What a Year!
Last letter from Sydney: Jennifer Gaschler – now home in Germany – looks back on her stay in Australia.
Apr 19, 2020
The University of Sydney is now closed for an indefinite period to curb the spread of the coronavirus. All lectures are only held online, and most of the many international students are back in their home countries. Jennifer Gaschler has been back in Germany since the beginning of April.
“What a year!” the Australians say, shaking their heads. From October through December the country suffered under the worst bush fires in decades. Clouds of smoke hung over Sydney for weeks. The drought was followed by floods that washed away entire streets, and there were weekly protests for more climate protection. Students harshly criticized politicians for focusing on fossil fuels and ignoring the millennia-old knowledge of Aboriginal people for dealing with the red continent. Now the corona virus has arrived in the disaster-stricken country, and the protective measures are strict.
In spite of all this, my time in Sydney was a wonderful experience. Due to the adverse circumstances, the optimism of the Australians came into its own. “She’ll be right, mate,” as the popular saying goes: everything will be fine.
The semester is over. In my theater studies seminars we analyzed productions, and in the art college, there was a final exhibition of our analogue films. In my glassblowing class, I made vases in a surrealist style that lose their shape and look like the molten state of glass.
For the university's Dramatic Society, which was founded in 1889 and is thus the oldest existing theater company in Australia, I staged Franz Kafka's The Trial as an immersive drama. Together with the international ensemble, we set up the theater on campus in the atmosphere of the GDR in the 1970s. The audience moved with the actors to various locations and was part of the action. One critic pronounced it, “Weird, wonderful and very German.”
In February I had some extremely low and very high experiences: diving in the Great Barrier Reef and hang gliding over cliffs, the beach, and the sea. Fantasy worlds abound "Down Under," with neon shoals of fish, futuristic underwater cities composed of multicolored corals, singing whales, boxing kangaroos, and tropical birds that sometimes look like pterosaurs.
After an odyssey through various abandoned airports and with an involuntary stopover in Qatar, I finally landed back in Germany. We locals were first greeted by police officers who checked to be sure that only German citizens got off the plane: “Welcome home!”