Tourist Info Desk

Welcome to Fernweh, a blog concerning the (mis)adventures of one Fulbrighter during a year spent in Europe teaching English.
If you'd like to know what's going on, please see the welcome message here.
If you're wondering what the book reviews are about, I direct your attention to the reading list/classic lit challenge here.
Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to hearing from you!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Book: Uncle Tom's Cabin

Author: Harriet Beecher Stowe
First published: 1852, United States
Original Language: English
Topics: Slavery, human rights, Christianity, racism

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

There's no place like...?

In Latin class today, I got a text message from my mother saying that I had received a letter from Germany. Naturally, I sat in class calmly bolted for the door and called her straightaway.

We immediately hit a barrier: The letter was from the PAD, from Germany, and was therefore in...yep, German. And except for "Volkswagen" and "bitte", my mother doesn't speak a word of German. We managed to work out that I have been placed in the state of Thüringen, which is in central eastern Germany (Wikipedia article here); it's the bright yellow one right smack in the middle of the map I've conveniently provided. :). Thüringen is just north of Bavaria and just east of Hesse, which is great for me because that means I'll (hopefully) be a reasonable distance from Marburg and can visit friends there.

Of course, given the language barrier, I still don't know where in Thüringen I've been placed. My mother is mailing the documents to me today, which means I'll hopefully have them by tomorrow and will have a have a better idea of where I'm going to spend the next year of my life.

Although I still don't have a solid answer, it's most definitely within reach. The waiting was really starting to grate on me--knowing I was going somewhere but not where, depending on the processes of a bureaucracy (albeit a German bureaucracy) to dictate my future. What a relief it is to have a positive answer, no matter what it is.

More information is forthcoming. Now I've gone from waiting on the PAD to waiting on the USPS...

[UPDATE: I did receive the letter the next day, and found out that...well, I've been placed in Thüringen. The PAD has forwarded my information on to Thüringen, and they will contact me at some point in the future (June-ish) with more information. Sigh...]

Friday, April 23, 2010

Reading List

My time as a Fulbright ETA begins in September. That means I have about four months to prepare, at least two of which will hopefully be spent traveling. In the time I have, I will be reading furiously to supplement my pathetically deficient literary education, keeping an eye out for and actively seeking articles, games, materials and ideas that will be useful in teaching English through culture, and working on maintaining and improving my German skills.

To further this process, the following reading list has been composed. By no means comprehensive, this list represents the suggestions of others and my own ambitions, and will change and grow accordingly. I have no delusions about completing this list in the next few months, or in my lifetime, for that matter; but this will be the beginning, at least, of an expedition into the wild.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


There is a volcano there that does not sleep...
Picture from here.

I can't help but be slightly worried about the situation with transatlantic and trans-European flights at the moment. According to the Wikipedia article and various news outlets, the amount that the volcano is spewing is decreasing, but that's no guarantee that it will stop, or won't start up again even if it does.

What just astounds me is how quickly and utterly the machinations and methods of the modern world can come crashing down into ruin because of one erupting volcano. Despite the hold that humanity has on the planet, we still can't stop or predict the eruption of this one volcano, or prevent the spreading ash from stranding millions of passengers and bringing air traffic across Europe and the Atlantic to a screeching halt.

I very much hope that all of this will be cleared up by the time I want to fly into Europe, but either way, there's no way to make plans at the moment; the airlines are too busy trying to sort the mess that they have on their hands already. I hope that everything gets figured out eventually, though, for the sake of the airlines, the stranded passengers, and myself--I mean, that's a really long boat ride. :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Herzlich Willkommen!

My name is Jennifer, and I've recently received a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship to Germany. I wanted to document this experience, as much for my own edification and enjoyment as for anyone else who cares to tune in.

I've currently finished all the necessary paperwork up until this point and am simply waiting now for a placement from the Pädagogischer Austauschdient (PAD). In the meantime, I'll be working on improving my conversational German and compiling resources for my future classroom. I also plan to leave 1-2 months early and travel in Europe during the summer before meeting up with the rest of the Fulbrighters for an orientation in September.

I'll do my best to update consistently, at least when I have something interesting to describe or report. This may include interesting articles or links that might be useful in the classroom, book recommendations or summaries, and relevant current news or events in Germany or Europe.

Also bis bald--