Montag, 19. Oktober 2009


"Die Stadt Göttingen, berühmt durch ihre Würste und Universität, gehört dem Könige von Hannover, und enthält 999 Feuerstellen, diverse Kirchen, eine Entbindungsanstalt, eine Sternwarte, einen Karzer, eine Bibliothek und einen Ratskeller, wo das Bier sehr gut ist."
("The city of Göttingen, renowned for its sausages and its university, belongs to the king of Hannover and contains 999 fireplaces, diverse churches, one maternity ward, one observatory, one prison, one library, and one town hall cellar, where the beer is quite good.")
-Heinrich Heine, Die Harzreise

My inventory is certainly less extensive than Heine's, and as yet I can't say much about the quality of the beer or sausage, but during my wanderings over the last couple of weeks in the Innenstadt (old city center), I was pleased to discover almost immediately no less than four used book stores. And they seem to have normal hours, unlike the ones in Berlin, most of which seem to be open about three days a week at random times. However, except for the one which is located along the main street, I'm not at all certain that I will be able to find any of them again, because I always seem to get lost in the Innenstadt and I stumbled across most of the used book stores serendipitiously when I had no idea where I was. In addition, I've found at least three tea shops, numerous döner stands, and just about anything else one might need (you know, mundane details like clothes and dishes and shampoo). But as yet no fabric store.

I'm gradually starting to be able to find my way around the uni. The library is beautiful, the student center is crowded. What I miss so far are the random places to curl up and read or study. Most of the library (i.e. the part with the books) is off limits unless you first check your coat and bags. So, there are places to study, but given the casual atmosphere that I'm used to at Norlin, I'm not quite comfortable with this system yet. I imagine within a few months it will start to seem routine.

Classes started last Monday, and everything seemed to fall into place. I'm still very confused about a lot of the details -- what we're doing is the same, but how it's organized is definitely not -- but it's good to be back at work and doing what I came here for! The familiarity is reassuring. I think as far as the university stuff is concerned, I'll be all right, I have the necessary knowledge and techne.

What I lack, however, is everyday experience. Things like: at which stores do I buy what (not always quite as simple as it sounds), how much does (for example) a case of eggs usually cost, what is open on a Sunday and how late, and where does one start when one is looking for, say, a used bicycle? All of a sudden my research skills and my intuitive knowledge about how things are done at home don't help anymore. Some of this stuff I can ask about, the rest I'll probably have to figure out by trial and error. But that's what I'm here for. The everyday stuff, not just the academic experience.

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