Jantzen family experiences German culture on two-month trip

Payton Fenwick

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In 2016, senior Kristin Jantzen and freshman John Jantzen traveled to Germany with their family for two months.

They were enrolled in a local high school to keep their education and German up-to-date.

“My brother and I were enrolled in a high school while my dad researched an author named Fontane, who wrote a book with Mennonites in it and my mom visited open-air markets and occasionally helped out in the church’s refugee work,” Kristin said.

The siblings were exposed to the German culture and learning environment. They believed Germany was a great way to experience life outside of the United States.

“German culture is a lot more sink or swim, I think. They just tossed us into their school and it was like (we’re glad you’re here, good luck) and somehow fresh air was more important, because the windows were always open, since there was no air conditioning,” Kristen said.

While Jantzen and her family enjoyed visiting and experiencing a different culture, she would not move there permanently.

“I’d love to go back someday. I’m almost counting on it, in fact. I’m not sure I’d consider moving there though, it’d be so far away from my immediate family and friends,” Kristin said.

German runs in the Jantzen family and they were taught early on to speak German, but it is not as most people expect.

“I’m not sure that I’d quite go so far as to say that I’m fluent in German, but I’m definitely conversational. As for the whole speaking German at home thing, that started way back when my brothers and I were wee things – the hope was to raise us as bilingual and all that – and it’s something that happens less and less, to be honest, but we try to keep it going,” Kristin said. “This trip to Germany definitely improved our German.”

It was not all education and family on this trip though. Her family was able to experience things that most other people may never get to.

“We went and saw the Berlin Philharmonic play Rachmaninov and Tschaikovsky -it was one of those magical things that you can really only dream of ever doing. It was fabulous, really,” Kristin said.