Adventures of a Traveling Ex-Pat Teacher in Europe
INTRODUCTION. I’m a former college teacher, artist, and a confirmed Europhile. Having been invited to teach in Europe in the early seventies, I left the University in Berkeley, California, which is my alma mater, to teach history and sociology on US military bases in Germany, having no idea that my teaching career would keep me living as an Ex-Pat in Europe for the next thirty-five years, with regular annual vacation visits home.
When people learn that I lived in Europe for so long, they usually inquire enviously how I managed do that, and which European country I loved most. So I’d like to answer those questions now. I looked upon myself as an independent scholar with my well-stocked mind and teaching and research experience for rent each year in whatever country I decided I wanted to get to know better.
GERMANY. As a published and experienced teacher and scholar, I got to teach in several different European countries. In Germany I lived and taught in Berlin, Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Bitburg Airbase in the Moselle River area and Freiburg am Breisgau in the Black Forest.
CZECHOSLOVAKIA. I also had the pleasure of living and working in Eastern Central Europe both before and after the Iron Curtain collapsed in 1989. In Prague, I had an apartment in a medieval stone tower overlooking the river, the bridge, and the castle. The main disadvantage was that thee was no way to get a telephone installed in that gorgeous old stone tower. I taught courses on Sociological Theory and on the Social Psychology of Creativity at Charles University there. It was founded in the early thirteenth century, making it the oldest university in Central Europe.
SWITZERLAND. In Switzerland, while I was studying Analytical Psychology at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, I learned that a small American college in Lugano, only a couple of hours away by train, was looking for a part-time Psychology Instructor, so I applied and got the job. My greatest take-away from that experience was my seduction of one of my beautiful students, Kathy C. who later became my wife and lived with me in England, where I taught for almost ten years.
ITALY. But before I discuss my career in England, I want to mention some of my experiences in my favorite European country, Italy. I began my sojourn in Italy without a job, living in Florence, and studying art history while learning Italian, such a beautiful language! Florence is perennially amazing, full of surprises no matter how long you live there. I was very fortunate to find an apartment on a hill overlooking the city and next door to Lord Acton’s stupendous villa and museum-worthy art collection. The food in Florence’s restaurants is fresh and often imaginatively presented. As you can imagine, I gained a kilo while living there.
To support myself I found a job teaching Italian History to American students from Dickinson College in Florence enrolled in their Junior Year Abroad Program. The following year while still living in Florence, I commuted twice a week to Bologna, where I did the same thing for third year students at Johns Hopkins University. I had some great adventures in Florence and Bologna which I intend to reveal in a later blog post.
Before I finish my account of my experiences in Italy I want to narrate that the next year I moved to Rome to take up an exciting opportunity to teach a political science course on Contemporary Italian Politics for the American University in Rome. That fall, before my teaching duties began, I moved from Florence to Rome not only because of my job, but mainly to be near my new Roman girlfriend, Giuliana M., who I had met at an international conference on “Love in Renaissance Italy” held in Naples the preceding spring.
The story of our remarkable love affair and train travels all over Europe will be told in due course. I want to mention now that after falling in love, practically at first sight, to solidify the bonds of our relationship, we spent a long honeymoon-like summer living and lovemaking on the fabled Isle of Capri. I feel so grateful now to have had such memorable experiences.
GREAT BRITAIN. Finally, the last country, where I spent many happy years, is Great Britain whose literature I had devoured passionately ever since high school. I began my European travels in England already in 1954. I got bitten by the travel bug then, after I graduated from high school, when I became an Exchange Student in the Experiment in International Living Program that assigned me to live with a modest English family, the McMillans, in Plymouth in Devon, near Cornwall. I still remember our postal address there which was 3 Tor Close, Hartley, Plymouth, Devon, England, Earth, Our Universe.
I didn’t get my first teaching job in England until 1974. Back in Germany then, I had decided that I really didn’t really like teaching on the US military bases. So I sought to arrange something better for myself for the next year. I sent out a batch of cover letters accompanying my resumé to various universities in the London area and this I soon received an invitation to be a Visiting Scholar in Residence at the famed London School of Economics and Politics, a preponderantly Labour Party oriented division of the University of London, that traced its lineage back to George Bernhard Shaw and the early Fabian Socialists. This gave me some status in the academic world and a nice office to write in, but no income. Fortunately Brunel University in London also responded to my letter. They invited me to teach courses on The History of Social Thought and Comparative Sociology, which I did for several years until I ran into some difficulties with my work permit as a foreigner, after which Brunel let me go. Determined to return to Europe soon, I moved back home to Berkeley to get my ducks in a row.
Before I close this post I’d like to ask any readers who also have lived anywhere abroad for a few years to share your thoughts and your travel experiences with me. I plan to write a memoir detailing my experiences in Europe and in America in the decades of the seventies, eighties, and nineties. Whatever you’d like to share by way of thoughts, feelings, and/or memories would be most welcome.