Sunday, June 27, 2010

Home sweet future home

In the last two weeks I've gotten some great news. The first thing that happened is a friend put me in touch with a relative who is church-planting with his wife in Dresden. He got me in touch with another researcher at the Technische Universitaet in Dresden, where I will be matriculating as a student in the fall. This means that when I move to Dresden in late September, I will know three English-speakers already, who will be able to help me with school/residency paperwork and with finding a church. They will also help make the transition less lonely.

The second good thing that happened is that I found a place to live. I wasn't having much luck with the students looking for another roommate, since I am not planning to stay in Dresden for a whole year, so I posted a want ad for a furnished room near the state archive, the German Hygiene Museum, or the university (all in the center of town). A few days later, an artist contacted me with an offer to take the extra bedroom in the apartment she shares with her 5-year-old daughter.

You can see what will be my room in the first photograph. That's her artwork on the walls. She also sent me some photos of the neighborhood, known as Koernerplatz, which you can see on the left.

It's not quite the part of town I was hoping to be in, but it's right on the other side of the Elbe River, and the area certainly looks nice. This river meadow is within easy walking distance.

During my trip I'll try to post some fun post with pictures every week. Until then, I'm still reading all sorts of interesting things about nutrition in the early twentieth century. Just yesterday I came across before and after photos from a tummy tuck--in 1912!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The formal announcement

Dear Friends and Family,

I am using this space to make a formal announcement about my travel and research plans for the 2010-2011 academic year. Friday I took Step 1, the first of 3.5 medical licensing exams, and am officially finished with half of the Medical Degree. I will now return to being a history graduate student until the PhD is complete, in 2-3 (4?) years. My project, "The Politics of the Table: Nutrition and the Volkskörper in Saxon Germany, 1900-1933," combines the history of nutrition in public health campaigns, history of "the (human) body," and the social/political relationship between individual Germans and the whole German body (the Volkskörper). This means I get to use all sorts of cool primary sources, like textbooks and nutrition journals, handbooks for mothers, and cookbooks!

The only reason I have been sorry to be in medical school is that I love my dissertation project. In fact, other people thought it was awesome, too, and I was lucky to be offered all of the "big three" research awards for Germanists: a Fulbright, a Deutsche Akademische Austausch Dienst grant, and a German Studies Association Berlin Fellowship at the Freie Universität in Berlin. I chose the DAAD, basically the German equivalent of the Fulbright, which will fund my trip from 1 October 2010 to 31 July 2011. I will actually be leaving the US in mid-September for the European Association of Museums for the History of Medical Sciences (EAMHMS) conference in Copenhagen, where I hope to meet a bunch of European historians interested in similar things. Then I will move to Dresden, where I will live for probably 6 months, before moving on to other archives. After this "research year" comes the "writing year(s)," which will take place at home in Champaign-Urbana.

Now you are wondering, is Dear Husband (DH) going with you? The short answer is "no," and the long answer involves his multiple part-time jobs, piano students, a house with a mortgage, and an aging cat who doesn't travel well. Although I will not be back in C-U for 10.5 months, he is already planning two trips to visit (once in November and once in March). And we will meet in Baltimore in January for my younger brother's wedding. Of the dozen years we have been together, it will be our sixth year of long-distance relationship. Though we do not prefer to live apart, we know our relationship is strong enough to withstand the distance. And the advent of Skype is going to make it less difficult than previous separations!

I have jokingly asked various church members to "take care of him" while I'm gone, but we will both need your love and support. I will still check facebook (less often while I'm researching!), and I am going to try very hard to update this space once a week with photos and stories of my travels and research. I hope you'll tell me what I'm missing in your lives, too. The easiest ways to contact me while I'm gone will be electronic (here, fb, email), but if you feel the need to send a letter or care package, DH will know my mailing address. ;-)

This fabulous adventure is still three months away, so I will probably make few updates to this space in the interim. However, I hope you will check back in the fall to see how things are going.

With love,
From Champaign