Spring "break" is here!

Mar 14, 10:00 AM

The last couple months have been a blur. I’m teaching a lecture course, Western Thought to 1500, that I haven’t done since 2007. That has required refreshing myself on the material and updating some of the lectures and assignments. My other course is a small seminar for grad students and honors undergraduates on witchcraft, magic, and science in medieval and early modern Europe. That’s fun but does require going over assigned readings carefully and responding to students’ work.

Then there were the job searches—we had two searches in my department, and while I wasn’t on either committee, I had to meet the candidates, go to their talks, and participate in the department discussions and votes. And for my sins, I’m on a committee this year for a faculty position in German Studies; though I didn’t attend the MLA convention for first-round interviews, I attended the finalists’ sample classes (each taught one class in an Intermediate Advanced German course), went to their talks, and went to dinner with them.

Add to that the work on the college’s personnel committee, Faculty Senate, Research Library Council, and a few other things, plus the writing that I’ve been cramming into spare minutes here and there, and you’ll understand why I am happy that our spring break has arrived.

So what am I doing? Jetting off to Berlin, where my wife and I have booked a flat. I have a conference there, and before that starts, I’ll be spending some time each day writing and then going to see how the city has changed in the twelve years since my last visit. And of course immersing myself again in Berlin café culture, even though the best part of it, sitting in a garden along one of the city’s many canals, might not yet be an option.

I have been keeping up my running, and doing some stationary cycling (though not as much as I had planned). And just this week, I have gotten back on the bike outside, commuting to work on Wednesday and Thursday and then taking a 20-mile ride up to Leverett yesterday. I might rent a bike for a ride or two in Berlin, and I’ll definitely be running there. It will be slightly warmer there than at home, with highs in the 50’s (Fahrenheit) and lows above freezing most of the time.

I’ll be taking some students’ papers with me, and of course my writing projects, so this really isn’t a break. But it will be a break in the routine. Wenn nur mein gesprochenes Deutsch ein bisschen besser wäre…. (And I’m still unconvinced about the latest spelling reforms that turned “daß” and “bißchen” into “dass” and “bisschen.”)

Brian W. Ogilvie

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