Luckily, my Fulbright journey began a couple months before the University of Mainz started its classes and before I began teaching at the Schloss Gymnasium in Mainz, Germany.
I arrived in Vienna, Austria after a temporary break-up with my girlfriend in Texas. I began studying German once again because I had not studied any German after applying for the the Fulbright grant in Germany.
When I arrived in Germany in September, it was significantly colder than Vienna. The sky was gray, my dorm was far away from campus, and I did not know anyone there. I had been placed in a foreign dormitory surrounded by non-German speakers from all around the world. There were no other Americans around.
However, my luck quickly changed. I found a place to live that was walking distance from the university and a short stint from the school. My estranged girlfriend came to visit me.
In 2004, I joined the University of Mainz Ju Jutsu team where I met two of my friends who I will cherish for life, Jan and Thomas, who have visited me in the USA, and we all know each others’ families now.
Over the years, we have taken several canoe trips with the Mainz team. In the picture, I am in front carrying the canoe with Jan and Oli in back at the Lahn River. We spent the night in teepees, grilled with about 20 team members on this first trip of mine with them.
In 2005, Thomas flew to Texas, drove with me to Mexico, I flew back to Germany and Jan and I flew to Las Vegas in 2008 where we profited from some well-calculated and careful gambling (i.e., we both decided that we could not lose more than $100, or otherwise we’d stop each other from gambling further).
Luckily, Jan and I won a few hundred dollars each to pay for our trip, and we drove from Nevada to the Grand Canyon and to New Mexico where my cousin, Nathan, took us mountain climbing in Taos and to a concert in Colorado of Government Mule.
In Germany, I established another base, another home with life-long friends. I used that base for my next adventure with Fulbright in Bulgaria at the crossroads of Asia and Europe.
Sofia, Bulgaria offered the Fulbright International Summer Institute in 2007. I was fortunate enough to join, take classes and travel to amazing villages with fruits that could fill your belly before reaching the next village.
Former Fulbrighter, Prof. Alexander Gungov was the director of the PhD. program for philosophy taught in English. I befriended him and decided to stay in Bulgaria to earn my doctorate after two years of graduate school in Germany and St. Andrews, Scotland.
I earned my doctorate in Bulgaria and returned to Germany to teach as well as at my home institution, Texas State University-San Marcos. The trips back and forth between Texas, Germany and Bulgaria, especially the parts by train, are unforgettable adventures, filling my passports for the last two decades.
William Allen Brant – Fulbright to Germany 2004 & Bulgaria 2007