When I found out that the 2019 NAWCC Ward Francillon Time Symposium was being held in Nuremberg, Germany, I was jealous. I was certain that I wouldn't be attending. Since 2015, I have helped advertise three NAWCC Symposiums in our Watch & Clock Bulletin and Mart & Highlights. Sadly, I didn’t have the opportunity to attend any of them.
Each year the Symposiums seemed fascinating, covering interesting topics like celebrating the du Pont clock collection, examining horology in art, and exploring the world of cars, clocks, and watches. They were held in impressive locations that I have never visited, including the Winterthur Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Henry Ford Museum. Friends and colleagues who attended them told me all about what they saw and did, but I knew it wasn't the same as being there.
The fact that this year's Symposium is being held in Germany was especially cruel because I've wanted to travel to Germany ever since my first German class in high school. I distinctly remember my parents telling me that I couldn't join the German Club's annual trip to Germany. My friends who went told me all about what they saw and did, but again it wasn't the same.
A few years ago, two friends here at the National Watch & Clock Museum took their own horological tour of the Black Forest in Germany. When they returned, they told me all about it…
This pattern changed in April at the HSNY 2019 Gala in New York City. During the event, I spoke with Bob Frishman, Chair of the Ward Francillon Time Symposium. I told him how impressed I was with this year's event. After some discussion, Bob graciously invited me to attend! Now, as I write this, I'm only a few days away from finally taking my trip to Germany where not only will I attend the NAWCC Symposium, but I will also visit several horological museums and workshops in Switzerland, and take two horological tours through the Black Forest and Bavaria.
Although all of the places I’ll be visiting are of interest, there are a few places that I especially look forward to seeing. I’ve heard wonderful things about the Deutsches Uhrenmuseum since starting here at the NAWCC. I’ve perused many of their exhibit catalogs over the years and look forward to visiting their collection. In fact, every year they send us lovely Christmas cards and I’d like to personally thank them for that kindness. The Germanisches Nationalmuseum and the city of Nuremberg are on the list as well. The museum is known for being the largest cultural-history museum in the German-speaking wrold, and the city itself has a long and rich history.
On a non-horological note, I look forward to visiting Albrecht Dürer’s House. I discovered his work when I was a college art student, and his illustrations continue to influence me today. There’s also a tour of a brewery in Munich and a beer tasting — so there’s that, too.
On this site, I’ll be covering all the interesting places and events during my two-week Teutonic timepiece trek. Instead of describing the usual acts of preparation for an international trip, I'd like to share some of the language-learning tools and tricks that I’ve discovered. I haven’t reached fluency in German despite my German heritage and my studies in high school and college. To make up for this, I've resumed my studies and exposure to the language. Here are some of the most effective blogs, podcasts, and services that I've used.
Coffee Break German (Podcast)
Coffee Break German is, far-and-away, the best German language-learning podcast I listen to. The lessons are fun and they advance gradually and logically. It’s hosted by a charming cast of teachers who soon become voices you look forward to hearing. The podcast is free but there is also a paid service with bonus material for learning. Coffee Break German is also active on all the popular social media platforms.
Deutsche Welle (Website)
Deutsche Welle is Germany’s public international broadcaster. Not only is it a multilingual news service, it also hosts a robust language-learning program. Deustch – Warum Nicht is a charming series I’ve listened to many times over the years. Nicos Weg is a video series for beginners that is part soap opera, part language learning program that I found useful and entertaining as well. Reading the news first in your native language and then in German is a useful tip that an American friend of mine, who is fluent in German, suggested to me. Give it a try!
Duolingo is one of the most popular language-learning apps for smartphones and tablets. However, many users don’t know that the web version offers extra features that the handheld versions do not. Duolingo Stories is one of these features. Stories is structured to apply your foreign language-learning skills in different narratives. Personally, I find I’ve learned more from Stories than progressing through the skill tree.
Hearthstone and Diablo III (Video Games)
Did you know that many modern games are available to play in different languages, including German? I found that playing a game in a different language provides a unique learning opportunity. Words or phrases that you don’t understand will become clear once you see them applied in a game world. Blizzard Entertainment, the maker of many world-famous games such as World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and the Diablo series, is a developer that I especially enjoy playing games auf Deutsch. The quality of the voice-over work and text translation is top notch. Stay tuned for future updates and look for me on Twitter @watchnews_nawcc, Facebook @nawccwatchnews, and Instagram @nawccwatchnews.