Sunday, 10 October 2010

a week back in the homelands

the past ten days have been exhausting and completely mad but also a lot of fun. last weekend we went out on a night-time cruise of the alster lake, which i think is my favourite thing i've done here so far. i didn't understand a word of what the guide was saying, but the views were absolutely spectacular. definitely got our money's worth. it was then that i realised i was actually gonna miss hamburg and all my lovely assistants on my breif trip back home. i'm officially becoming a hamburger!

monday morning brought with it an early coach trip to luebeck to fly back to england to visit various peoples and places. to say i was looking forward to this would be an understatement. as i've said many times before, although i'm enjoying my time on hamburg, it doesn't stop me missing home and uni and friends a ridiculous amount. first stop was reading, greeted at the door by roz with "so you came straight here from germany?". yes, yes i did. we went to revs that night (boooo) and realised that maybe 20 is a bit too old to embrace the fresher lifestyle. ho hum.

next stop was bristol, which i was possibly looking forward to the most. mainly because i knew that all the friends i had made there over the past two years had gone back down and were about to start their final year altogether. it was so, so good to see everyone again. i was endowed with the pleasure of deciding where to go out on the tuesday night (an almost impossible task), so we ended up outside a chip van for a good half an hour by 2am. GOOD times. wednesday was apprentice night, so obviously we stayed in (will had slightly less moral objection to this particular series, but he still didn't feel the need to watch). for thursday night we eventually settled on dojos, after MUCH deliberation. but i think everyone had a good time. jessy was down in bristol as well, allowing me to kill two birds with one stone so to speak. come friday afternoon i really didn't want to leave. i loved spending time with my housemates again and it made me realise just how good friends they are. luckily chris man didn't cry (he probably did when i left..). but the one saving grace of this disappointment was the relief of being spared a proper dissertation this year, which seems to be occupying the minds of every third year student at the moment. i'll just deal with working three days a week thanks.

friday night saw an extremely brief trip home to see the mother and father. had a nice little catch up and pep talk. however a 3am start on saturday to fly back to germany was not at the top of my wish lift and the whole journey was spent pretty much dreading going back. after a couple of days being back here i've realised that it wasn't a fear of being abroad or a even a general desire to not go back; i realised that the security and comfort of being back in the uk with friends and family was too comfortable, too familiar to want to leave again. after a day spent being miserably homesick, i perked up again today, happy to be here and looking forward to another week of german adventures all over the country. but more on that next time.


Thursday, 30 September 2010


it seems like the longer i'm here, the less i have to write about. i guess everyday is becoming that bit more normal and with every day i feel more and more like a actually live here. so i'll try and piece together what i can remember from the past few days

school is going very well. despite being thrown in at the deep end and having to do lessons on my own from day one, it's really enjoyable. it's great knowing that you're the expert and you can say anything you want and they'll just take it as read. this week brought with it a new seriesof questions, my favourite of which being "do you sell drugs?"

i've barely been in my flat in the past few days. again it's the wanting to be kept busy that's kept me away from my room. that means more coffees, more lunches, more dinners, more drinks, more films (cinem date #2 was 'dinner for schmucks' dubbed in to german, and once again i understood the majority of what was being said - maybe i'll actually learn some german this year)

today was tajah's birthday so we had a meal out in the sternschanze (in an attempt to find a german restaurant, we all opted for the burger and chips, sehr gut). i came back home to find my first bits of german post waiting for me on the side which was a nice surprise. tomorrow is rent day (finally) so i have to head down to the bank and try and figure out how to actually PAY my rent - every day is a learning curve!

it seems like saturday will be the day for a day trip to bremen to visit the one and only primark. i will probably end up exploring solo that day, on account of my hatred for primark. but it'll be good to head out of the 'burg for the day. and then monday is home time! i'm so ridiculously excited about being at home, being in bristol for freshers to see the people who i miss so very much. i'm enjoying myself here, but nonetheless i can't wait to see everyone again


Sunday, 26 September 2010

one year abroad. no german required.

so it seems the year abroad is actually quite a lot of fun when you don't have to speak any german. you can identify the language assistants in hamburg by the big group of british students moving from cafe to cafe, drinking and eating our way through the city and complaining about having to go into school for a whole two hours the next day. although we'll all probably have to stray away from our little comfort zone at some point this year (just for a little bit), it's nice having the security of a good 20 people all in the same boat as you

my room is FINALLY complete. i actually feel like i live here. thanks to a sweeping visit from the cherrills, i have a new furniture layout and pictures on my walls. it was great to see some familiar faces - mamma cherrill even paid for my dinner. i get looked after so well! there are also soon to be curtains on my windows, after i find out what the german word for drill is and find out where i can borrow one from.

pre-drinking in katy's halls of residence last night lead us to a game of singstar in the bar. oh my god, it is the best game in the world. the choice of songs also lead to some reaffirmations from the group:
"like a virgin (i'm not a virgin), touched for the very first time (it's not the first time)"
i seriously have to invest in one of those for the future.

the working week starts tomorrow. but by wednesday the hard graft will be over and will be followed by (hopefully) a brief trip to berlin to see the germ-span kids and then a nice five days back in britainland to revisit the bristol freshers experience for the third time in a row. ON IT


Thursday, 23 September 2010

i'm always tired in germany

despite a good ten hours sleep, i've been in a permanent state of tiredness all day. even though i don't realistically speak that much german in one day, it's still effort to think of a sentence in my head, rearrange and correct it to make it sound sense, and then say it out loud (which overall takes a good 5-10 seconds)

my attack on german bureaucray worked out pretty well. there was a three hour wait at the citizens' centre, so NATRUALLY we went for lunch inbetween, only for the whole experience to end in sitting at a desk with a woman typing stuff on a screen for five minutes and then giving me a bit of paper with a stamp on it. so worth it. tomorrow i tackle the bank - fun times. i could get used to these three day weeks

i actually spoke to some of my flatmates properly today - despite the backing of about six other english native speakers, but at least i'm finally getting used to speaking real german, not fake, laughable denglish with the other assistants. the issue of NO CURTAINS IN MY ROOM came up, which is soon to be sorted by a trip to ikea. thank fuck for that.


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

oh and cash machines

i haven't yet learned from my mistake of getting €50 from a cash point and then getting an actual €50 note.. which NO-ONE will accept. scheisse

anyway, today was my first lesson with a group of students on my own. boys and girls for 45 minutes each. the girls wanted to know where to go out in london and how old i was (they're all 18 or 19. cheeky) and the boys wanted to know if english girls are easy and if it's easy to buy weed. all in a day

OH. and i now have my own pigeonhole, with 'Herr Bicknell' written on the front. it's epic.

school has decided to give me a four-day weekend every week, HOORAY. all i need to do know is figure what to with myself every thursday to sunday and i'll be fiiiiine

tomorrow is attempt number two at german bureaucracy. apparently i need something called a 'anmeldebest├Ątigung' in order to then get 'freiz├╝gigkeitsbescheinigung' to then open a bank account. literally no idea.

life is becoming easier everyday. i'm getting especially good at navigating my local train station which happens to be the central station with about 97493643647893 platforms. i've also finally decided to come home for about a week in the beginning of october. we have two weeks school holiday and although i know i should stay and become more german by the day i actually miss home much more than i thought. roll on bristol freshers!


Tuesday, 21 September 2010

dearest lidl/aldi/real/penny/edeke

will you PLEASE stop fucking throwing things down the conveyor belt at me, giving me absolutely no time to pack my bags (oh yeah, my OWN bags cos plastic bags don't even fucking exist in germany)
love from chris xx

well, as they say - 'it's all part of the experience' (fuck off..)

Monday, 20 September 2010

welcome to the 'burg

it's been precisely one week since i arrived in germany, and i thought it might be time to update everyone on how it's going and also try to figure how i even feel about the whole weird situation.

soooo.. arrived in cologne on monday afternoon (after the wheels having come of my piece of shit suitcase in brussels, complete fml) and met the other language assistants headed for the three day induction at altenberg. there were about 120 of us, majority british with some canadians and irish for luck, making for a pretty intense mini freshers take two experience

altenberg consisted of 7.30am starts, a day full of talks/workshops/practice lessons and then followed by the opening of the bar at 8.30 every night (we will never get bored of getting drunk). of course the obligatory round of 'i never' on the first night lead to a number of revelations which allowed us to estimate the male population of the induction course at around 50% gay (schwulenberg), hilarious times. also we managed to track down a tv on the first night and watched some of GIRLS CLUB (mean girls dubbed into german: "und nichts for gretchen wiener..")

of course the thursday morning rolled around far too quickly, we headed back to cologne for some emotional farewells and i think it's fair to say that everyone was going to miss our little altenberg and the amazing people we had all met there :)

luckily, there was a good twenty of us headed to hamburg, so we all caught the four hour train together, gradually bricking it more and more until we arrived at the central station to meet our crazy german mentor teachers and begin our lives as proper foreigners. mine started off with an awkward lunch at an italian restaurant (all conducted in german of course, where i proceeded to realise that i don't understand a word anyone is saying..). i then headed to my shiny new shared flat, right in the centre of the city with (wait for it..) a lift which opens up straight into the kitchen, ahhhhh yeah

since most of my new flatmates are still on uni holidays, we've been out almost every night since i've been here. i of course invited a couple of assistants round for some moral hand holding - i still don't have the courage to go out on my own with a group of german people. but they've all been extra nice to me so far, so here's hoping! last night was the obligatory night in and involved over 14 hours of much needed sleep.

so now i'm sitting in a still fairly blank room, wondering what to do with myself until school rolls round again tomorrow. my first day was friday and i had to take an entire class pretty much by myself - not really playing by the rules, but if they wanna pay me to speak english for an hour and a half i'm more than happy to oblige. it's weird teaching people the same age as me. it's pretty much exactly like henley college, so it's weird being on the other side of the desk. but i got to use the blackboard (yes they still have blackboards here) and draw a rudimentary map of the uk. they loved it.

i haven't yet properly tackled the german bureaucracy - tomorrow is the day for registering my residence, opening a bank account and activating my sim card. HOORAY

so on the whole, it's going alright. i sometimes forget i've only been here for a week, so when i feel like a newbie foreigner who doesn't know anything or anybody, it's cos it's most definitely true. but like all things, i'm sure i'll settle in soon. i need to man up in pretty much all aspects of life right now, but i'm sure one day i'll look back and laugh at my first shaky few days as a foreigner.