Well we're over halfway through the summer now. I'm a little sad about this, summer's always go to quickly for me. My thoughts are turning more and more to preparing for my big adventure in the fall and it has occured to me that I haven't posted all that much about what exactly I'll be doing. So, here we go...
I have been awarded a PÄdagogischer Austauschdienst (PAD) Teaching Assistantship Fulbright grant. Most Fulbright grants are for reasearch, but this one is a little different as it involves working as an assistant teachign and is actually run though a German program, PAD, which recruits teaching assistants from the US, the UK, and France to assist with forigne language instruction in German high schools. As a part of the application process I did have to come up with some reasearch project to work on in addition to the student teaching while I'm there, but as I understand it none, or very few, of the Teaching Asistants (TAs) actually follow through on their reseach projects and Fulbright doesn't ever check up on you or require you to produce anything. Interestingly, they don't require reseach grant recipients to produce anything either. I guess they figure if you are motivated enough to apply and recieve a grant then you can do whatever you want.
So I found out that I recieved the grant somtime in March, and then several weeks later I found out that I had been placed in the state of Bavaria. Bavaria is down in southeastern germany on the border with Austria. It was part of the American sector after WW2. Bavarian culture is what most americans would associate with typical German stereotypes, it is the home of Oktoberfest, Lederhosen, Neuschwanstein, and Weisenbier. The people are supposed to be warmer and friendlier than the northern Germans I was perpetually complaining about last year, and they speak in a different dialect which I will probably have great difficulty undersanding, but Hochdeutsch (High German) is what they use in schools, so I should be ok.
So anyway, it wasn't until after I was home for the summer that I found out where exactly I would be. Finally the Bavarian Kulturminister sent me a packet of information and my school assignment. I have been placed at two schools just outside of Munich. This is a really really great assignment. Munich is one of the largest cities in Germany and probably the most popular tourist destination, partially because of Oktoberfest. That means that there is going to be tons and tons of stuff to do and people to meet and places to see. And there is a metro system. It is also great because there is a large university in Munich which means I can take classes while I'm there, and it means that there is a large student culture and lots of people my age. I am pretty lucky. TAs are placed all over Germany, including lots of itty bitty towns in East Germany. This girl kept a blog of her experience is just such a town, it's great reading! Being in a tiny town would have been a good experience in many ways as well, but being in Munich is going to be really exciting and I think it will give me a lot more oportunities while i'm there.
There are, of course, some drawbacks to living in sich a desireable area, maily cost. Rent, food, and just about everything else is considerable more expensive in Munich than it is in other parts of Germany. With my grant I will be recieving about 715 euros a month, that works out to about $900. That will have to pay for my rent, food, everything. The only thing Fulbright pays for is the plane ticket to get there. So, needless to say I'm going to be learning a lot about budgeting! Where am I going to live, you may ask? I'm not entirely sure. As I wrote in my earlier very frustrated Blog, I did finally hear back from the woman in charge of international housing at the university. I did e-mail her the forms and she responded to say I had been put on a list for housing. I don't know if this means that I will deffinitly get student housing or not. If I don't then I will probably just have to go and stay in a hostle until I can find something while I'm there. It's pretty difficult to go apartment hunting from another continent.
And what exactly am I going to be doing over there? Well, I'll start at the begining. I'm leaving Minneapolis on Sept 2. I'm planning to go to Muenster for a few days to visit Frau Henzelt and Silke there. Then I have to be in Cologne at the traim station on Sept 8th at 9am to meet the other future TAs for our orientation. The orientation is a few days long and after that we disperse to our assigned cities and schools. TAs are expected to work no more than 12 hrs a week. Since I'm at two schools it will be about 6hrs at each. I will be in charge of leading small discussion groups withthe students. I will come up with some of my own topics related to American culture to discuss with them and help them with their English vocabulary and pronunciation. And the time I dont' spend in the schools... well, I can do anything I want to. I plan on taking a few classes at the university. I also discovered a masters synchro team in Munich and will hopefully practice with them. Planning lessons will take up a chunk of time as well. I plan to travel as much as my budget and schedule will alow. And hopefully I'll have time to experience all of the culture in Munich, museums, achitecture, nightlife, beer! I'm pretty excited about being there for Oktoberfest. I know that it's become more of a huge tourist attraction than anything, but I'm still looking forward to experiencing it.
So, that's just about everything that I know about the upcoming year. I still have lots of stuff to get together and be prepared for before I leave. I want to be more organized and prepared before I go this time, I was a bit of a mess before leaving for Muenster. So I'm working on collecting the items that I will need, thinking of potential lesson plans and classroom materials, and making personal goals for myself for the next year.
I'm going to Europe! I'm so thrilled to have this oportunity. Life just gets better and better :)