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

Facing the Challenges of the English Literature Course


University Campus with the Calgary Tower in the Background

I took some comfort in the fact that the English literature classes were small. The one I attended had only twenty students under the loving tutelage of Dr. Alexander. In my mind I called her Dr. Nightingale, because she was frequently teasing her students for not knowing the European songbird that had taken such a prominent place in John Keat’s ‘Ode to a Nightingale’. I went to see her one day after class in her office to get advice as to how to cope with my language problems. Apparently having a good knowledge of the European high school system, she pointed out that I had studied the principles of essay writing for much longer and in greater depth than my Canadian fellow students. What I would have to do was to concentrate my efforts on expanding my active and passive vocabulary and thus build up my confidence.

I became very eager to prove my ability to write well after this encouraging and heart-warming interview.  Near the end of one of the Friday morning lectures Dr. Alexander announced to the class that for Monday she planned on giving us a written test on one of two topics having to do with poems of English Romanticism. Having all weekend to prepare myself I chose the topic I felt most comfortable with, I first wrote the essay on a piece of scrap paper, then memorized the three pages sentence by sentence. When I could recite the entire text out loud, I was looking forward to take the test. All I needed to do now was to rewrite the essay from memory on the official exam paper on Monday. How proud I would feel, if I could report to Biene my first A in English 240!

Well rested and as I thought well prepared I sat at my desk in the small lecture room waiting for Dr. Alexander to come in, while others were chatting about all the fun they had had over the weekend. A bit annoyed that they were partying while I had been studying so hard, but at the same time quite relieved that with their poor preparation I would have a better chance of getting a high mark on the test, I attempted to tune them out and tried to focus on the precious content I had stored in my memory. By now I was well known to the other students for my strong, not necessarily unpleasant German accent and my often-stilted way of expressing myself. Some asked, “Well, Peter, I bet, you studied really hard for the exam.”

“I studied hard enough to get by with a passing grade,” I replied trying to be modest.

Then our professor walked in with her endearing smile. Without further ado she handed out the papers and then announced, “You will write on the second topic”, whereupon she sat down apparently quite content to spend the lecture free morning watching us write.

In the meantime I felt the emotional shockwaves of her incredible announcement racing through my mind. Believing we had a choice between the two topics, I had studied for the first one. For several minutes I stared at the blank paper in front of me. The pen I held in my right hand did not move for a very long time. Then finally I began to calm down. Under pressure and time constraints, where others would fall apart, I had the ability to make the best out of a bad situation. In a creative surge I took the parts of the memorized essay, which at least by some stretch of imagination bore some resemblance to topic two, reworded them and recombined them with ideas which I had picked up at the lectures. In spite of the initial delay I was able to hand in my finished work at the end of the fifty-minute session. With some apprehension I was awaiting the return of my paper. Great was my relief when I read the professor’s comment, ‘Well written! But very weak conclusion! 67%.’

23 thoughts on “Chapter 33 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part III

  1. Dear Peter
    I can very well imagine how you were feeling. When I came to Canada my English was more than poor and I was not confident. So I spoke very little. To enlarge my vocabulary I read a lot of literature and looked up every word I came across – not only its meaning but its pronunciation as well. That helped a lot but I have still problems with pronunciation and everyone immediately notices from my accent me being German. Successfully I used little trick in the beginning. As I have had 9 years of Latin at school I used the Latin word pronouncing it in an English way. Later I heard from my students that they thought that I am speaking a very posh English.
    We are wishing you a wonderful and cosy pre-Christmas time
    Klausbernd and The Fab Four of Cley

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Klausbernd, you brought me a lot of joy and comfort with your detailed response to my blog post. All the more so, as I am presently away from home receiving radiation treatment for a cancer in my neck. The more I read your posts so skilfully written embellished with outstanding photos the more I feel a certain kinship between my family and yours. Nine years of Latin helped me as well to weather the onslaught of new words, especially in the psychology courses that were mandatory at the U of C. As to the accent, 30 years plus in the school system did a fine job of linguistic assimilation. My wife Biene has still a slight German accent, but in a land of immigrants that is considered quite normal.
      Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas, you and The Fab Four of Cley!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh lieber Peter, das tut uns so leid für dich, das sind gar nicht gute Nachrichten! Und for Biene. ❤ Musst du noch lange fort bleiben, bekommst du noch viele Bestrahlungen? Wir senden dir viel gute Heilenergie, love, hugs and kisses and fairy dust and may you and Biene have a Merry and Blessed Christmas as well! xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Vielen Dank, Dina, für die liebevolle Anteilnahme. Ich habe jetzt eine Woche hinter mir. Damit sind 5 von den 35 Bestrahlungen abgewickelt. Es ist ein langer Weg zur Besserung. Once again many thanks and Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh je, lieber Peter, das ist ein langer Weg. Bist du auch operiert worden, bekommst du eine Chemo? Ich will nicht neugierig klingen, aber ich bin vom Fach und frage mich, ob es eine Hautgeschichte ist oder ob Weichteile betroffen sind. Verträgst du die Bestrahlungen gut? Alles, alles Gute für dich❣️

        Liked by 1 person

      • Vielen Dank, liebe Dina, für deine lieben Wünsche und deine fürsorgliche Nachfrage! Es handelt sich um einen Krebs am Hals, der durch einen Virus verursacht wurde. Ein PET Scan ergab, dass es keine weiteren Herde im Körper gab. Eine Operation wurde nicht in Betracht gezogen. Auch bekomme ich zum Glück kein Chemo! Heute morgen hatte ich meine 6. Bestrahlung und fühle mich nicht zu schlecht. Ich wohne hier in einem Hotel, bin aber an den Wochenenden zu Hause. Wie schön, wie sich meine Familie, Biene und unsere fünf Söhne um mich kümmern, dazu noch andere Verwandte und Blogging Freunde aus der ganzen Welt. Manchmal wenn ich nachts aufwache, dann klingelt es in meinem iPad. Dann weiß ich, das wieder jemand in der weiten Welt an mich gedacht hat. Ein neuer und wunderbare Aspekt vom Blogging, den ich jetzt so richtig zu schätzen weiß. Ganz ganz liebe Grüße aus dem fernen Kanada! So weit und doch so nah!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Guten Morgen, lieber Peter
        das tut mir leid mit deiner Krebsbehandlung. Wir alle hoffen, dass es dir bald wieder gut geht und die Behandlung ihre volle Wirkung entfaltet.
        Wir senden dir gaaaanz viel heilende Energie und feinsten Feenstaub – oh dear, oh dear, das Korrekturprogramm wollte ‘Feenstaub’ zu ‘Feinstaub’ machen …
        Liebe Grüße vom kleinen Dorf am großen Meer
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Guten Abend! Bei uns ist es gerade Mittag. Welch eine Freude habt ihr mir mit eurem lieben Kommentar bereitet. Das Wissen um so viel Mitgefühl trägt viel zu meiner Heilung bei. Ihr habt da heilende Energie und sogar Feenstaub über den großen Ozean geblasen. Das kann ich hier in meinem Hotelzimmer richtig spüren. Heute kommen meine Frau Biene, die ihr schon von meinem Blog kennt, und unser Sohn Richard mich in Kelowna besuchen. Und nächste Woche für die Weihnachtstage bin ich ein paar Tage zu Hause. Ich bin sehr optimistisch und glaube fest an eine baldige Heilung.

        Allerliebste Grüße aus dem fernen Kanada!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Peter, I can imagine how you felt. How did you cope with the tiredness because of the extra effort? That tiredness must have been a true companion in those days.

    Habe ich unheimlich gerne gelesen! Fabelhaft beschrieben.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hallo, Peter!
    Da hast Du Dich ja erneut ein weiteres Mal tapfer geschlagen, nicht viele hätten das so überlegt hinbekommen . Die Nerven müssen doch blank gelegen haben..
    Alle Achtung!! Und mit dem Ergebnis konntest Du sehr zufrieden sein,was?
    Immer wieder gibt es neue Überraschungen…Nicht zu glauben..

    Du weißt, Peter, daß wir Dir alles, alles Gute wünschen, bleib so tapfer wie bisher!
    Ganz herzliche Grüße an Biene und Dich von uns .👋👋👋

    Liked by 1 person

    • Noch so viele liebe Gedanken so spät am Abend, das war eine tolle Überraschung, liebe Edda. 67% in einem Aufsatz würde einer deutschen Drei entsprechen, nicht schlecht für einen, der auf der Penne nichts als Fünfen in Englisch gekriegt hat.
      Es freut mich, dass du unsere Geschichte nicht langweilig findest. Da kommen aber noch schwere Zeiten auf uns zu, bis wir uns endlich beim Calgary Airport umarmen konnten. Ganz liebe Grüße auch an alle, die euch besuchen oder ihr besuchen geht. Frohe Weihnachten!!!


  4. Well done, Peter! A score of 67% in such circumstances is a very impressive feat indeed. Incidentally, I was sorry to read (in your response to an earlier commenter) about the treatment you have recently been undergoing. Please let me wish you a complete and speedy recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

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