Sommer in Deutschland

Published 1:11 am Saturday, July 27, 2013

James Albritton is shown in the European countryside, above, and on a rainy day in Munich, below.

James Albritton is shown in the European countryside, above, and on a rainy day in Munich, below.

Albritton spends most of summer honing skills in German school

Years ago, Tom, Amanda, Hunter and James Albritton were the host family for a German exchange student, Sandra Kattier.

Through the years, the Albritton and Kattier families have remained close, visiting back and forth. This summer, James Albritton – who was so young when Sandra lived with his family that he doesn’t even remember it – lived with the Kattiers and studied in Germany.

A rising Andalusia High School junior, James had two semesters of high school German behind him when he set off on his adventure in May.

“Having had two classes of German, I had like basic sentence stuff, and vocabulary,” he said, adding that his skills weren’t strong enough to be considered conversational.

But those skills improved, and by the time he left, his host family said, he spoke German well.

The Kattiers live outside of Aachen, Germany’s westernmost city, located on the Belgium border.

James flew to Germany as soon as school was out, and spent the first week visiting interesting sites.

“Being in Munich was really fun,” he said, adding that he enjoyed the restaurants and the culture.

“I loved German food.”

His favorites were white sausage and a goulash soup.

After a week off, it was on to class at a private Catholic school, where he audited a number of classes, including art, P.E., German, theater and math.

An affirmed math and science guy who plans to pursue a degree in engineering, James said he liked his art classes best. But not necessarily because of the art.

“It was because you could talk in class,” he said. “I could use German and English, and it helped the most, language wise.”

Almost everyone he met spoke English, he said, adding that they understand the language very well.

“In an English class, people who could pick out literary structure and elements of writing that I couldn’t pick out,” he said. “They were better.”

Math, he said, was easier.

School days vary in length, ending some days at 1:30, some days at 4.

During the week, he went home after school, had dinner, read and slept. On weekends, he would go into Aichen with friends, eat, talk and walk around.

In addition to Munich, he visited Bann and Cologne in Germany, and went to Belgium and the Netherlands.

Almost every summer, James has been to a camp or class that presented a learning opportunity. For instance, last year, he did a two-week academic program at the University of Michigan that explored the physics of roller coasters.

That was cool, but this summer, he said, was the “No. 1, best ever.”

At AHS, James plays soccer, is a member of the SGA, and is on the yearbook staff. He also is an Eagle Scout.