Grüße aus Deutschland.

A week ago, I was in New York.

This seems impossible, of course, given the travel that has subsequently followed. Have you ever been on a trip that seems so spiritually distant that years have taken place within the hours that have clocked up? And yet at the same time, I can remember the ride from Brooklyn to Newark, the harrowing press of young children together as they rode to Secaucus, dressed as if they were diving head-first into Coachella. I remember other things too (I’m afraid New York didn’t treat me kindly, as generous and sweet as my hosts were), but that last glimpse of America is especially poignant. Or, at least, emblematic.

But I’m in Schwerin now, the capital of the eastern state of Mecklenberg-Vorpommern, a place that is half-Baltic and half-steeped in the shadow of the GDR. At least, this is what a lot of the guides have told me thus far on all of the tours I’ve been given; this also explains the fact that what little German I remembered from my first year at Cottey is being put to good use at present. (I am, as it goes, pathetically rusty.) But what shines more so is how beautiful this place is – Schwerin is known, from the German saying, as “The City of the Seven Seas,” which is far more poetic than the literal translation. (See, as it turns out, is German for lake.) Water is everywhere; the city center revolves around cathedrals and an actual castle, which is haunted by a ghost named Little Peter. (The German name for this spectre, Petermännchen, is weirdly adorable given that they draw the dude as if he were a gnarly gnome.) I live in an airy room in a beautiful apartment. The food is cheap and, I hear, the beer even cheaper. (Haven’t had the guts to go into a pub yet, though. I told you: mein Detusch ist sehr rough.) It looks like the makings of a very beautiful, if not eventful, month.

As I begin to settle into my routine in Schwerin, I’ll start to give impressions on what it’s like to live here, to work as someone who speaks the dominant language in a… less than satisfactory manner, and what the non-profit gallery system is like in Germany. The latter-most will probably be of largest interest to my audience here, but hey: you’re not here for “Allison’s Crash Course in German” entries. Consider this the first of many posts, in any event, this one being the “ha ha hello, I’m alive” one. That seems to be a good one to start on, at any rate.