Welcome to my new blog! Following many years of graduate study in musicology (see my bio if you don't know what musicology is), I am finally embarking on my fieldwork portion of my degree, spending one year in Germany. For all the latest updates on Music, Life, and Travel, read on, friends!

Wednesday, August 29

From the other side of the pond...

It seems like a lifetime ago when I was able to watch the palm trees slowly sway from my balcony in beautiful San Diego. As with many places that seem like homes away from home, after arriving in Germany yesterday, I got down to business.

My travel day lasted around 20 hours, and my arrival in Frankfurt was significantly easier this time around because I had good friends waiting for me on the other side of the final customs door! I had originally planned to sleep as much as possible on the flight between Houston and Frankfurt, but it was not meant to be.

Both of my flights went well. As I was taking off from San Diego, I was able to (generally) see the condo complex that B and I live in, and I also had an Economy Plus seat and had plenty of foot room in front of me. I had plenty of time to connect in Houston but spent a decent chunk of time waiting in line to board. With Lufthansa, one does not get boarding groups, but follows a similar model to Southwest, with passengers waiting to get on based on row numbers.

The greatest part of the travel experience was flying on one of the new Airbus 380 planes! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, one of the largest planes in the world! It has two complete levels, shiny new interiors, and three cameras placed on the outside of the plane that passengers can watch during the flight! With all of the plane features and movie choices, I guess I’m not too surprised that I didn’t sleep much. During take-off I was convinced that we weren’t going fast enough to actually become airborne, but obviously it worked out.

After a nice afternoon in Wiesbaden, I took a train to Bonn and moved into the hotel room I will call home until September 12th. One of my BuKa friends accompanied me to see an apartment in the center of town, which went well even though I didn’t get that place, nor was I thinking it was the apartment for me.

Hotel Acora, in Bonn-Tannenbusch
I am cultivating an interesting schedule of getting up at 6 am each morning so that I spend a decent amount of time talking to B during his nights. Yesterday the early wake-up call also allowed me to get going to accomplish some of the bureaucratic responsibilities that come with living in a new country. I registered with the city, opened a bank account, and visited two more apartments. I actually got the one I wanted! I will share more details about the place at a later date, once I move in and can take pictures. But, for all of you planning on visiting me, I am renting two rooms, a bedroom and work/living room, so all are invited to sleep in my guestroom!!

Last night some of the BuKas went to an amazing Spanish restaurant that featured a lot of seafood. I am not the biggest seafood eater, having grown up in the Midwest, far from any salty bodies of water. I still tried a lot of things, including shrimp with heads and legs still intact (see below), and little octopi about one inch long. They were very chewy, to say the least.

Seafood, or Meeresfruechte, in Germany, complete with animal heads!

The rest of this week will be devoted to working on my German-language presentation on my fellowship project. We’ll see how that goes! Right now I just want a coffee or to take a nap!

I've posted a few more pictures on my shutterfly page, too!

Bis sp├Ąter!

Tuesday, August 21

And we're off!

Many of you know that I love all things German. I lived in Austria for a semester during undergrad, spent one year in Freiburg, Germany, and have traveled to Europe off and on since 2000, staying with many lovely families and seeing many of the highlights the continent has to offer.

Just one of the many delicious German meals from this summer, in Cologne.
Well, it is that time again; I am leaving for another year-long adventure, this time as part of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation's German Chancellor Fellowship Program. I will be based in Bonn, Germany's former capital, and I will be accessing the extensive rail network of the country as I attend concerts and visit with those involved in the arts sector, all as part of my dissertation fieldwork in the field of musicology.

This is the second time I am not beginning the school year with all my friends and colleagues since I began kindergarten (in the stone age, i.e. the 1980s!). The first time was similar to this year's experience; my stay in Freiburg was compliments of a Fulbright grant. I won't be taking courses as part of my study abroad, and, if I were, I would still be looking forward to another two months of summer vacation! Instead, I will be spending my August days in Bonn looking for housing for the year. Then I will meet up with the other 27 BuKas (that's what we call ourselves, the 30 or so fellowship recipients from the USA, Russia, and China), and we will participate in a month-long orientation, filled with governmental visits and briefings, museum tours, and city tours, all with a bit of fun mixed in.

After a summer filled with moving from Illinois to California and a three-week European trip, ready or not, I am moving to Germany for a year. On this blog, you can expect a mixture of music, life, and travel, and all related to what is currently going on across the pond. For more photos than the ones I post here, visit my shutterfly site. For up-to-the-minute updates, follow me on twitter @rgholley.