Auf Wiedersehen, Until Next Time


The German expression auf Wiedersehen seems less final than goodbye in English which implies forever or farewell. The German appears hopeful and means until we see one another again. At the conclusion of both Fulbright experiences in Germany, the Director of the American Unit said to me “until next time” which caused me to wonder if there would be a next time. Now I understand it better. I didn’t think there would be a next time as I left to return to the US, but until next time turned out for me to mean until his daughter came to the US and stayed with us briefly during her exchange year. Next time can be the next email exchange or phone call. It is a more pleasant manner of leave-taking which is often bittersweet.

As an educator, I annually offer a handshake or hug to my graduating seniors who are mostly leaving me for college. It has happened that I have shed a tear or two, sometimes out of sheer happiness and sometimes because I may never see this student again. Often I have been fortunate enough to have taught some students for four or more years. While I request that students keep in touch after they leave me, some do, and others do not. These are moments tinged with sadness.


Recently a former student met me before leaving to study in Germany. We spoke about living abroad, and I saw an excited and hopeful young man off on the adventure of a lifetime. My students hear the advice in their senior year to continue German in college and perhaps major or minor in it and to someday live and study in Germany. Now this young man is taking a leap of faith and living the dream of studying in Germany. I can only imagine my parents as they saw me off at the airport for what was to have been one year abroad in Germany and turned into three.

I composed a short poem about leave-taking this week:

Bittersweet Moments

Sometimes words are unnecessary.
Goodbyes are but temporary:
outstretched hugging arms, smiles,
pats on backs suffice. A silent tear.
Hopes and fears merge.

heidelbergIMG_0242Ger.-Am. Society Scholarship 4.27.150001IMG_0231Tom & Emily in Ger. clothes with mom & grandma00012007  J & M A0001

This entry was posted in auf Wiedersehen, education, educator, faith, German, life lessons, saying goodbyes, students, study abroad and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Auf Wiedersehen, Until Next Time

  1. Tom says:

    I like the poem at the end. More poetry would be fun to read in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Several people have commented on the poem which came to me quickly and describes what I did and my feelings at the time. I carried the words around in my pocket all week and looked at them from time to time. Sometimes poetry comes to me in creative bursts and other times, the poetry is silent and simply observing and waiting and pondering. Do you ever do that with your writing? Thank you for the kind words.


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