I have so many photos on my hard drive that I thought I may as well start sharing them and tell a bit about my life abroad before I came back to live in Tasmania in 2019. It’s all ancient history now anyway…
In 2009 I left Australia to go and live in Germany. What was to be a three month stay turned into a four year adventure. Why did I move to Germany? For many reasons really, but primarily it was for love. The bad news was my love affair didn’t last very long but the good news was I dove head first into the unknown. Something I’m prone to doing. Call it a bad habit? Anyway, I decided to stay put and make the best out of my time in Germany rather than return to Australia.
I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with Germans, having worked for them in Australia for a decade or more, but physically being in Germany was like entering another dimension, especially after coming from country Australia. The part of Germany I moved to is the southwest corner where three countries - France, Germany and Switzerland - meet. It’s called the ‘Dreilaendereck’, which literally means ‘three land corner’. Freiburg is the nearest big city in Germany, Basel in Switzerland and Colmar in France. I ended up working in Basel, but more on that in another post.
Freiburg is also known as the gateway to the fairytale ‘Schwarzwald’ or Black Forest. Really, it’s like a fairytale when you are in it and not far into my stay in Germany, I met a forest witch (Wald Hexle) who lived in the deepest, darkest part of the Schwarzwald, which made my stay in Germany all the more interesting. More on that also later.
About a blistering twenty minute ride on the infamous Autobahn north of Freiburg, is the city of Kenzingen (actually just a little town with city status). It is one of many towns in the Rhine valley with the Black Forest on one side and the Vosges mountains in France on the other. The river Rhine forms a natural border between the two countries.
Why do I mention Kenzingen? Because it was where I ended up living for four years. Why did I choose Kenzingen? I didn’t really, it chose me. It was where my former lover lived, and as I had found a job in the local hotel and was also teaching English at the local adult education institute, I was pretty embedded there.
Kenzingen is famous (not really, but it sounds good) for being one of the wine growing regions in the Rhine valley, along with more infamous areas like the Kaiserstuhl, which is not far away. The southwest corner of Germany is an attractive destination for people who live in other parts of Germany because of its beautiful sunny weather, which grapes like a lot. The Romans brought grape vines with them as they crossed north of the Alps looking for excitement and adventure. They also brought their solar worshipping and bathing culture, which Baden-Wuerttemberg (the German state of which Freiburg is the capital) is full of in the form of spa towns and resorts, thermal springs located near ancient Celtic and Roman sites, and more.
The evolution of its Roman solar worshipping is that today Freiburg is the solar industry capital of Germany, producing high quality solar panel technology and experimenting with off grid urban communities. The solar industry was one of the first areas I started teaching technical English in.
Although I understood a bit of German when I arrived in 2009, I had elementary speaking skills, and the dialect in the Black Forest was like moving to the middle of Yorkshire having only listened to BBC English. It took a while to figure out what people were saying, to say the least. But teaching Germans how to speak English made it easier, as it soon became a language exchange. I wasn’t only the teacher but also a student of my students’ dialect - which is one of the nice things about teaching, it’s not just a one way street.
So here, I post a few first impressions of Kenzingen, and will continue the story in the next post.