Them: And what will you be doing with yourself next year?
Me: I'll be doing research in Germany on a Fulbright Fellowship.
Them: Really! That's awesome! (Subtext: Wow, they're just giving those things out like Dots on Halloween) Do you speak German?
Me: No...not really.
Them: Oh, well they all know English anyway.
Me: Yeah, but I'm trying to listen to some language CDs and I'll be taking an intensive German class in Marburg so hopefully I'll learn how to sprechen Deutsch.
Them: Haha (Subtext: Sure you will, and I'll have my dissertation on Ulysses done by Christmas)
Well, here I am finally in Marburg. It's been a week since I first touched down in Frankfurt and I'm starting to get my life under control. By which I mean, I'm on the grid. I know where all of my classes are, I own a functioning cell phone (or Handy as they're called here), I have reliable internet connections and I walk out to a panoramic view of a medieval town capped by a castle on a hill that looks something like this:
Life is good.
I have begun the process of learning German in the lowest, basic course with other Fulbrighters who share my absent expertise in Deutsch. I'm actually starting to make sense of it ("starting" being the operative word). I'm like a little kid wandering through the streets, "Hey, that sign says 'No smoking here, please.'" "Yes it does Matthew." "And that one says 'Are you tired? Take a break'!" "Yes it does Matthew, but it's time to get out of the street now or you'll get run down by the car." "You mean Das Auto!"
As my year progresses I will hopefully update this page with information on fossils (my area of research), observations about the land of my ancestors (or at least half of them, anyway) and a few self-deprecating stories about my head-on collisions with language barriers.
German Heutewort: billig (adj) - cheap
Ich bin einen billig Student. (I am a cheap student.)