I spent my junior year of high school abroad in Germany as an exchange student with Rotary International. I have a separate set of pages set aside about that experience, and about youth exchange in general. Below are a few pictures of some of my friends the town of Gifhorn, which is in Niedersachsen, between Wolfsburg, Braunschweig, and Hannover. Featured in the photos are Adrian, Jessica, Rene, and Kathrin.
Here is a photo I received in the mail after my year abroad—I believe it is from Kathrin’s birthday (17th? 18th?).
At the end of the first term in Gifhorn, after everyone received their grades, a 1/2 a dozen or so of us went out to lunch at an Italian restaurant in town—here is one of the photos, of Jessica and Adrian (same last name, not related) from that day. This was the point, along with the end-of-the-semester party hosted by someone else, when I started to really feel accepted by my classmates.
One evening I went out with several friends to the Kater—a club/bar in town (and came home smelling like pot smoke)—and beforehand, I met up with them at Das Cafe, a neat little cafe along the river, right behind a department store in downtown Gifhorn, off the Fußgängerzone (pedestrian zone). It was the first place that Jessican, Kathrin and others took me when I was new to town. This is an overly bright photograph of Jessica from that night.
Here is another photo Jessica sent me, basically just of her out on the heath. Nothern Germany is flat. Very flat. But it is also home to many pretty tree-ringed clearings (I would call them valleys, except that they are not surrounded by hills or mountains!) that go on and on, and the broad, wide open sky was disturbing to me at first, since I had grown up in a location where one could always see mountains on the horizon.
In the winter of 95/96 I went back up to Gifhorn for the winter holidays, and one evening my host sister—Claudia—took me to the reunion that her graduating class (that of my friends) was having in town. It was a nice opportunity to see people, such as Adrian and Rene, who are featured along with me in this photo.
Jessica was kind enough to take the previous photo. The challenge here was, who was going to get the next shot off first? I won. It was the last time that I saw any of these people, and it was interesting at the time to see how much we had all aged in the course of almost four years. A few years ago I received an email from Adrian, but that was the last contact I had with people from Gifhorn.