Friday, September 13, 2013

Anniversary musings

It's been a year since I arrived in Germany!

(That's a lie, September 10 actually marked a year. But acknowledging the fact isn't nearly so pithy.)

I'm not teaching this year, though I will be teaching for the next three before spending a final year finishing my thesis. If all goes well. Instead I'm getting a handle on the aforementioned theory - I even read an understandable essay today, which makes Susan Bordo my new favorite person! And I'm learning my way around an enormous campus. My undergrad institution was south of 1500 people. You could walk across the campus in ten minutes. Now? There's a bus that takes students from the center of campus to their dorms. I wish I was kidding.

I get lost whenever I try to find a new place and realize it's in the opposite direction. Then, because I'm convinced the world is paying attention to the stupid things I do, I pretend to get a phone call and tell someone I'm "really close, be right there!" before changing directions.

Kidding. I only did that once.

Yesterday I had a meeting at a totally new building in the north section of campus. Everything else I do is in the south section of campus. Uncharted territory up there. Here be monsters.

So I looked at a map several times throughout the day and repeated the instructions to myself like a mantra. Those instructions? Leave the building where I had class, turn left, turn left, turn left, and walk a while. Impossible to get lost.

I left-left-lefted and walked across the river, so I knew I was headed the right way. All I needed to to was hit a main road and my destination would be right there. But then suddenly the street I was following turned sharply right. There was a sidewalk that continued going straight and some buildings over there, but I didn't see any busy road. And the street was turning on me! The map hadn't indicated that. Probably. This was not the first time I wished the university would put up maps of campus at strategic locations, like you find in downtown London. Highly useful.

My brave choice was to keep going straight, following the sidewalk instead of the street. Big mistake. After wandering between several buildings which were not the buildings I was looking for, I returned to the street, followed its curve, and a block later found myself standing right outside the correct place. The streets know what's what.

Also? I saw a rainbow! It was raining as I got lost and then the rain stopped and right in front of me was this huge arc of color. It was beautiful. I found my way around a city in Europe, right? When I first arrived I thought I'd be lost forever and only ever get around with a map. I'd be a perpetual tourist, the horror! I can totally manage a campus, even if the campus feels like it's just as big and with 1/3 the population. Which, when you're comparing cities to universities? 1/3 the population is still a disproportionately high number of people.

I can only hope that rainbows will keep appearing to cheer me up whenever I get lost. Because leprechauns are following me or something. I wouldn't argue.

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