Hi everyone! Before start with this week's questions, I just wanted to let you know that my experience with Fulbright is for the English Teaching Assistantship in Germany. If you have the research grant, or an ETA in any other country, I can't make any promises that your experiences will be similar.
"How helpful is the orientation?"
I have to give the orientation two thumbs up. To be honest, the teaching preparation you get from your 3 day orientation will probably not be terribly useful in the end, but there are some other good things that come from orientation. The first one I already mentioned last week. You will get to meet all the other ETAs in Germany and you will be spending most of the time at orientation getting to know the people placed near you very closely. This is probably the best thing that comes from orientation - and trust me, it's a good one, definitely try to take advantage of the chance to get know the other ETAs while you're there. Also, it's good because it let's you know that pretty much no one has any idea what they're going to be doing. It's scary to jump into something unknown, but a lot less scary knowing 140 other people are jumping right there with you. Of course you do get to learn about the German school system and lesson planning and you get some really good material!
"Will Fulbright help us find housing?"
No. They will, however, make sure you have somewhere to stay before you leave orientation - be it in a new apartment or with a teacher. But you're not alone on the housing searching. Your school is there to help you with all that. So once you get your placement, get in touch with your school. They are not just your employers, they are pretty much your welcome committee too, so don't be afraid to ask for their help with things like finding housing, getting registered at the Ausländeramt, or setting up a bank account. Finding housing will either be super easy or a pain in your ass, but you will not be homeless - I promise! If you're looking for a WG or an apartment, the best place to look as WG Gesucht.
"Is it possible to enroll at a University?"
Yes! And for the most part it's either free or less than 300€ a semester (puts things into perspective, eh?). Now, I can't speak for every university, but when I enrolled in Dortmund I had to go to the international secretary. It was an obnoxious day of waiting and absolutely no order, but once I actually got to speak to somebody, it took about 15 minutes to enroll. All I needed was my work contract (you'll need that for about everything, so don't lose it!), my passport, and proof of health insurance. If you don't want to take any classes, I would still suggest looking into enrolling for the perks of being a student. In Nordrhein-Westfalen, for example, with our 220€ student fees (the only amount you have to pay to enroll), you get a Semester ticket to travel on all Nahverkehr in NRW. Yes, that means if I'm traveling anywhere in NRW I never have to pay for a train ticket, as long as I'm not taking the ICE or IC. Definitely worth it.
Other Fulbright FAQ posts can be found here.
Other questions can be left as a comment to this post or emailed here.