Gretchen Kramer shatters her horizons in semester abroad


Every day last semester, senior Gretchen Kramer arose to the beautiful sunrise that can only be experienced in the land of her ancestors. The subtle mix of the yellows and oranges of the light gently stirred her from her sleep every morning. For Gretchen spent last semester abroad in Germany, where she immersed herself in the rich language and culture alongside like-minded fifth graders.

“I went to school at a regular high school,” Kramer said. “Except forGerman class. That was with fifth graders.”

It is not difficult to organize such a horizon-broadening journey, according to Kramer. She went through Ames’ German-American Partnership Program.

“I bought a plane ticket and got a passport,” she said. “Then, I flew like a little bird across the Atlantic and when I got off the plane I screamed ‘GRETCHEN’S HEEEREE’ and hosts came running from every direction to buy for my affection.”

Through her experience in Kramerland, Gretchen experienced true, authentic German culture.

“My host sisters had different coats to go with different outfits,” she said. “but I was in my Columbia the whole time.”

Studying in Germany allowed Gretchen to not only explore rich texts and philosophies, but also to compare the fine German education system with that of America’s. She notes the differences between the two avenues of learning.

“German students were relaxed,” she said, “as contrasted to here in Ames, where everyone seems to have something shoved up… well, you know what I mean.”

Language-wise, the trip went smoothly as Gretchen was able to communicate at first only using the simple German words for “yes” and “no.” Further into the stages of her enlightenment, she became a master of the full array of German expletives. However, she did experience some translational issues whilst abroad.

“I was supposed to write a paper on bats,” she said,” But I wrote it about field mice because the German words for the two animals are so similar. And don’t even get me started about the Periodic Table.”

Kramer, a protein-bar vegetarian, was still able to access nourishment in her travels.

“I took a BIG dip in the bread, coffee, and chocolate,” she said. “Overall the food was great but I hated the sauerkraut.”

Although Gretchen took less-traditional approach of educating herself, she truly found herself along her journey in a sort of spiritual awakening. Nonetheless, she is now fully equipped to cuss you out while you have no idea what she is saying.