After spending a lovely few days with Eric and Caitlin (and Caesar and Roman and Athena, the pets that they don’t know I’m going to steal), I took the train from Obermohr to Cologne, Germany. I was arriving a few days before our official orientation, which turned out to be a great decision because Cologne is a beautiful city, and meeting some other teachers ahead of time made orientation a bit smoother when you are meeting 140 people at once.
While in Cologne we climbed to the top of the cathedral (my legs were shaky and sore for two days), took a river cruise along the Rhine, sampled chocolate (over and over) at the chocolate museum, visited ancient ruins at the Roman museum, tasted local beer at a brewery, crashed a pub crawl, and walked 20 minutes every time we needed to go somewhere. Hostel to Cathedral? 20 minutes. Hostel to bar? 20 minutes. Bar to meet other teachers? 20 minutes. Every. Time.
Finally it was time to meet at the train station and take buses out to Maria in der Aue which was so beautiful but so remote: 140 Fulbright teachers with no cell phone service all trying to use one wifi connection = disaster. Some teachers were still trying to secure housing in Germany but couldn’t get a strong enough signal to email potential roommates.
Germany was experiencing a long summer, and we were all crammed into one room in order to learn about life in Germany and how to be an English Teaching Assistant, but when temperatures were regularly reaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit and there were no fans and they don’t believe in air conditioning, it was a sweaty, sticky, humid mess. Fortunately we often broke into our small groups (I was with the technical schools and Norbert, who we all fell madly in love with) and it wasn’t so terrible. There was also one little bar we ran to as soon as our meetings were over, because it closed at like 11 pm and there was nothing else within 5 km of the hotel.
The Fulbright orientation was sweaty, chaotic, informative, wonderful, and gorgeous. Saying auf Wiedersehen to the other teachers, who I felt like I got to know so well right off the bat, was strange. But I know that we will all see each other and visit each other and crash on floors and couches throughout this upcoming year. And they are all welcome to visit me on my “little island” in Hamburg!