Wintberlin, Springberlin, Snowberlin
After a winter term without much snow accumulation, we've finally had a proper snowstorm in Oberlin - just in time for the first day of spring semester! I've already heard some grumbling about the weather, but at the risk of sounding like a crotchety old person, I had to walk a mile to my high school, often in the rain, sleet, or snow, so at this point, walking through the white stuff for a block or two doesn't seem worth complaining about. In fact, while Oberlin was in the middle of the polar vortex last winter, Europe as a whole hardly got any snow and I actually missed it. Even as a 22-year-old, snow has retained the magic it held for me as a kid. Looking outside and seeing flakes falling, zipping up my down jacket over a sweater, trudging across campus in my big winter boots, even coming inside, laying my gloves on the radiator, and making a warm drink - all of these things bring a smile to my face and take me back to my childhood. But even if wintry weather doesn't give you the same sort of warm fuzzies it gives me, you can't deny that Oberlin looks beautiful under a blanket of snow.
I could probably devote an entire post to the wonders of Snowberlin, but I have more important things to write about, namely winter term and the beginning of spring semester. Although I haven't turned in my annotated bibliography yet, I'm calling winter term a success. I read seven books, five of which were related to my project in some way, plus sections of at least seven additional books and a fair amount of articles on JSTOR. Additionally I have a huge google doc full of notes on sources I've read and a list of sources to check out, plus a doc for my more formal bibliography.
The works I did definitely falls under the category of preliminary research because I didn't go into it looking for the answers to any particular questions. Instead I tried to gather some background knowledge on exile studies, German poetry in the 20th century, and German exile literature so I could figure out which questions I'd like to ask in my capstone. In the process I learned that I'm interested in almost everything to do with German exile literature. Rather than just coming up with one or two questions, I've come up with maybe ten. That's obviously a great thing, I wouldn't want to write my capstone on a subject I don't care about, but I need to narrow my focus a bit. Now that I've gotten the more general reading out of the way, I'm hoping that focus will come in the next week or two.
In an ideal world, I'd also start writing my capstone in the next week or two. I think that synthesizing my bulleted notes into full sentences might help me figure out where I'd like to go with my further research. Unfortunately this might be an overly optimistic plan of action considering my spring schedule. Just like last semester I'm singing with Nothing But Treble and Collegium Musicum and working as a tour guide and a German tutor. I'm taking two full courses and a half course: the Advanced Translation Workshop, the German department's senior seminar on literary and film culture in East Germany, and the German Writer-in-Residence. I also got off the OSCA wait list and as of Saturday I'm an official member of Old B. Long story short, I'm going to be busy this semester. Probably not that much busier than usual since I've somehow ended up with a four day weekend, but busy nonetheless. That being said, I'm so much more optimistic for the semester to come than I was in September. Instead of feeling scared, anxious, and lonely I feel energized and ready to do my work. I imagine that will make quite the difference.
Relatedly, I'd like to thank everyone for responding to On Getting Help and Talking About It with such generosity and candor. In my three and a half years of blogging for Oberlin I've found that my most personal, honest posts garner the most personal, honest responses and my last post was no exception. I really hope the conversations my post started or contributed to can continue into the spring and that any Obies reading this have had a great first day!