Ada Abroad: Living and Working in Germany

An online journal recording two years spent as a Fulbright/Pedagogical Exchange Service Teaching Assistant at secondary schools in Germany. (2003-2004 I was in a village near Bautzen; 2004-2005 I will be in Nordrhein-Westfalen.)

Location: Münster, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

I'm an American living in Germany, working as a foreign language assistant at a secondary school. Future plans: getting my Ph.D. (probably in Germanic Linguistics), becoming a professor, living an ethical and meaningful life.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The Great Escape, Part I: Party in the Rheinland

After making my hamsterlike escape, the first place I hit was Düsseldorf, a major city in Nordrhein-Westfalen noted for its fashion industry and the fact that my friend the Jewkrainian lives there.

After many weeks in a bleak provincial village, the bustle of the Ruhrgebiet was almost too much for me. I felt like a person who’d just been let out of prison. I annoyed my fellow Fulbrighters with comments such as, “Goodness, do those teenagers have their natural hair color?!? Wow, there are so many people here, and I’ve never seen any of them before!!! Oh my God, you can buy falafel here!!! Listen, I think that man is speaking English!!! What? The public transit here runs on weekends, too!?!”

Three other TA buddies of mine were visiting the Jewkrainian for the weekend. It wasn’t so much that she had suddenly become immensely popular, it was just that this particular weekend was Karneval, the German version of Mardi Gras, and Düsseldorf is one of the two biggest Karneval cities. The other is Köln (Cologne to you English-speakers), which is only 45 minutes away by train.

Karneval was an interesting experience, though not one I’d go out of my way to have again. Streets full of broken beer bottles get old pretty quickly, and those whistles everybody had were really annoying.

Highlights of Karneval:

-Watching a man dressed as a Bedouin woman flash his buttcheeks at the crowd from atop a pedestal.

-Being photographed with a group of very drunken men dressed in pink bunny suits.

-The train trip back from Köln to Düsseldorf on Friday night: a group of elderly people wearing turbans and/or 18th century costumes sang traditional songs in Kölsch dialect.

-The Jewkrainian’s pasta dish: a vegetarian delight.

-Visiting the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen and getting to see a painting I know very well in person: I used to look at it every day in my favorite professor’s office!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's with the pink bunny suits? Preparation for Easter?

11:09 PM  
Blogger Ada said...

Costumes are traditional for Karneval. I don't know why this group of guys chose to go in bunny suits, but I also saw men dressed as nuns, women dressed as hookers (or maybe they actually were!), lots of clowns, Indians, and one highland Scot in a kilt!

12:11 PM  

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