Sunday, May 30, 2010

“Was sollen wir machen?” - Teil 2

With many families traveling this Memorial Day, we continue our post on things to do in and around Krefeld focusing on longer trips that can take a half or full day. Of course, there is an abundance of opportunities matching diverse interests and we can only mention a few. So, make sure to keep your eyes open and communicate with your friends and host family to learn more about ongoing events in the area. Also, make sure to keep expectations reasonable and understand that your host family might have to make special arrangements…

- Eine Fahrradtour / A bike trip:
Riding a bike is a popular activity in Krefeld – for business and pleasure. If you like to explore the beautiful countryside of the lower Rhine valley (it’s very flat!) and add a little exercise, try a bike tour through endless fields, vibrant forests, along the river Rhine, and to the Hülserberg. Krefeld was recently named one of the most bike-friendly towns in Germay! Click here for more info.

- Nach Holland / to the Netherlands
While you are there, why not check out the Dutch culture as well. Krefeld is close to the Dutch border and it takes about 30 minutes by car to go to Venlo. A popular place to go shopping on the weekend, you will notice that it only takes a short distance to visit another country and hear another language. Click here for more info.

- Schlösser & Landhäuser / Castles & Mansions
Interested in history? Well, you have plenty to explore when in Krefeld! Be it the Romans, the Middle Ages, or something more recent, each period left their historic mark and buildings which are often carefully restored. Although we will visit Burg Linn with the group, there is so much more to see. Also, the Neanderthal (yeah, the one where the early humans come from) is not too far away. Click here for more info.

- Kulturstadt 2010 Essen / culture capital 2010 Essen
Each year, one European city is named the culture capital and this year it is Essen (about 45 minutes away). Throughout the year, but especially during the summer, special events take place to show the cultural heritage of the area. Essen is known for its industrious past, such as mining and steel production (maybe similar to Pittburgh), and one can visit these facilities. I even heard that they will close the Autobahn on certain weekend days, so that people can stroll along and enjoy walking on one of Germany’s famous highways. Click here for more info.

Please remember, there is a good chance that host families will ask you what you would like to do. Don’t be shy and tell them about your wishes - even if you think it might not be polite! Without trying to stereotype anyone, Germans tend to be a bit more direct. They will let you know if a trip is possible or not…

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fußball WM 2010 in Süd Afrika: Deutschland vor, noch ein Tor…

Among the many extraordinary experiences you will encounter this summer, you will have the unique opportunity to celebrate the soccer World Cup which is held from June 11 to July 11 in South Africa. Even if you are not a soccer fan, there is no escape and you will be carried away by the compassion and joy of this event … especially when Germany wins it all this year!

Similar to large sporting events in the US, it is quite common to socialize when watching matches with friends and families. In addition, many public locations will show important games on large screens and it is not uncommon to be in the company of hundreds of people. If you have the chance, go there with your friends and jump right in. It’s an experience you won’t forget… 

Although you will receive a crash course in German soccer culture on location, it will help a great deal if you are familiar with the game, the teams, and basic customs. Knowing the name of each player on the German team is a must!

ZDF (Zweite Deutsche Fernsehen), one of the major German TV stations, created a special website covering South Africa and the World Cup just for kids. Check it out when you have the time. It contains information about the German team but also explores the culture and customs of the host nation.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Geschenke schenken?

We have been received several questions and emails about potential gifts for host families (and there were also discussions on Facebook). Well, it’s a good questions and not an easy one answer! On one hand, we would like to be thankful to the family for hosting us and show how much we appreciate them. On the other hand, there is only so much one can take along and some ideas might just not be practical (and they also receive a small stipend…).

Thankfully, while Germans like to receive gifts (who doesn’t?), the cultural significance of giving gifts is not as far-reaching as in other countries or continents, for example, in Asia. Based on our experience, we found that a small but personal gift is often more appreciated than a large, expensive one (it’s the thought that counts!). We understand it can be tiresome to think about and find such a gift but maybe try to bring something that will remind the family of you when the program is over.

Typical “American” products, such as certain candy or a t-shirt from your high school, are also great ideas and easy to transport. With Memorial Day this weekend, there might be a good opportunity to pick up small trinkets with an American theme that you can hand out to anyone you would like, for example, I got a set of pencils that have the American flag at Target. Again, it’s more the thought that counts…

Of course, you can simply ask your host family if they would like to have a certain gift, especially if they have hosted before. This is not an issue with Germans and you won’t have to fear any cultural consequences. You will see that Germans are pretty direct… ;-)

Check out a great video on different candies in Germany and the US. (FYI – While the content of the video is very informative and useful, please note that the intended target audience might not be high school students. So, check with your parents…)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Was sollen wir machen?"

When in Krefeld, you probably will hear and ask the question “Was sollen wir machen?” very frequently. Although we will have organized activities (i.e. sports, theater, choir, etc.) and trips (i.e. Aachen, Berlin, Köln), there will be plenty of time for you to explore Germany and German culture outside of these. So, what to do during your spare time? Being unfamiliar with the environment and not exactly knowing where things are can be a challenge to get the most of this program. (Please don’t say “Das ist mir egal” – it can be interpreted negatively!)

First of all, you and your friends are highly encouraged to explore Krefeld. Don’t forget that you have some time after classes and activities before dinner. As long as you and your host family have not made different plans, you have some time to spare and fully immerse yourself in the culture. Popular activities in the past have been shopping, eating ice cream, biking, hiking, visiting museums, or just getting together with other students and Germans. In addition, this year we will have the soccer World Cup and there will be several events going on as well. Get ready for ‘public viewing’!!!!

Feel free to speak to us about any suggestions since we have been in Krefeld before and know popular places.

A couple tips;
  • Do as the locals do – to fully understand another culture, there is nothing better to participate in the daily lives
  • Help with shores –you will be surprised how much you will learn be going grocery shopping, doing the laundry, etc. And your hosts will appreciate it...
  • Communicate your plans with your host family – they might have made special plans just for you (and made arrangement)! If you run late, let them know. Last year, the majority of students received a local cell phone – make sure you know how it works and who to call.

Click here for a calendar for events in Krefeld (there is more!).

We will post more about suggestions for day trips…

Bis bald,

Das Krefeld 2010 - Team

Monday, May 24, 2010

Noch zwei Wochen...

Hallo Krefelder,

With exactly two weeks to our departure, we want to start using the blog ( to share information about our upcoming trip. We will cover topics ranging from our trip (e.g., latest weather developments, events happening at our destinations), to useful tips & tricks (e.g., traveling, making friends) and fun facts about Germany and the US. So, keep on coming back…

Feel free to comment; however, please remember that this is a public space (so send any individual questions you might have to the IU Honors Program).

Bis bald,

Das Krefeld 2010 – Team

Today, we start with a little history… You might wonder why, of all places, we are going to Krefeld. Actually the city played a significant role in US – German relations:

German immigration in the New World began on an organized basis in 1683 when 33 German from Krefeld arrived in Philadelphia on the ship Concord. They were looking for religious and political freedom and came to Philadelphia through the auspices of William Penn and a German named Franz Daniel Pastorius. The settles called the community they built Germantown which in 1854 became a part of Philadelphia. Seven million German emigrants have come to the USA. Between 1820 and 1920 alone, more than six million German immigrants arrived many of them farmers and artisans. If you have German ancestry, there is a good chance that members of your family emigrated during that time.

Do you know your ancestry?

More info at here.


Moeller, J., Adolph, W. R., Hoechert-Alden, G., & Lalande II, J. F. (2000). Deutsch heute: Die Deutschen in Amerika. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mmm, ich habe Hunger!

In Germany, when we think of May, we think of asparagus season, or Spargelsaison or Spargelzeit in German. We are not talking about the flimsy green strings wrapped in bacon, but real white asparagus smothered in Hollandaise sauce. In Germany asparagus harvest reaches its peak in the weeks of May and June. So when you guys arrive in Germany, the season will be in full force. During this time, Germans eat more than their fill of asparagus - nearly everyday - and eventually get sick of it. Actually, 118 000 tons of white asparagus are consumed in Germany each year - almost all during six weeks! Be open minded and give it a try. Remember, that this is a great opportunity to share your wants with your host family. What would you most like to eat? Love to try? Suggest making traditional family or German dishes for you to taste. Maybe you can familiarize yourself with your own family's traditional recipes, so you can share some American culture with your host family. Make cooking one of your first family activities! We all love to eat!

Check out the following websites for some ideas as to what foods you might encounter while abroad.

On asparagus:

On foods in North Rhine-Westphalia (That is the federal state, in which Krefeld is located):

Sauerbraten! One of the most popular and famous German foods in America!

German food in general.