It’s not actually summer yet, but today’s entry is dedicated to summer pastimes.

Yesterday two of my friends went camping. I’m resisting the urge to put quotation marks around that word because camping in Germany (and, from what I hear, all of Europe) is a lot different from what we know in Michigan. It literally took ten minutes to explain the concept to me.

So in short, the idea is that you carry a tent (or not) to a campground, which in the case of Tübingen is pretty close to the city center. There they have cabins to rent, or spaces for you to set up tents. You can set it up in the middle of the day and go shopping for the rest if you want. You can order dinner if you want rather than cooking it yourself. And I don’t even know if campfires are allowed. It seems that the difference is in philosophy. In Michigan, the point of camping is to go camping. In Germany, the point is to have a cheap place to stay overnight. I don’t know why, but none of the differences from America have made as big an impression on me as this concept.

The other event from yesterday was going to the public pool (Freibad), which meant I went swimming for the first time I can remember. It was a great day for it and the pool was really nice, almost deserving the elevation to “waterpark” rather than “pool” status. There are a few waterslides, a lap pool, diving boards, and a nice grass-covered area for sunbathing and such. You can see some pictures of the facility (not taken by me) here. Speaking of diving boards, there is a German proverb you can use to egg people on if they get scared at the top:

Ein Taucher, der nicht taucht, taugt nichts.

A diver who doesn’t dive is useless. I looked for some figurative or deeper meaning to this saying but couldn’t find any.

Finally, I saw some more short films at an event put on by the “Leibniz House,” a hippie-ish house that occasionally hosts art events. The most interesting part of the evening was the discussion with the director of one of the films. They introduced him by saying “he’s Italian and doesn’t speak German, so he’ll give his speech in English.” He then proceeded to speak a few lines in the nonsense language from his film (somewhat like “speaking Whale” in Finding Nemo) before being ushered back off stage, obviously drunk. His was one of the weirder films so I guess a certain… immaturity was to be expected. Another interesting film was “Go Bash!”, a dark-comedy mockumentary in which society is alarmed at the rising frequency of “bashers,” disaffected urban youths who film themselves running head first into walls.

I found a link to another entry in the festival, “The Mafia Chicken.” The picture is a little dark and the subtitles aren’t so good, but it’s an authentic product of Baden-Württemburg!

Tomorrow Pentecost break starts, meaning no school for a week, and on Wednesday I fly out to Zadar! I guess my last thought about summer is that it has brought a certain longing for Michigan. I’ve been hearing and reading about high school graduations, college graduations, the start of tourist season on Mackinac Island, trips to Traverse City, and the like. As the end of my fourth month (and with it the two-thirds mark) comes up, I’ve begun to realize how good it will be to be back home. Every time I mention longing for home I need to add the disclaimer that I am still having an incredible experience in Germany. But, especially on quiet Sundays, I do miss Midland, and Albion, and Mackinac, and everyone there. And if I had the choice, I would change the summer semester at the University of Tübingen to a spring semester.

Congratulations to everyone who is graduating or even just finishing a tough year! I enjoy hearing about everything going on back home. And have an awesome week!

5 Responses to “Summer in Germany”


  1. Mary Miller says:

    Missed having you up at TC yesterday, Tom. Although the day started with a “bang” (thunder and lightening) it resolved into a nice sunny afternoon by the water. Say a loon (we’re choosing to call it a loon and not one of those swimmer’s itch ducks) swimming with 8 or 9 babies-some on riding on her back which she would periodically dunk under to get them to swim on their own but they would find their way back on. Makes me wonder which has the best chance for long-term survival, the riders or the swimmers–I feel a fable in the works.

    Finished up with the classic summer Aunt Mary dinner–brats and potato salad–so you were somewhat represented. Hopefully there will be a little nice weather left and you can swing through once you get home.

    Continuing to enjoy the “column”


  2. Mom says:

    I know you are in Croatia today & having a great time. Helen’s commencement is tomorrow, and we’ll miss you, but know you’ll be there in spirit! Her GVSU orientation went very well, and she came back to Midland with homework assignments to prepare for her study abroad in July – Welcome to college!


  3. Mom says:

    I just noticed that they have a Sea Organ (morske orgulje) at Zadar! I hope it’s better than the one in San Francisco. If you go to it, I want a full report!


  4. Tom says:

    Ha what was wrong with the one in SF? The one in Zadar was cool.


  5. Julie Dukes says:

    You haven’s hear that story? It will go down in Dukes family history as one of the “classics”!

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