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, March 07, 2005

Journey to the Planet of the Smart People

Imagine 300 or so highly motivated, intellectual young Americans who work and study throughout Europe: mostly in Germany, but also in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Greece, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. They are graduate students, teaching assistants, journalists, researchers, teachers, and professors. Their areas of expertise encompass everything from subatomic particles to medieval literature. These are the kids who were in the gifted classes at school, or who got beat up on the playground because the other ten-year-olds didn’t understand their interest in the lifeways of Mongolian nomads. Essentially, these are grown-up nerds.

But they’re cool nerds. Well-rounded, articulate, personable nerds. Funny and friendly nerds. Since they’ve outgrown their high-water trousers and stopped taping their glasses together, these are some pretty attractive nerds.

Now imagine gathering these nerds together. For five days, they all stay at a four-star hotel in the heart of Europe’s most dynamic, multicultural metropolis: Berlin. All of their expenses are paid. When they’re not learning about each others’ research, stuffing themselves at buffets and wine-and-cheese affairs, or attending concerts organized by musical nerds, our heroes are free to wander the city, take in museums, plays and films, or party down in Berlin’s innumerable bars and clubs.

Welcome to the annual Fulbright Berlin Conference.

This is where I spent last week. And let me tell you, it was FANTASTIC.

Aside from making new friends and hanging out in the coolest city I’ve ever been too, I learned a lot. It was incredibly intellectually stimulating! New topics to research (among others, Quakerism and Wilhelm Gleim), new films to see (“Bubbahotep”?), new places to check out—I feel the need to visit Bonn, Rheinland-Pfalz, and Dresden as soon as possible!

My plan to renew my TA-ship and spend another year in Germany (NOT in my current village; NOT at my current school; actually I want to be as far away from both as possible!) got a big boost, too. Mr. “Cleaner Drain,”* who is to the German-American Fulbright program what the Queen is to England, is impressed that I want to stay another year even though my experience this year hasn’t exactly been fantastic. So he’s going to contact the Pädagogischer Austauschdienst and have them put a note in my reapplication file. Basically, something along the lines of “Take this woman, and put her in a nice school in a university town, or else!”

I’m in! I’m in!

*This is what the man’s name means in German. It’s most unfortunate.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's good news! it would be great if you could stay another year, and have a better experience. i'm not saying that THIS experience wasn't good...but you know what i mean :)

1:12 AM  
Blogger Ada said...

You can be blunt, Christina! ;) While I have learned a lot from this experience, the only parts that were truly enjoyable were those when I was somewhere else (NOT in my village!).

9:30 AM  

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