06 October 2008

Fire at Will Again

“I will say goodbye to Germany very soon, but I have a sneaky suspicion that it will not be my final farewell.”

I wrote those words on this blog a little over a year ago, and I could not have been more right. Life has presented me with new targets, and, as always, I am eager and ready to hit my marks.

As of this post, I am reactivating this blog for my second year in Germany. Furthermore, not only do I find myself in this country again, but also in the town that won my affection the first time around—Eichstätt. If sequels can exist in real life, then this coming year must surely count as one. Swaths of German bureaucracy are still keeping me busy, but I will soon post on the other activities that I have undertaken since my arrival on the first of October. New friends have already been made, and old ones seen. One festival has come and gone in Eichstätt, and a slightly larger one by the name of Oktoberfest warmly welcomed me as a visitor. But first, how did this return come to be? How did I find my way back to the Metropolis of the Altmühl? To answer these questions I must provide you with a bit of an epilogue to my first year abroad.

I returned home to America on August 14, 2007, but a part of me remained on the other side of the Atlantic. Life in Germany had taken a strong hold on me, and it would not let go anytime soon. Sometime in September or October, while still lurking about in the depths of Germany withdrawal, I searched for a way to return. One day something sparked a memory and then an idea.

While I was in Eichstätt the first time, there was an American named Chris who was working as an English Teaching Assistant at the university for the year. Perhaps I could hold the same position for a year after I graduated in May. I scanned the university’s website for any information on the TA position but could find nothing. In the end, all it took was the simple act of asking.

I sent a couple emails to employees of the university, individuals whom I had made as contacts in my first year. They replied and informed me that the position’s availability was momentarily in doubt, but that they were pleased that I was interested and would update me on its status as soon as they could. A few weeks later I received word that the position was open and that I could apply. The position’s supervisor instructed me to hurry because apparently she and her colleagues had set the application period to last for only one month. I sent in my documents and emailed a couple geography professors at the university, ones whom I had met and who knew me, and requested that they put in a good word for me. I didn’t know if it could help, but it couldn’t hurt to ask. The university received my documents, and then I waited.

The novelty of my return to Memphis and the stories I brought back after my year abroad began to wear away for my family and friends, but Germany stayed fresh on my mind. I found Paulener Hefeweizen beer in a local grocery store and rejoiced at the discovery of an authentic connection to Bavaria. I turned through the pages of the German cook books I had brought back and tried, often with success but sometimes without, to recreate my favorite German meals and treats. Around Christmas I baked Stollen and prepared some Glühwein for drinking. And on my attempts went. Germany would not leave my mind.

Then early in the new year I received an email from the university. The subject line read simply “TA Position,” and offered no hint to the outcome of my application. I anxiously clicked on the line to open the email. My eyes moved across the lines of text with excitement. I read it twice to be sure. Then, even though I was nearly positive I had read it correctly, turned to an online translation site to ensure beyond a doubt that I had understood the German sentences. Surely you can correctly guess what news the email delivered to me.

Sprint ahead several months to last week and I was again on a plane bound for Munich. A second year in Eichstätt had begun.

In the time approaching my departure, friends and relatives questioned if I would again write on this blog. I honestly could not say if I would or not. After all, sequels rarely live up to the hype of the original. Could a blog for my second year in Eichstätt be as entertaining as the first version? Or, for that matter, could the second year itself be as exciting and worthwhile for me as the first one?

Clearly, the answers I arrived at were yes. I have returned in the capacity of a teacher, not a student, and surely tales worth sharing will originate from my classes. I will travel to new destinations and provide more looks into these locales on the other side of the world. I will venture deeper into my host land. During the first year I lived in Germany and Bavaria, swimming in the inviting waters of their cultures; in the second year I want to submerge myself in them for as long as I can hold my breath, or, better yet, learn to breath underwater. I will continue in my aim to motivate the reader to travel and experience life to the fullest. And, of course, I will remain in touch with friends and family with my posts. The answers for how and why I am in Eichstätt have changed, but the general purposes of Fire at Will—to entertain, to educate, to motivate—have not.

There is also one other major difference between this year and my first. Two years ago I was living in what felt like a pause in that stage of my life. Now, though, I have graduated college and finished that stage. Unlike last time, I do not know exactly what I will do when this year ends; an automatic return home is not certain. Indeed, this year marks the beginning of a new stage in my life, and where it takes me remains to be learned. With this thought in mind, I provide you with the words of Goethe, a well-respected German author of years long passed, to conclude this post. May his words hold some truth as I settle into Germany for a second time.

“Jedem Anfang wohnt eine Zauber drinne…” (In every beginning there lives a little magic…)


Anonymous said...

Yay, I'm so glad you're going to write here!
I bet you are so happy to be in your Germany. I'm real jealous!


Anonymous said...

Fantastic Nichoals!
I was hoping you would share your experiences again. I will spread the word, hopefully you will get lots of feedback. I really liked the quote.


Anonymous said...


Good luck on your new adventure. You are fortunate and wise to carve out an interesting life for yourself.

John Haley

mc said...

Hooray! New posts, new adventures to look forward to! Looking forward to traveling and going on a European journey once again through the words you transcribe on this blog. It is magical!

Nick O. said...

Nata: Yes, it does feel good to be back.

Daddy-O: Thanks for sharing the news with others.

Mr. Haley: Thank you for words of encouragement. I hope you will enjoy the stories to come.

mc: Thanks for the support!