August and September – “Infancy”

Well, it’s January. 2015. I’ve been living and working as a Fulbrighter in Germany for a little over four months now -and I still haven’t figured out how to navigate this blogging site adequately enough to make regular posts. (Facebook is just so much more user-friendly!) So this is my attempt at redeeming myself. This is for the people who want to know what’s going on in my life, but don’t have a Facebook account – I care about you too and thank you for your support!

Ah “infancy” – the first stage of life. Everything is new. Everything is mysterious and wonderful and awe-inspiring, and to be honest, sometimes absolutely terrifying. Here are my experiences as an “infant” Fulbrighter.

1. I finally caught up with my peers in the 21st century:

Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 6:24pm UTC+02

Hey everyone, I’m in Germany! Trying to figure out how to use my new phone (my first smart phone!). At least I’ve figured out how to use the camera.

2. I started doing as the Germans do:

Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 4:50pm UTC+02

I’m having the coolest first week in Germany! The Schulleiterin of the school where I’ll be working picked me up from the train station and housed me for a few days. We cooked, played games, went to the store, picked apples and plums from the trees in her backyard, got ice cream and ate it in the rain. She took me to get registered with the city, get my cell phone, and move into my house. My landlady and housemates are also really nice. I’m already finding my way around and feeling really comfortable. I can tell I’m going to be really happy here. 🙂

3. I learned that the city in which I would live, Buxtehude, is famous throughout Germany as the village in which the story of “der Hase und der Igel” (the hare and the hedghog) takes place.

4. I played tourist in the closest big city, Hamburg, with a former German Fulbrighter and old friend. I saw the largest miniature train set in the world.

5. I missed some of the superficial pleasures of the ‘States.

Monday, August 25, 2014 at 11:57pm UTC+02

Okay if people don’t stop posting about pumpkin spice flavored everything, I’m going to lose my mind. I don’t even know where to find it in Germany. #Ineedmycoffeefix #Thecravingsarereal #Yesthehashtagsarenecessary

6. …and took advantage of some uniquely European delights.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 8:23pm UTC+02

I went for my first jog in Buxtehude today and I didn’t even break a sweat! It was a lovely 65 degrees. Ah summer. 🙂

7. I tried my best to be aware and stay connected to all that was going on in America:

Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 8:55pm UTC+02

I had to wait for a sunny day to do this. 😛 I want to thank Schroeder Decker for nominating me to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and I would like to nominate Jordan Rickman, Kaitlyn Richert, and Candy Wright to do the same. 🙂 #ALS #IceBucketChallenge

8. …while exploring and trying to find my niche in my new home.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 10:46pm UTC+02

A German couple approached me to ask for directions to the train station (Bahnhof). I’ve been in Buxtehude for fewer than 2 weeks, but I didn’t have any problem directing them – and in German! I felt so proud. 😀

Friday, August 29, 2014 at 11:10pm UTC+02

Princess Christine Dickens likes Buxtehude, Malerschule Buxtehude, Kampfsportschule Buxtehude, Joy Fitness Buxtehude, Buxtehuder Tanzschule, C.Veglison and Buxtehuder Sicherheitsdienst OHG.

Sunday, August 31, 2014 at 5:25pm UTC+02

Oktoberfest is coming. They’re selling dirndls here in just about every clothing store and they’re only 25-40€. So tempting.

9. Soon it was time to go to Orientation and I found that I was missing America more than I had expected.

Monday, September 1, 2014 at 8:00am UTC+02

I’m on my way to Cologne for Fulbright orientation! I can’t believe how excited I am to see some of my compatriots after only two weeks in Germany. There’s this little voice inside saying, “Yes! FINALLY someone who will understand my jokes!”

At Orientation I learned how to carry out all my duties as a temporary resident of Germany – how to open a bank account, how to apply for a residence permit, how to complete my enrollment in the university, how to use my German health insurance, etc. I also got to know many of my fellow Fulbrighters and participated in a teacher training workshop.

10. I spent the last week of my summer vacation exploring and trying things I never imagined myself doing. I worked in my garden. I cooked food without any cans or use of the microwave. I went climbing on a “Hochseilgarten” (a suspended ropes course), and developed a taste for… beer!

Saturday, September 6, 2014 at 10:46pm UTC+02

Bitburger is actually pretty good!

11. I got to meet my colleagues and was delighted by the warm reception.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 5:49pm UTC+02

I had my first teacher meeting today! They gave all the newcomers a sunflower. 😀

Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 11:23pm UTC+02

I’ve already been mentioned in the school newsletter (way at the bottom)! My first day of observation is tomorrow!! 😀 http://www.gymnasium-harsefeld.de/index.php/118-news/647-personelle-veraenderungen-am-agg-zum-schuljahresbeginn

12. I discovered the joys and challenges of living with flatmates. (And yes, I shamelessly employ the British term now!)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 11:00pm UTC+02

Okay, I need to take a minute and just say that I AM SO BLESSED to be where I am. I just spent over an hour chatting and laughing (hysterically) with my roommates over Abendbrot and I feel amazing. All 5 of them are so easy to live with, it’s ridiculous. I never imagined that having roommates could be so much fun. 🙂 Now I just have to enjoy/appreciate it before the new one comes in a month. I’m hoping it will be a blessing in disguise. (Eeek!)

13. And then it was time to start working. I would have to commute every day – a combination of bus, train, and walking – 1 hour there and 1.5 hours back! At first I found everything exciting.

Friday, September 12, 2014 at 7:17am UTC+02

I’m on the train that will take me to work and there are so many tiny children around! This is so different from a yellow school bus!

Monday, September 15, 2014 at 8:04am UTC+02

Der Zug faellt aus. My train was canceled! All the kids around me are celebrating. We are all going to be so late and it’s 100% excused.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 12:39pm UTC+02

Feeling so pumped! It’s only Tuesday and I already got to talk about how private gun ownership is deeply rooted in American history AND “The American Dream”. I’m trying to be as objective as possible in my explanations so that the kids don’t think all Americans feel the same way about these topics. It’s so much fun and the kids are really clever. 🙂

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 10:14pm UTC+02

I had my first day of teaching today! Six hours. And because I’m mostly in charge of 8th graders right now, I actually just taught the exact same lesson six times in a row. It was kind of exhausting but still rewarding. I could see some of the kids’ faces light up when I told them they did a good job in explaining a concept in English. I hope I can make all of my kids feel that way by the end of my time with them. 🙂 ❤

14. But I soon found out that middle-school aged children are difficult to manage, especially when you’re 22 and are expected to be the authority figure.

Friday, September 26, 2014 at 2:34pm UTC+02

Well, my first week of teaching concluded with a test of my patience and creativity. After teaching all week with mostly sweet, docile children, my last class of 13-year-olds just wouldn’t pay attention. After a few rounds of “shhhh, listen up, you guys” I finally had to take a moment and very seriously tell them that it’s rude to talk while I’m talking and that they had to work faster in class to finish their worksheet or they would have to finish it for homework. And that got them quiet really fast. 😛 Geez, I didn’t want to seem like the “bad guy” but they have to respect me. And to be honest, I didn’t want them to have homework either.

15. And being stuck in my tiny village without having made any friends, I began to feel a little dispirited. And yet, I never lost my optimism!

Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 11:59pm UTC+02

It’s only been about a month since I got here, and I’ve already fallen into a bit of a funk. -.- My university classes don’t start for another 3 weeks, which means I have to wait 3 more weeks in order to:

-travel for free (out of Buxtehude to a bigger city where there’s actually something to do. And let’s face it, train tickets are expensive)

-take classes and meet new people (…friends?)

-visit my fellow Fulbrighters

The good news is that I’ve found a silver lining in this, namely, that I’m learning more about myself and what I want. I know now that I don’t like living in a small town. 😛 It’s just too boring and lonely. I need some life and energy!

16. But once I got out of the house a little, things started looking up again.

Monday, September 22, 2014 at 4:29pm UTC+02

I’m going to see a French movie in the theater tonight! 🙂 “Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu?” It’ll be dubbed in German, but I’m really excited to see a movie that probably won’t even make it into an American theater. I like French movies.

Sunday, September 28, 2014 at 3:09am UTC+02

Li and I went to a mini Oktoberfest in Hamburg. It was a blast and the beer was the best I’ve ever had. 🙂 Prost!

Monday, September 29, 2014 at 12:12am UTC+02

Eins kann mir keiner nehmen…! 😀

“Eins kann mir keiner nehmen …und das ist die pure Lust am Leben!” (There is one thing that no one can take from me -and that is the pure joy I feel in living!)

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