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?

Saturday, 10th of May, 1 pm

One day, one world project, hosted by Northwest Frame of Mind 


It’s raining, and instead of being outside, puzzling in the garden, my partner and I are talking about summer holidays. We will, as most years, go to Norway, where we have a small cabin on the tiny island, Runde,  my partner grew up on.

We are discussing which route we want to take this year. Shall we sail with the ferry from Kiel to Oslo, whicht takes 19 hours and is difficult for the dog, or shall we go to Hirtshals in Denmark and take the fast-going ferry to Larvik? Alternatively we could take another ferry to Stavanger or Bergen or we could start our journey in Kristiansand/Norway which would mean driving 1.200 km to get to the island.

We haven’t come to a conclusion yet, but we agreed that we would not drive straight North to reach our place, but to take our time and explore areas we haven’t been to before. Most likely we will start the trip in the second half of July.

Just making plans made me feel like being on holidays already. and I have been in a happy mood since 1 pm on Saturday. Here are some photos my partner took on some of our former trips to Norway:


Bilder von Kamera.22.12.2007 179


When dreams come true

Daily Prompt: About Page of the Future

 Write the About page for your blog in 10 years.

Ten years ago I had resigned to the fact that life would simply continue to trickle away. Going to work, walking the dog, fixing dinner, tending the garden, getting older, looking forward to retirement.

Oh, but  life is full of surprises  and it is impossible to foresee the future. Not long after I started my first blog I came across a small announcement in the paper: “Looking for challenges? We are looking for test people willing to participate in a  psychological research program. For more information ring ….”

Always being interested in psychology I rung the number. The man on the phone told me in few words that a group of researchers from a well-known university were looking for test persons willing to meet one personal challenge  a week. I decided to join that experiment and  filled out an endless seeming questionnaire about my fears, hopes, dreams, likes and dislikes.

The experiments started easy enough. The first week I was asked to eat Leberwurst and drink camomile tea, both things I hate up to this day.  The second week I should take a midnight walk through the park and the third week I was to ask my boss for a pay raise, which I got. As the weekly challenges became more demanding, I started to change. I became more confronting and aggressive and less willing to put up with any kind of nonsense. As a result I earned even more money and when my boss retired I took over the company. The new job involved lot’s of travelling and I met interesting people and saw fantastic cities and landscapes. Finally I was leading the kind of life I had always dreamed of!

But was I enjoying it? Yes, I was. Did I miss being at home, in North Germany? No, I didn’t. Did I miss seeing my partner and my children? I did, but I came home at least once every three months. Did it hurt, when I found out my partner had a lover? Yes, but quite honestly, I didn’t think it was a serious threat to our relationship. Was I sorry I missed the baptism of my first grandchild? Yes, I was, a little bit, but I saw the videos and spoke to my son and daughter in law on the phone. I was busy, I was successful and I loved every minute of it.  The years were passing at an incredible speed and I thanked the psychologists for helping me finally lead the life I had always dreamt of.

During a conference in Monte Carlo I visited the casino and won almost 1. 000 000 Euros. Now I was rich on top of everything else. I decided to take a holiday and spend a my 65th birthday at home.

The house was dark when I arrived and nobody greeted me.  I was a bit irritated  that my partner was not there to greet me. He came home the next morning to tell  me that he didn’t want to be with me any more. He was going to marry Claudia, his new lover. I must admit, I was a bit shocked at that and surprised that my place should be taken by such  an inconspicuous woman who liked gardening.

Feeling a bit lonely in the now empty house I decided to visit my son in Köln and get to know my granddaughter. When my granddaughter saw me she started crying,  hiding away behind her mother. I was a stranger to her. Conversation with my son and his wife was awkward, there was a lot to catch up on, but somehow we couldn’t find any familiarity. I was shocked to see that he had lost most of his hair. Feeling sad and a bit lonely I left them earlier than I had meant to.

Next I visited my best friend, Lydia. She was happy enough to see me and I invited her to the best restaurant in town. I felt glad to be with a friend, but when I asked her whether we could meet again the next day she said no. She told me in clear words that though she still liked me she did not feel we were friends any more. I had not been there when she was sick and needed me. She had found new friends, who really cared about her.

That night I could hardly sleep and after getting up early I went to work and put in my resignation. Now somebody else is  traveling and running our international projects.

I am rich. I have seen the world. I know people all around the globus and enjoy being in touch with them. I still love travelling. There are many things I could write about.

However, life needs to be balanced, and as I need challenges and inspiration, I also need a place where I can be safe and secure, where I can love and be loved. Therefore this blog is about  family and friends, gardening and cooking, reading books and taking trips and building up a happy life. I am just beginning to learn how to be a friend and a grandmother and hopefully, sooner or later, a partner in a relationship.