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 So Long, Athens 

Submitted by Carlo Becker on Fri, 05/09/2014 - 15:00

So this is it. The first half of our BA+ experience has come to an end, the spring semester is over. As excited as I am for the things to come in the summer, I wish I didn't have to say goodbye to my roommates and friends yet. But of course, it wouldn't have been easier two or three weeks later. What makes this time so weird, so incomparable to my experience in Leipzig, is that here, so many (thankfully not all) people I've met and spent time with have left on one single weekend.

Most of them graduated on Saturday, May 3. A very emotional ceremony, national anthem, commencement speech and all, held at the huge Convocation Center that has more than 13,000 seats. Filled with moms and dads, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, other relatives, and friends of about 4,000 graduates. Usually, I'm not a person for that kind of sentimental event, but this one really made me feel happy and proud of my friends, glad that I met them, thankful that I could spend the semester with them, sad that this ceremony meant that it all was over now. And then on the following Sunday, after one last night on Court Street and one last brunch at Casa, we had to say goodbye. Some goodbyes were most likely final, but I might meet a few people again in the summer if they manage to visit me in Iowa.






Cedar Falls, Iowa, will be my base for the summer. I got accepted for an editing and publishing internship at the North American Review, the oldest literary magazine of the U.S. Founded in Boston in 1815, the quarterly has been published by the University of Northern Iowa since 1968. And while I would not have expected to go to Iowa for the summer, I am now very excited to go there. First of all, in terms of my professional interests, this internship is just great. Not only since my OU class on editing and publishing have I been interested in this field, but I've come to consider literary magazines much more than before, both online and in print. I think they are much more prominent in the U.S. than in Germany, so it's great to have this chance to learn about and participate in magazine editing and publishing. On top of the internship itself, I can also take a class on the history of the NAR. The associate editor that I've been in contact with for the last weeks is also an English professor at UNI, and he'll teach a summer class that I'll gladly join. And, number three, he told me that there's also a book project that I can help realize. I think it'll be on Walt Whitman's contributions to the NAR. So I'll probably also have a peek into book editing and publishing, and I might learn a bit about important aspects of 19th century American literature. Pretty good package. 

Of course, Iowa is not California. But as I've read on one website, 'the Plains are not flat.' Yes, Iowa has lots of corn fields, and its most populous city, the state capital Des Moines, has only about 206,000 citizens (2012 estimate). But what I've seen of Cedar Falls looked pretty nice, and I'll also have time to do some road trips, maybe to the Western hilly part of the state, and definitely to Denver where I want to hike the Rockies a bit with two friends from Athens who'll live and work in Denver for the summer. And states like Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, are also not too far away (in U.S. terms). 

I have two more days in Athens where I currently sleep on two friends' couch and help out a little in another friend's garden. Aside from that, I have finally seen some more beautiful nature around Athens at Lake Hope State Park and Strouds Run State Park. I think that the week and a half I've had here not living in my house, without my roommates, and without the college life that had become a routine, has helped me to...acclimatize. Studying in Athens means living in a bubble that is strangely different from 'reality' in many ways. Accordingly, there had to be an end to that. Saying goodbye is not easy, but it is okay.












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