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.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Der Rück´n dut mir verdommt Weh

Things here are going relatively well. I spent the weekend hanging out with a young friend of my boss, who is 22 and lives in a village about an hour south of here. We visited a museum and then went bowling with some of friends. I had a good time, although I´m a terrible bowler (which should come as no surprise to any of you!) and I got kind of sick of explaining over and over that no, actually we in Ami-land don´t really eat fast food every day.

The downside of my weekend stay in the village of Schönbach is that my back now hurts like an expletive which I will refrain from typing in my blog... My new friend is a physical therapist and has undertaken the correction of my bad posture. Apparently the tendons in my neck and upper back are all abnormally short (three guesses why) and I now need to do corrective stretching and back-strengthening exercises. Perhaps this will help in the long-run, but right now I´m jonesing for some Tylenol 3.

So, yesterday I took a look at the room that I´ll probably be staying in. It´s in a basement, but it´s very nicely furnished and I get my own toilet, shower, and mini-fridge, as well as full access to the kitchen, living room, and back yard. The lady of the house will take me with her when she does her grocery shopping (saving me from transporting my groceries on a bike rack); I can eat with the family on weekends; and if they go on short weekend excursions I´m welcome to come along. The only problem is that my rent is rather steep for this area-- €220 per month, including utilities. But I doubt I´ll find anything cheaper, so I´m taking it.

My second adventure today was at the local Sparkasse (savings bank). It took about an hour and a half to open my account, because they don´t get too many American temporary residents in this village and weren´t sure what to do with me at first. Then it turned out that it will take about a week for the travelers´checks I deposited to show up in my account-- lovely. I will have to pay my first month´s rent in cash.

In addition to my biweekly Sorbian lessons, I am also learning the local Oberlausitz dialect. I´m not receiving formal instruction, and I have no immediate plans to learn to actually speak Oberlausitz-- my goal is comprehension. At the present time I can understand about 90% of what is said to me, provided that the Oberlausitzer in question speaks slowly. The dialect is fairly divergent from standard German. For example, Itze gehma daheeme means Jetzt gehen wir nach Hause (let´s go home now) and instead of Ich weiß es auch nicht (I don´t know that either) the locals say Ich weeßes oo(ch) nie.

Ja wanna trade places with me? C´mon, it´s easy-- and it´s not like we don´t speak a dialect too, hey?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I take it that Sorbian quite similar to German? How many of your students speak it?

2:24 AM  
Blogger Ada said...

Nope, sorry for the misunderstanding! Sorbian and German aren´t closely related at all-- Sorbian is a Slavic language related to Czech and Polish, while German is Germanic and closely related to Yiddish and Dutch. The dialect I´m talking about in the this post is the Oberlausitz dialect of GERMAN-- a local variant that might be considered equivalent to the way people talk in the Deep South-- hard to understand, but still the same language. If only Sorbian were so simple!

To answer your other question, I have two Sorbian-speaking students, both in the eighth grade. Out of the 180 or so students at the school, there are only around 5 or 6 Sorbs.

9:35 AM  

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