I’ve had some requests from people to hear about what a typical schedule is like for me. The short answer is that there IS no typical day, which is actually one reason that I haven’t been blogging more. It seems there are 2 speeds to the unpredictability: speed 1 is “don’t leave the house all day due to work and/or laziness,” and speed 2 is “run around all day doing various things, quickly getting worn out.” But the past few days have been pretty eventful, so I won’t promise that they are “typical” of my life, but they do include many of the activities that I may do on a weekly basis.
On Tuesday, I had my first interview with a reservoir manager at the LTV (state reservoir agency). The interview originally conflicted with my appointment at the Bürgeramt where I hoped to finally pick up my residency permit, which would allow me to stay in Germany until August (always good!), so I told the interviewee I would come to his office after my appointment. My appointment was at 1:30, so I spent the morning preparing for the interview later that afternoon. Once I printed out my interview questions, I grabbed my paperwork for the Bürgeramt and headed for the tram.
About 1 stop from the office, I decided to peruse my paperwork and realized that I should have brought my passport — which was back at my apartment! I called the office on the way back, letting them know that I’d be late… but drastically underestimating the time I’d need to retrieve the passport and return to the office. I finally turned up about half an hour late and was promptly told that I was missing a document I’d need from my landlord verifying that I’m allowed to live in my apartment….
But I didn’t have time to worry about that, because I needed to make my way across town to the LTV office! I had decided to dress up for my first interview, so I was wearing slacks and heels. 3 problems: it was raining, so the bottoms of my pants legs got incredibly wet on the way; it was really cold, and dress slacks are not very warm; and heels are actually terrible for walking between buses and offices. I probably lost a total of an hour because of the heels, between walking slower than necessary for comfort’s sake and narrowly missing my bus on the way home because I couldn’t run to catch it!
The interview went really, really well. I enjoyed it a lot, and it was not as difficult as I had thought to conduct an interview in German! It’s mostly listening when you’re not the one being interviewed, anyway! I was greatly assisted by the voice recorder I was able to borrow from the library. I’ll have fun tomorrow transcribing the 1.5 hours of raw interview recordings I’ve accumulated this week!
I was exhausted after the 5-hour ordeal all of this ended up being… my feet were wet and freezing cold, and my plight with public transport had worn at my nerves, especially after I missed the bus on the way home, and I did really not want to cook dinner, so I met up with Felicitas, grabbed dinner, and caught up with her a little bit.
On Wednesday, I have Spanish class at 11:10, so I headed there after looking over my notes from the previous week. We learned the ordinal numbers, on our way to being able to formulate a plan for our week! I really enjoy that class. My professor is really enthusiastic… this week we actually got to formulate questions to ask him in Spanish, and we learned that his wife is German, he has lived here since 2001, and he has never formally studied German! The class is very interactive, which is nice considering that my other classes are either lectures or seminars (which, because they’re in German, means they might as well be lectures for me… they move too quickly for me to participate much!)
My Spanish class is right near two big libraries, one of which has a Mensa (dining hall) in it, so normally after class I head to the Mensa, eat lunch, and then spend about an hour and a half catching up on work in the library. Luckily, there’s a bus stop right outside the door, so I can take the bus a few stops to my next class at 2:50: Applied Limnology.
Limnology is the ecological studies of water bodies (normally lakes), and this class is pretty interesting if a little too scientific for me. Also, the professor is a bit of a flake… 2 classes so far have been cancelled, 2 have been given by guest lecturers because our professor couldn’t be there, and the very first class of the semester only lasted 10 minutes because he was double-booked. What? How do you double-book yourself the day of your first lecture… when you are the lecturer??
Anyway, it’s normally almost dark when that class ends at 4:20, so I head home. This week, I relaxed by catching up on some of my shows before doing a little bit more work on my outline. Then, I headed into town because I was meeting some friends at the City Theater for a play! We had gotten tickets at a really good price, and it was fun to experience some culture and see the gorgeous theater, which I had never visited before. The play itself, Emilia Galotti by Lessing, was… interesting. I didn’t know the story (I don’t think I’ve ever read any Lessing) so I was trying my very best to follow it… to this production’s credit, it seems like the source material is a little bit sick in the first place, but the staging was very modern and in some cases a little bit disturbing. Nevertheless, it was a fun evening with friends that I had to cut short by rushing home, because I had to wake up bright and early on Thursday for yet another interview!
Thursday morning, I had an appointment with Christian Korndörfer, the department chair of the Environmental Department in Dresden. He’s very well-known and important here, and I was only able to get an interview with him because my host dad knows him, so he was able to get me his cell phone number and tell him a little about me so he wouldn’t screen my call! I got there a little early because of a misunderstanding, but in the end the interview went very well! I’m starting to get the hang of it… hopefully I’ll be able to line some more up in the next few weeks!
After the interview ended, I decided to head to my landlord’s office to see if I could resolve the issue with my residency permit. The office is kind of far, but I’m glad I decided to go… I had already set up an appointment for myself on Friday to finally pick up my permit, and I needed the signed agreement before then! In the end, I walked away with a form that myself, my roommate, and the landlord need to sign… so I needed to return on Friday to get the last signature from the landlord before heading to my appointment!
I just barely had time to run home and take a shower before meeting some friends at the Mensa for lunch. I ate quickly so I could afford to head to the copy shop before class to print out the readings… it’s much easier to follow class discussions in my geography seminar if I had the articles in front of me. In class, we discussed catastrophe management strategies, specifically using the example of earthquakes in California. One of the readings was an excerpt from a book, originally written in English, called “The Ecology of Fear,” which sounds really interesting… I might have to pick it up at some point.
After class, I dropped by my apartment to pick up my computer before heading into town to meet Felicitas. She found a café right near the Kreuzkirche, near the main square, that has all glass walls and free internet… somewhere you can get work done while actually remembering that you’re in a beautiful German city! Clearly the best use of my time right now is writing this blog post instead of improving my outline…. but I’ve made a lot of progress so far! The structure of each chapter is really coming together. I’m getting ready to head to my final class of the week, which is regrettably from 6:30-8 on Thursday evenings…
Tomorrow, I’ll get a nice, early start… I’ll need the best train connections I can get to be able to make it to the landlord’s office and get to my Bürgeramt appointment on time! With any luck, I’ll be the owner of a brand-new Aufenhaltserlebnis before noon tomorrow.