A very close friend of mine recently got curious about a connection between the term “being oriented” and The Orient, as in Asia. It comes from Latin ‘orientem’ for ‘the part of the sky where the sun rises (the east)’. So, ‘to orient’ actually means ‘to arrange facing east’, which is the subject of today’s somewhat overdue blogpost.
From September 6th – 9th I was in Köln (Cologne) for the official Fulbright orientation. Getting to the conference center, located in a cloister/conference center 40 minutes by bus outside of Cologne was an adventure of sorts. I had planned to take the 14:44 train from Bonn to get to the meeting point at the main train station in Cologne by 15:30, but fate was against me. Something had happened on the tracks between Bonn and Cologne (a person may have been on the tracks…hopefully no one died?) so that no trains could travel through Brühl, the town in between. It was already 14:50, so I phoned my friend Sebastian (who is the hero of this story) and after 20 minutes or so we were able to take Maike’s cute yellow car and hit the Autobahn. When we arrived in Cologne it was already far past the meeting time, so I called Andy (a fellow Badger and Fulbrighter) who had already arrived and he informed us that everyone was already waiting on the buses behind the train station. We pulled into the parking lot, saw the three charter buses waiting, and breathed a sigh of relief. As I was lugging my suitcases over, however, the bus started to pull away and the whole slow-motion-epic-“oh shit they’re leaving”-this-should-be-in-a-movie-“nooooooo” thing started. Sebastian, unencumbered by luggage, moved with the speed of Miroslav Klose and yelled at the bus driver in what I had to have been mad crazy bus-stopping German, because the bus stopped (huzzah)! I got on, and was whisked away to the Haus Altenberg along with 140 other American Fulbright recipients.
During orientation I roomed with a girl named Kyra, who was placed in Homberg (Ohm), Hessen as an assistant. A few words about Kyra (pronounced like Keira, as in Miss Knightley): she’s a GINGER! which basically makes her awesome. Actually she’s a bit more like a strawberry-blonger, since the summer sun bleaches her hair like mine. We have a lot in common, but complement each other at the same time. She primarily paints, draws, and sings, while I primarily dance and act, but we both do a bit of all of it. Best of all, she likes to salsa! She’ll be living in Gießen for the 10 months, so I’ll be able to stay at her place on the weekends. I feel incredibly lucky to have her around…she’s a fellow free spirit and I thoroughly enjoy her presence.
The next three days were full of info sessions and practice lessons, accompanied by a lot of fake German accents as we pretended to be English-speaking German middle school/high school students for the sake of our fellow Fulbrighters. My group prepared a lesson for a pretend 10-year-old class focused on adventure stories. We wrote our own short story to read to them, taught them vocabulary and had them create their own stories. At night, part of the cloister was opened as a bar, because it’s obviously impossible to avoid beer when in Germany. Somewhere along the way a video blogpost was made, but you’ll have to be patient for it; my friend Andy is in the process of making a new post on isthisandy, his YouTube account. Definitely check out his vblogs — he’s quite the character!
I could probably add more details, but orientation stuff isn’t as fun as going salsa dancing with Kyra…which I’m 15 minutes late for. So, until next time, be well!