Tomorrow morning I leave for Germany, to teach the fall semester at the University of Leipzig. My next posts will be from there.
The last few days have thus been a whirlwind of preparation and questions. Do I really have the assigned readings in the right order? Will Red Mars be too difficult for students who have English as a second language? Do German professors call students by their first names, like Americans, or their last, like Brits, or with "Fraulein" and "Herr"? Is there a German equivalent of "Ms."? Do German teachers dress up to conduct class? Should I bring a scissors? What should go in my carry-on, in case all my checked luggage mysteriously disappears? What if no one meets me at the airport? What will my apartment be like? Can I get the BBC or CNN on the TV that I've been told is in the apartment, so I can follow the election news and the daily financial crises? What else is or isn't in the apartment besides a TV? Is there wireless?
The last time I lived abroad for a period of many months, I was 21. It was different then. Throw a suitcase worth of jeans and sweatshirts into the handiest suitcase, and you're off. Not so now. Undoubtedly all these questions will be answered, and undoubtedly I can live with whatever the answers are. After all, I can now say, "The check, please" in four languages. What else could I need?