But when he was given a pen and paper by hospital staff hoping he would write his name, he instead drew a piano. When one was brought to him, he reportedly played for hours.
The case drew international attention and Grassl was mistakenly identified as, among others, a French street musician, an Irish exchange student who lived in Norway and a Czech keyboardist, before he eventually spoke and identified himself.
The Scotsman reports that Grassl's friends say the catalyst for his bizarre stay in England was a shattered gay love affair. Markus Groebel, a 23-year-old who says he met Grassl in a gay nightclub, told the paper, "He met someone in France. It was a love affair. And it all went wrong and he cracked up. That's it."
In March 2005, one month before he washed up in Kent, Grassl was in the small Breton fishing village of Pornic. Some students apparently believe his dip in the English Channel was a suicide attempt, or at least a cry for help.
He is now studying at the university in Basel, Switzerland, "free to pursue the French literature he adores, and to live the gay lifestyle that was unthinkable amid the farmers' sons [in Bavaria] he grew up with," according to The Scotsman.
One university acquaintance told the the paper that Grassl "is very well-liked by the girls on the course. Of course, they don't see a skirt-chaser but a sensitive, intelligent man capable of quoting great tracts of poetry and helping them all with their homework when most of the guys just want to sleep with them."