Chapter 33 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part II

Missing Biene


Another historic photo of the University of Calgary in the mid 1960’s!

At the end of the frosh week, during which we new students received our orientation and introduction into the life on campus, the university had organized a dance in the huge gymnasium of the Physical Education complex. Six bands were playing alternately rock and more traditional music. They made sure that there was never a break for the indefatigable couples on the dance floor. Having no friends to hang out with, I felt lonely and wished that Biene were there sharing this special moment with me. With all the tables taken I had no place to sit down. I leaned against the back wall taking in some of my favourite music I remembered so well from my birthday parties. But I was not in the mood to enjoy it. So I left, took the next available bus and returned to my humble basement room. To overcome my feeling of loneliness I wrote a letter to Biene.

September 19th Calgary

My dear Biene, now you will get to know how things turned out with my search for an apartment and with my introduction to the university. For days I have been running around in the northwestern section of Calgary, until I finally decided on a small basement suite. I am exaggerating if I say suite, because it is only one large room. Table and chairs, bed and cupboard, as well as a gas heater and some basic cooking facilities are included in the rent, which is thirty dollars a month. To be totally independent, I decided to exclude bedding from the rental agreement, which would have cost me five dollars more. Now it is gradually turning into a really cozy place All day long I scrubbed the dirty walls, mopped the linoleum floor and cleaned the windows. My old wooden crate has been converted into a cooking stand so that the table remains free for my studies. Oh and then came all the shopping I had to do: bedclothes, blankets, cutlery, bowls and plates, a small radio, etc. Now I am satisfied and wonder whether you would like it.

An old lady also lives down here in the basement adjacent to my room. She is very pleasant and enjoys the sound of my guitar, which I sometimes play for relaxation. I could hardly suppress my astonishment about her ignorance of geography. When I told her that I had come from Germany, she asked me, where that city was located in Canada.

Yesterday we had our orientation complete with welcome speeches and formal ceremonies for the frosh. The professors spoke so clearly and distinctly that all my fear disappeared from my anxious heart. I have already made the acquaintance with a couple of classmates and hope to meet them again later on. To understand them is quite a bit harder for me, because they just don’t make the effort to speak clearly and distinctly.

Yes, dear Biene, if you were here, my happiness would be complete. How much I miss you, I again felt last night, when after the formalities the six largest bands of the city were playing music in the gymnasium, where everyone was dancing except you and me …

The very next day the fall session began. Since I was in a first year program, most of the lectures were held in auditorium-sized rooms accommodating more than a hundred students at a time. Courses like calculus and psychology that were being shared by other departments were especially crowded. Having chosen a senior course in German turned out to be a blessing. Dr. Cardinal, a very likeable professor, was teaching The Age of Goethe to our small group of three students. Here my mind could at least take a short break from the great demands in the other subject areas. Ever since Biene and I had decided on starting our life together as husband and wife in Canada, I knew that I had not merely entered a race for the survival in the academic training program, but also committed myself to an all-out effort to achieve an above average standing. For only with a grade point average of close to an A could I hope to receive substantial government grants and scholarships for the second year. I had poured my entire savings from my army service and my summer earnings as a labourer into the cost of tuition, textbooks, rent and living expenses. There would be little left for me to finance another academic year except with the help of financial support from the Alberta Government. Thus, in spite of my limited English language skills I set my goal to nothing less that a B+ over all standing. To achieve this, I had to get near perfect scores in German and Calculus, while maintaining a minimum of 70% final grade in the other subjects. For the first couple of weeks this appeared to be an unobtainable target. I often communicated my concerns and worries with Biene. I told her that I did not want our life to start in poverty with no chance for a prosperous future. Even just to finish the year with merely passing grades looked like a great challenge to me in the beginning. Then came another shock. I had set my hopes on studying lecture notes and textbooks and on doing well in the multiple-choice tests that were becoming very popular in the mid sixties. Instead we were required to write one essay after another. I felt that I could not compete very well in this challenging field  with my Canadian fellow students. A visit to the office of my English professor was going to shed some light onto the nebulous trail of my academic future at the U of C.

11 thoughts on “Chapter 33 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part II

  1. Immer wieder muß ich Deinen Mut und Deinen Durchsetzungswillen bewundern,Peter! Ich versetze mich jedes mal in die damalige Lage von Biene und Dir.. Es gehörte wirklich eine große Portion Zuversicht und Kraft dazu, Eure Pläne in Angriff zu nehmen und durchzusetzen..Soviel Neues und Unbekanntes zu bewältigen zeigt , wie sehr ihr Euch geliebt habt! (Und es ist ja noch heute so..☺👍)
    Und Du hast ja Deine Ziele ohne zu Zögern anvisiert!
    Spannend zu lesen, Peter!
    Liebe Grüße!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Da hast du den Nagel auf den Kopf getroffen. In der Tat war es die Liebe zwischen uns beiden, die uns beflügelten, die Herausforderungen und Schwierigkeiten des Lebens im Ausland zu überwinden. Dass am Ende alles in die richtigen Bahnen gelenkt wurde, kommt mir heute rückblickend wie ein großes Wunder vor. Doch warte, liebe Edda, da kommt noch so Manches auf uns zu. Du glaubst gar nicht, wie sehr ich mich über dein Interesse und deine Anteilnahme freue. Ganz liebe Grüße aus dem sonnigen Kanada!


  2. I can’t imagine the pressure you must have felt to do well in your studies! And I can’t wait to hear how this turned out. Seriously, knowing that you two ended up happily together makes it so much easier to read about the trials and tribulations…it would be beyond sad if you lost each other!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, dear Ann for your kind words. Even though you know the ending of the story, you are fascinated by the many challenges that Biene and I were facing and how we dealt with them. Greetings from Canada to you and your family!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ich verfolge die Geschichten von Dir und Biene immer wie einen Fortsetzungsroman. Es ist wirklich interessant, wie Ihr Euch so durchgeschlagen habt in einem so fremden Land mit nicht ganz perfekten Sprachkenntnissen. Man kann Euch nur beglückwünschen für das, was Ihr geschafft habt. Schönen Sonntag aus dem verschneiten Hamburg, Mitza

    Liked by 1 person

    • Das war wieder eine große Freude, deinen lieben Kommentar zu lesen. Wie schnell kann man ein Sternchen geben, ohne den Post gelesen zu haben. Doch deine lieben Worte zeigen, wie du liebe Mitza unsere Liebesgeschichte mit Interesse liest. Ein verschneites Hamburg so nahe an der Nordsee ist schon ein Ereignis. Hier bei uns wünschen uns eine weiße Weihnacht. Die graue Welt braucht eine glitzernde Schneedecke. Liebe Grüße aus Kanada!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ja, das stimmt. Man kann schnell mal ein Sternchen geben, und ehrlicherweise tue ich das auch manchmal, denn man hat ja nicht immer so viel Zeit, alles zu lesen, und außerdem ist ja auch nicht alles so interessant.
        Ich wünsche Euch weiße Weihnachten. Ich kann gut auf Schnee verzichten 🙂 Liebe Grüße Mitza

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Sehr spannend zu lesen.
    Ich frage mich, wie man in der großen Not, die Du erlebt hast, gesund bleibt?!
    Mein Englisch ist gut genug, um das meiste zu lesen, aber z.b. beim Magazin “Science” wird es ein bisschen zu hart für mich. Daher wäre ein Tag im harten Englisch, zudem manchmal schlampig ausgesprochen, wirklich kopfschmerzenbereitend.
    Danke für den Text!

    Was die Likes angeht: Ich bekomme manchmal von jemand 5 Likes die Minute, sodaß von einem Wahrnehmen des Post-Inhalts nicht mehr die Rede sein kann. Und trotzdem muß ich damit zufrieden sein, was bleibt mir sonst übrig.
    Ich habe jetzt ein Jahr lang abertausende Comments abgesetzt auf verschiedenen durchaus interessanten Seiten, aber nur wenig kommt zurück. Man wird etwas mürbe und fragt sich, ob es weiter Sinn macht oder ob man den Blog eher beiläufig weiterführen sollte. Ich wusste das alles zuvor, kenne ich doch schon länger andere gute Blogs, bei denen praktisch nie kommentiert wird.
    Solange ich aber etwas zu sagen habe, mache ich so weiter.
    Schönen Tag Dir!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vielen Dank mein lieber Gerhard für deine verständnisvollen Worte! Rückblickend kann ich mich wirklich über den Mut, den Unternehmungsgeist und auch über die Geduld wundern, die wir damals aufgebracht haben, um unser Ziel in Kanada zu erreichen.

      Ich weiß nicht, ob es dir ein Trost sein wird zu wissen, dass ich auch oft von denselben Gedanken geplagt wurde, die ganze Blog Schreiberei aufzugeben. Viele Folger sind zu faul, um den Post zu lesen und geben schnell ein Like, um eines wieder zu kriegen. Da bleiben dann wirklich nur ein Handvoll von Lesern, die deinen Blog wirklich mit Interesse verfolgen. Von den paar Leuten kann ich aber sagen, dass es sich lohnt einen Post zu schreiben. Letzten Endes schreibt man doch alles für sich selber auf dem dornigen Weg der Selbsterkenntnis. Vielen Dank, lieber Gerhard, für deine lieben etwas melancholischen Zeilen aus meiner alten Heimat!

      Liked by 1 person

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