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Wolfgang Seitz

"These months in 1968/69, the beauty of the American West and my personal encounters with so many friendly and helpful people have filled my heart with gratitude until today."

I was chosen in 1968 to go to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, from late August 1968 to the end of April 1969. My voyage was paid for by a Fulbright Travel Grant. We went to Genoa/Italy by train from Vienna only to find out that the ship's crew had gone on strike. So we were put up in a hotel in Genoa for - I believe - 2 nights (maybe also 3) and had time to do the city, to go swimming in the sea and to try the local food. I had mussels for the first time in my life. The Leonardo da Vinci arrived in New York 9 days after our departure from Genoa, and on board we had the time of our life (a swimming-pool on deck; a bar with music to dance to in the evenings). From New York to Ann Arbor I traveled by train and from the station to my dormitory by bus. Another student on that bus asked me if I considered it likely that the Russians would ever invade the Czech Republic. I said that was impossible. He then declared that the East Bloc countries, led by the Soviet Union, had done just that the previous night. I was completely stunned.

I was made a Teaching Fellow in the Classics Department and so earned my living. Teaching Latin to young Americans was a unique experience. There I had the privilege to meet Prof. Wolfgang Schadewaldt from Tübingen/Germany, who was Visiting Professor for one term. My acquaintance with this truly outstanding philologist helped me later (after my return to the University of Innsbruck) to arrange a guest lecture by Prof. Schadewaldt in Innsbruck. In the Hill Auditorium I heard Janis Joplin live as well as Yehudi Menuhin. During his concert one of the strings of his violin broke, but he played on as if nothing had happened. Afterwards souvenir-hunters scrutinized the stage to find a piece of this string.

My parents sent me a Greyhound-ticket (30 days for $ 99,00) as a Christmas present. So I spent the next four months planning a trip round the United States after the end of my 2 terms in Ann Arbor. These 30 days were the most exciting experience of my life. The list of places that I was able to see is impressive: Wisconsin Dells - Mount Rushmore - Yellowstone National Park - Grand Teton National Park - Salt Lake City - Reno - Lake Tahoe - Sacramento - Yosemite National Park - San Francisco - Los Angeles - Albuquerque - Flagstaff - Grand Canyon - Las Vegas - Denver - St. Louis - Ohio - Washington, D. C., - New York. I shall never forget the friendliness of the Greyhound bus-drivers, who advised me on cheap and clean accommodation, a vital thing for a student. There was not one single unpleasant experience on this entire trip (except for a very spicy chili-dish in Albuquerque). Another thing I will always remember are the three families that took turns inviting me to meals, to visits in their homes, to rides into near-by Canada, to movie-shows. With two of them I am still in contact, and I even met one family in 2008 in Chicago at the world's biggest Candy-Fair. These months in 1968/69, the beauty of the American West and my personal encounters with so many friendly and helpful people have filled my heart with gratitude until today.

Dr. Wolfgang Seitz studied Classics at the University of Michigan as an Austrian Fulbright Student in 1968-69.


Austrian Student Humanities Language and Literature Classics