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.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Lektüre: -Siegfried Lenz, Der Verlust (German lit)
-Anne Frank, Het Achterhuis (Dutch)
-Günther Schweikle, Germanisch-deutsche Sprachgeschichte im Überblick (linguistics)

Tagesmenü: -organic whole-wheat farfalle pasta with spinach-cheese sauce
-tap water
-an apple
-dark chocolate

Nervensäge: -living in a tiny village full of senior citizens

Last week was Easter Break at my school. Naturally, I used the opportunity to escape from my village. (For a hamster-based extended metaphor, please refer to the entry “Escape! Escape!”)

I went to Dresden.

Physically, Dresden is only 45 minutes from Bautzen by train. Metaphysically it is in another world entirely—possibly even another dimension.

There is a university in Dresden, so there are young people. Really. You can actually see people between the ages of 20 and 40 just walking around on the street there, as if it was the most normal thing in the world. And get this—there are plenty of non-German people in Dresden. You can overhear snippets of conversation in Turkish and Russian, for example. Sometimes you can even see black people!

The restaurants offer vegetarian options. The public transportation runs every ten minutes during the day, and, though it slows down at night, it never stops entirely. Some theaters show independent films. They have art museums.

Dresden exists in the same dimension as the rest of modern, cosmopolitan Germany, whereas Bautzen is in some weird parallel universe (possibly inside a black hole) in which the Wall never fell. Transitioning between the two is difficult. My temporal lobes went on the fritz as soon as I arrived. Overstimulation, probably.

I had a fantastic time. One of my main activities: shopping. I’m not a bigger shopper in the US, but after spending months in a town where the only things worth purchasing are mustard and Sorbian folk art (and, let’s face it, you only buy so much of that), I was ready to shell out some euros. Here’s what I picked up:

Stuff I bought in the big city:

-a cute skirt and a top

-sandalwood incense (handmade at an ashram in Pondicherry, India) and an incense burner

-a book (in German) about the differences between British and American English—informative overall, but it contains some interesting errors (Do you know anyone who refers to the seeds in fruit as “pips”? Me neither.)

-shitake mushroom spread for sandwiches (organic and vegetarian), veggie burger mix, the organic noodles I had for lunch today, and some spelt

-postcards from the art museum, with which to decorate my apartment

I also went to museums and did some sight-seeing. But the best part of the trip was hanging out with some pretty cool people. My host, a design student who grew up in my dinky village but has spent a lot of time in California and pretty much gone native, spoiled me rotten and gave great sight-seeing tips to boot. And then I spent a day hanging out with IL, a Fulbright linguist, and enjoyed the first intellectual conversations I’ve had since Berlin. (As a linguistics geek, it’s always nice to be able to toss around phrases like “voiced bilabial fricative” without having to explain yourself.)

It was really hard to go back to the dorf again. I still haven't readjusted!


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I'm from the UK and most people call them pips!

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