nice house and had a lovely garden. Within a few minutes I could take a walk through the woods and enjoy nature. I had not many, but some very good friends. I had a family, I was not alone, and I had a job I really loved.

Things haven’t really changed since I got into that crisis, but I have learned to develop a positive attitude towards life by focusing on the positive aspects of every situation and trying to find ways to make the best out of not so good ones.  Take commuting for example. It is not nice to drive two hours each way to get to work. Not, because it is that far to Hamburg, but because of traffic jams. I have learned to use the time during a standstill to fix my nails, practice deep breathing, and listen to good music. In the evening I ring friends and family (I got hands-free in the car), and thus keep in touch with everyone.

It is up to each and every one to decide whether they want to focus on the negative or the positive. Developing an attitude of positivity doesn’t mean to suppress negative feelings or to deny problems and bad things. It means accepting the negative but instead of dwelling on it deliberately focusing the mind on the positive aspects. If there are no positive aspects to be found a positive attitude can be having faith or trust in life that something positive will arise from the negative:  insights, inner growth or something positive that we cannot foresee right now.

 I have chosen positivity and since I have started practicing it I have become happier every day and grateful for all the gifts life has given me. I know that there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel and that even when everything looks bleak, like the frozen ground in winter, there is something good and positive growing, showing itself when the time is right.