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.)

Name:
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.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Life after Dorf

As you may have gathered from the change in the "location" information at the top of my blog, I'm back in Michigan now. Nine days ago I successfully escaped my village for once and for all. There was none of the bittersweet feeling that usually overwhelms me when I have to leave a place I've lived in behind. I was thrilled to get ouf of there: absolutely beaming. It's such a relief to know that I never, ever have to go back to that dorf again.

No more running into my evil host family at the grocery store! No more narrow-minded, anal-retentive boss! No more going weeks without having a good conversation in person! No more dodging the Neo-Nazi morons in front of the school! I'm free! I'm free! I'm free!

Ok. You get the point.

So now I'll tell you about what's been going on since then.

Mr. A drove me to the train station in Bautzen on the morning of July 1st. I took the train from there to Hannover. I had to change twice, in Dresden and Leipzig. This was unfortunate because my luggage weighed more than me and DDR-era train stations don't even have escalators, let alone elevators. So I had to haul my big suitcase (a.k.a. "The Monster"), its smaller companion ("Little Monster"), my overstuffed backpack, and my laptop up the stairs manually, taking multiple trips. It took me 15 minutes to get from Platform 1 to Platform 3 in Dresden Neustadt!

Hannover was fantastic. I came for a friend's wedding, which was held on July 2nd. I liked the wedding a lot. Some of the cheesier wedding customs found in the US aren't practiced in Germany, and my friend and her husband dispensed with those that are. So, no one gave the bride away-- a custom that's always bothered me, since it essentially turns the ceremony back into a property exchange--, no embarassing-to-watch tongue kissing in the church (or at the reception), no bouquet toss, no garter removal, no drunken speeches by the best man (or anyone else), and while there was dancing, it was blessedly optional. This wedding was, in short, tasteful. And since a bunch of cool people were seated with me at the reception, I had quite a good time.

And of course, it was just nice to see my friend again!

After spending three days in Hannover I headed to Berlin. I arrived kind of late in the day and was tired from hauling around The Monster again, so I didn't do much in the city, though I did meet a Stammtisch buddy for dinner. (She'll be working at a summer camp there for a couple of weeks.)

The following morning I flew home. This was kind of an exasperating process.

The taxi-driver who picked me up from my hotel wasn't your typical big, burly type. I think I got the only taxi in Berlin operated by a tiny little Turkish woman (my height!) who couldn't even lift my suitcases into the car without help, let alone move them from the curb to the trunk for me. It was raining buckets at the time, so my stuff all got wet. Making matters worse, she also dropped me off at the wrong end of the terminal, so I had to haul my monstrous luggage several hundred yards to get to the appropriate check-in desk. (Without a cart. They all seemed to be in use...) When I reached the line for said desk, the elderly Brazilian woman in front of me half-asked, half-ordered me to let her traveling companions (a half-dozen other elderly Brazilians, each with a large luggage cart) cut in front of me. This meant that I had to walk about 15 feet further, which normally wouldn't be a big deal, but I felt like I was about to collapse. So I was a bit put out.

The Monster was 6 grams under the weight limit.

My first flight (Berlin-Frankfurt) was a half-hour delayed. Already running late, I lost more time waiting for my second boarding pass to print-- for some weird reason, they couldn't give me both passes when I checked in in Berlin. I made it to the boarding area for my Frankfurt-Detroit flight with only 15 minutes to spare.

The second flight was uneventful, except for a 3-year-old Syrian boy sitting directly across the aisle from me who screamed and punched his mother for nine hours straight.

I arrived at Detroit Metropolitan Airport at about 4:30 and had no trouble getting through customs, because I could say the magic word ("Fulbright"). My mom and my friend Kim met me in the waiting area. I was, of course, really happy to see them! After a brief hassle with an evil, troll-like parking attendant, I could FINALLY go home!

And here I am.

(More soon on what I've been doing since I got back.)

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adie, we're happy to have you home. Welcome back! Mom

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Blogger Ada said...

I'm glad to be here!

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