Thursday, June 04, 2009

Bachies Finale

This is the University where I work - it is a castle, literally.
Yesterday was the last lecture of the semester for all the Bachelor students at the University of Mannheim and it was glorious. In case you haven't guessed, this was also the last lecture of the first course I co-organized. It was also the first bachelor class to graduate from the University which sounds crazy but you must remember that Germany did not have a bachelor/master degree structure previously so you could only get a diplom. Anyway, I think I was as excited as some of the students to see the course come to a close and anticipate having free time on Wednesdays again so I can focus on my own research. Of course, there are still grades to distribute and exams to administer and correct but the lectures are over.
During this last lecture I was quickly reminded that there is no such thing as a dry campus in Germany and it was odd. First of all, we noticed a few students with sunglases on inside and a couple who brought along a beer. About 10 minutes into the lecture the class got loud and we heard yelling from the hallway then three students entered. These students were dressed rather unusually, kind of Germany's version of white trash - a wife beater, sweat pants and socks with adidas type slides. They were appropriately accessorized with cliche tattoos, a grocery store bag of "stuff" and large cans of beer (5,0 brewed in Braunscherig), one even wore a mullette wig. They stopped in the front of the class and yelled something in a crazy accent then popped their beers and "prosted" the class in unison. At this point we realized there were more drinkers in the class than I thought becasue suddenly they wanted to be part of the toast. The class erupted in laughter and applause, I didn't know how to react. They just intereupted the professor's lecture and loudly drank beer in front of the classroom but it was funny, but I'm her support staff - can I laugh? I was not confused for long, when I looked away from our visitors, I noticed my professor laughing uncontrollably so much so that she stopped lecturing and asked the students if they had an extra beer for her. It was all in good fun and she recognized that. The students climbed over some empty chairs and "ordered" others to move so they could sit in the center of the lecture hall and maintained character throughout. At one point, they showed their appriciation of the professor by yelling (in the crazy accent) at the rest of the students to be quiet or go home so they could listen and when I needed a volunteer Mr. Mullett quickly volunteered one of his wingmen who executed without a problem. The lecture went off without any (other) major distractions and I learned that drinking on cmpus is not terrible. I really have no idea how this would go oveer at URI, I guess it would depend mostly on the professor and his or her sense of humor and respect for the rules. Who knows, maybe URI's days as a dry campus will soon come to an end with the end of Bobby C.'s reign.
Yesterday was also monumental for our department as one of my colleagues became a Doctor, the first one from our department of which she was a founding assistant in 2005. Congratulations Dr. S if you find this!! It was super exciting/emotional for all of us and motivating to me in a way that i can't explain. Every time I am in the atrium of the building in which the theses defense takes place, I see the candidates surronded by family and friends who have come to show their support (and grad students who have come to say congratulations, maybe fantasize and enjoy the refreshments). These occasions make me think of my family coming over to support me on my day. I don't even know if they will be able to but, I hope my parents and my brothers and my aunts and uncles and cousin will be there to see me become a doctore one day (I have a few years). It means so much to me that I've alread put the bug in their ears and mentioned a trip to Rome as a celebration/bribe. One da it will be my turn but there is a lot of hard work and luck standing between me and that day.
In case you were wondering FoKuHiLa (pronounced as foecoheela) is the Geramn word for mullett which I happened to learn ast weekend. The first letter should be the only capital letter but I capitalized the others to point out that it is actually a word play of sorts comprised of (Forna Kurtz, Hinter Lange) which translates to Front short, back long. Proving once again that Germany truely deserves it place as the most low context culture and a common textbook example.