Archive for August, 2009

“Pardon madame, ich steige hier aus”

August 31, 2009

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(Photo courtesy of VVAllmen)

Warning for you all now, this is going to be a long and fairly unorganised post with lots of different things in. If you make it to the end, I’m proud of you already.

This blog has a to-do list.

So I was in France last week. I’m not sure entirely what I wrote about in my last post and, even though I could very easily check, I can’t be arsed.

I remember writing about why I disliked Paris. This will be further discussed here. So. Oh, in fact, I remember now. I wrote down the thing that depressed me and made me dystopic from Monday’s stay in Paris on my phone (which is now out of battery – so I’ll charge that up and write out what it was… [there is a pause]).

We could flood the streets with love or light or heat whatever
Lock the parents out, cut a rug, twist and shout
Wave your hands, make it rain for stars will rise again.

The well versed will notice that this is some MGMT lyrics. But for those, as me, who don’t immediately recognise it, and for those, again as me, who were feeling a bit weltschmertzy about being in Paris in the first place, these kind of words are easily haunting.

Another thing that pointed at dystopic Paris was the wind. I had to stand on the Number 5 as it jetted around like a ferret beneath the Parisian overgrowth and, what with the windows open, such an outdoorsy wind blew through our hair. It was awful… To be surrounded in this painfully awkward silence down there, with this eerie wind blowing through the open windows of a naked tin can, every time a pair of eyes looks at you, you’re struck with fear or something. It’s so awful. You might think I suffer from claustraphobia, reading this. It doesn’t help that I’ve just tuned into Shostakovich’s 8th Symphony… Yum BBC proms.

Another thing I want to document, for me to read back on later, is that the doors of the metro shut so dramatically and loudly and not quite in time with each other for it to be reassuring. It’s just crack, slide, then they all shut at slightly different times, like a bone crack that goes right through you. It’s horrible, the Parisian subway. Horrid.

Having said that, I did actually enjoy bits of it. It was so wonderful to see a woman (she had quite a big face, but was still very attractive), holding flowers and reading a book in English (a new book, can’t remember its name). She looked up and me and smiled a few times. The flowers made her fit the Parisian stereotypes a bit more clearly.

Another women in Gare De Lyon (my French is shit and I may have spelt this wrongly) and I did that thing where you walk into each other and one of you fails to decide decisively enough to go one way other other. I said, “pardon,” in my very best and well practised French accent and she smiled, so sweetly, and just laughed. That was probably what prompted me to ring Fay and tell her that Paris was happier on Friday than it had been on Monday.

Thing with Paris is that it gets so heavily romanticised in literature and pop-culture all over the place that you struggle to comprehend it. I loved – as always – how Pol point so fine a point on it to say that you struggle to believe it’s real, because of all its forced romanticism, you start to question whether you really exist there. That’s a nice way to think about. And when I say nice, I mean “accurate.” It’s so tiring. Feels like I’m wading through some dream, rather than through the capital of France.

But it hasn’t all be depressingly bad. I really, really enjoyed being in Fay’s company and helping her get some bant on last week. What was a bit depressing was how easily she got her bant on with the locals.. She thinks far quicker than I can and can establish a pretty good relationship with someone almost instantly. Like when she noticed the hotellier poking his head around the corner of the private quarters and onto our exiting footsteps, she said, “owh, espion” or some better-spelt French word. “Spion” is German for ‘spy,’ just as this word she uttered was in French, but I’d never’ve thought about it that quickly.. Getting your sense of humour across is really difficult in another language, really it is.

But today was good for that. Today is Sunday. Veronika and I met up and I’d told her on Saturday that we’d speak in German the whole day Sunday. And we did. And it’s one of the 2 times, since I’ve been here, that I’ve really felt at home in the language. Really able to get stuck into the thing. It takes a good long while, but after a bit it’s just so much easier, but then I can’t get back. The hump between the language is just so massive for me at the moment, but as I understand from what Sarah Marks said about it, that’s one of the things you notice disappears after you get better at German. I can sort of imagine that, too. Once you solidify it, you worry about it less and the then hump lessens itself. But even once I was Germaning with Veronika, she’d often speak English to me (when we were talking about oh-too-specific knit-vocab – my Strickwortschatz isn’t too great at the mo…), I’d often reply in German. Just because that’s what we’d been speaking and it came more naturally to me to want to reply in German.

… Man. I love it so much. I love speaking German. I love getting there and not worrying about the words your saying.. Just enjoying it for what it is and being able to bant about in it. Sure, I make mistakes more than I should, but, as the day darkens, I get better (just as quick as I get tired – which is a pain). After a point pretty early on, you stop worrying about it and stop deconstructing sentences like a loser and just get on with getting your point across.

So that’s that. (For those that are wondering, the other time I felt entirely comfortable operating in German was with the sweaty blue-t-shirted German. See post).

I booked flights for Polly’s birthday yesterday too. I’m really looking forward to going back and visiting the home country. Being immediately understood is actually quite high on my list of things I’m looking forward to. But what I’m most looking forward to (other than the party itself, of course), is a quiet night on Friday with Pol and Kate! It’s going to be so good to see them both again, being that the last time I saw them both was when I moved out of 4b, back in June. I really can’t wait.

Marwood gets here Tuesday. Can’t wait for that either. It’s going to be so good to have one of my closest friends right on my door step on my Year Abroad, and, cause we’re so eagre to be amazing Germanists, we won’t get bogged down into living in each other’s pockets. Having said that, I do kinda hope that she’ll want to speak to me in English. Just because I miss being able to be understood and being able to understand without having to climb over the language threshold all the time.

Laura Paul moved out Saturday. I met up with her for a Subway Friday night, which was fun. I really like her – she’s so friendly and cool. It’s a real shame that I’ve clicked with her so soon before she leaves the country, but she leaves behind her a conncetion with her housemates (one that I’d similarly have built up over the course of Marwood’s Zwischenmiete there, but still). I met the famous Eva then too and she’s going to become something good for me in a short time too. Hopefully.

Gah. I’m really bummed out about LP leaving actually… We got on so well, even if my humour didn’t always come across. I really liked that she was so happy and eagre to speak in German with me.

I met her dad that evening too. And, after a few of my sentences, he turned to me and said, der ist kein Deutscher (he’s no German). Which made me want to stab the nearest glass, unsmashed, into my stomach. Nothing against him, of course. I mean, he was probably surprised that there was an English boy sitting in his daughter’s bedroom (who wouldn’t be?), but I’m just so eagre to be amazing at German. And I know it’ll take a while. I just want it so desperately. It’ll come, it’ll come.

This is probably nearish the end of this post now. I’m running out of observations to make.

I do however want to apologise for anything I’ve written about anyone I’ve met which has offended them or which has revealed too much of what they’ve told me to the general and open public. I’ve been accused of being an exhibitionist by keeping this thing and it’s often made me want to make it completley private, journalistic and for my eyes only, but I really don’t want to. I like to write stuff so that people can read if they like. And I like a reason to take some would-be arty photos, pretentious as they are. The excuse is nice. But I often write throw-away things, without thinking twice about it and I apologise if you’ve been caught in the crossfire. I am trying to keep things a bit more about the transfers now. And, those who’ve been reading all along will probably notice that things are getting less journalistic (I did this, then this, then this, then this) and (hopefully) more thematic (and brackets-full) as I go along (brackets).

Again, apologies to those who want them. Without meaning to sound heartless. I am actually really sincere 🙂

Other things that’ve happened in this time: I realised I don’t have near enough plugs and need one of those gang-plug things (always makes me think of JHRowe), I don’t have enough wool to knit all the things I want to and am getting quickly more and more addicted to the craft, lost a bag of some of my favourite needles and a newly-completed cowl I was knitting for Nicola on the train (filed a report with Deutsche Bahn and am just waiting on their reply now), wrote a postcard to my grandmama, bought a peach and nectarine, ate a fantastic, freshly-baked pretzel; suddenly got an influx of shitty British (and therefore oh-my-god yummy) tea (Safiya’s sending me a box, Fabian brought me a box from England back with him and I managed to find a small box of 40 tea bags in a Persian shop near the knit-group yesterday (I wrote on it, “belongs to the Brit :)”)); started knitting Ros’ shrug (going v, v fast… Massively thick wool is teh SECKS), worried more about my money situation, emailed the German-Jordanian University again about them maybe taking me there, considering Yemen is shit; had a fantastic cup of tea from that PG-box I just wrote about; realised I definitely need to buy a double duvet and that Kaufhof is not the place to do it (300€), received my wool-box (with my super-duper headphones in!) through the post on Monday. That’s it. I like spamming lots of information into one paragraph at the end of an otherwise well-thought-out post.

End.

We could flood the streets with love or light or heat whatever
Lock the parents out, cut a rug, twist and shout
Wave your hands, make it rain for stars will rise ag

Remember 8 hours of knitting on trans-Europe trains?

August 26, 2009

pas de pictures. desolay.

So France isn’t that far away from Heidelberg as it turns out. Having said that, you do have to sit on an ICE train for 3 hours. And they travel so fast, it makes you dizzy. I was unlucky enough to be sitting opposite the direction of travel so I felt quite sick, at 320 km/h. Fast.

I was sitting next to an Australian girl who had just been on some package travel thing around Europe.. Greece, England, Paris, Berlin to name a few of the places she was in. She was interesting, but I knitted a lot so I think she thought I was weird (a woman passing double-took and stood staring for a few seconds. I smiled at her).

I got into Paris at 10 to 5, Monday and had to fight my way out of the station and onto the metro system. Other than being sold a ticket by a man who spoke lots of French at me (turns out the machines don’t accept notes – only cards and coins), that went pretty well.

Paris is one of those places that convinces me I’m already living in a dystopia. The metro’s really sad. People just sit there, ignoring each other, and the walls of the tram are plastered with adverts for stuff. I looked at one in particular that made me think this, but I’ve forgotten what it was now. A really pretty girl (on the second metro I took) had her eyes closed for the majority of the one-stop trip. When she did open them, she looked at me. And I got one of those European, unashamed eye-contact locks. I didn’t look away, neither did she. But one of us had to. So I did. When I looked back at her, she was eyes closed and swaying again.

So empty. So tiring and painfully independent. Weird posters. Posters advertising belief, particularly, strengthen it. It’s so difficult to write about in hindsight now, but it’s so strong at the time – so painfully dystopic.

Oddly, it’s also one of those places that fills me with loads of romance. All this stuff has been written about before, of course. People bum on about how Paris is romantic city and is filled with all this crap, but.. I’ve never really noticed it for myself. Being there, yesterday, riding the trams and being entirely independent there just made me want to learn French. For the first time ever. Shocko.

On the second train (another 3-hour event), I sat next to a pilot. Air France pilot. He chain-watched PowerPoint presentations about lots of places they fly too. It was quite interesting to see how much they have to know about each of the destinations. Like the descent and how they taxi along the runways and into the terminals. And all about altitude and the physical geography all around it. It was all in French, so I couldn’t nosey all that much. And I was knitting again.

Plenty of homosexuals in this country. Everywhere. And the average hotness of all people is higher than England and possibly Germany.

I’m quite jealous of Fay for having the opportunity to spend her year abroad in France; it’s so much more romantic and the country of legends than Germany. She so much more likely to have a steamingly romantic year abroad here (not in terms of traditional ‘romance,’ I mean romance of the place itself).

So I got off the train in Clermont-Ferrand, having not understood a word of any of the announcements made on the train. I feel so bad that I can’t understand a single word of French here.. It’s so painful. And I’d just got used to the idea of being surrounded by foreigners, but still being able to speak to them. I had to remind myself that I could in fact speak their language, but here, I have to go back to being a dumb Brit, at whom all the French people can sigh and then feel superior.

I had to fight through some throbs of people to find Fay and when I saw her, I had to point out a woman who had been sitting opposite me on the train and was wearing fantastic trousers. 3-quarter lengths, but really baggy and open. They really suited her. And looked fab.

So Fay and I hugged. It was ace to be here finally.. Hadn’t really thought that much about being in her company and, now, it’s a bit difficult to make it seem as big a deal as it really is, but I know just as well as I should that for me to feel the right emotion at the right time is difficult and I always end up being emotional about stuff way after. Probably endemic of a lot of people, but nonetheless, it’s a pain.

Fay and I walked back through the soaking rain (light, but still soaking) towards her place. We bought pancakes. She’s really good at banting with the natives, which I’m a bit jealous of. I’m only just starting to be able to bant about with the people that I’m getting to know in German (like LPaul and Sabine and Veronika (even though we speak English a lot!)). I wish I could just relax into it more. I think I worry more about the situation that Fay does. She’s really good.

So we slept.

Today, Tuesday, we got up really late. We were still bumming around in pjs and watching TV at getting on for 2. The cleaners came in and I looked really dumb in all directions while Fay banted at them. One of them is Moroccan and they chatted about Ramadan (Fay’s fasting, which makes my want to break my unenforced fasting difficult). From what I understand, this woman, later became known as Zohra, invited Fay to join her and her family to break her fast with them in the evening. Trés gentile. Damn, wish I could speak more French.

Then we decided – being both lazy or fasting and lethargic – that we’d go and see a film. We shopped around the local cinemas and decided to go to the one around the corner. We watched a VO (version originale) film (means it’s in English with subtitles – for my benefit), called Sita chante le blues. I really, really enjoyed it. (Spoilers until end of paragraph) It’s a link between a modern-day love story (which is pretty linear – woman gets dumped by boyfriend) and the Hindu story of Rama and Sita, whilst still being witty and snidey about the modern Hindu’s knowledge of the Ramayana. It was really cleverly written and very entertaining and has consequently made its way into my top 5 films, somewhere. Must buy a DVD of it.

On the way back, I realised again how much more exciting France is as a country than Germany. It makes me want to be all romantic and go see films spontaneously or develop habits, like seeing a film every day or every other day or something. I can do all of this in Germany, but there’s something in the language that makes it more difficult.. Less exciting and immediate.

Now, I’m writing (about to knit) and Fay’s snoozing-loozing.

Kiss kiss mes amis.

Happy Birthday Gannerz!

August 24, 2009

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Happy Birthday Flatmate!

21 wooooo!! (also how cool are these cupboard things?!)

21 is old man. Old. OLD.

I’ve been a massive unorganised and you’re not going to get things from me in the post today. Cause I lose. But I’m going to be there on your birthday. Which is the best present ever. (Consequently, meagre offerings when I arrive, too).

WOooooo!! Have a great day! Spill yellow eggy mixture everywhere please.

Lots of love! x

ps: I wore houseC today to honour you. Win.

Remember the swelling of bells?

August 23, 2009

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Sundays in Germany.

This is something I need to learn and probably quicker than I can. All shops for sources of groceries just shut on Sundays. For the whole day. They’re not even open for 10 minutes. At all. So now, as I’m sitting here, with some distant monotonous ringing bell-swelling, fattening and thinning every 30 seconds or so, almost as if it’s being coned in a certain direction and spinning like a light house.

Sophie claimed to have found language errors (of spelling or grammar (pah!)) in my blog. This has yet to be proven. (Typos are accepted).

I’ve struggled thinking about something specific enough to write about for a while now. A lot of things that I’d’ve dedicated an entire post to have come and gone, but I think the novelty of them has worn off. I haven’t updated since Thursday… So I’ll go through a boring-mode list of what’s happened since then. Thursday was the hottest day of my life. So I moved as little as possible. Then when it was cooler, I went down to BigPommes on the high street and bought myself falafel, sat opposite Marc O’Polo and feasted, whilst half-crying about missing the falaf times with Pol, Fay and the crew in Durham. Friday, I bought tickets to go and see Fay in France (leaving tomorrow, returning Friday) and then went to get ice-cream in the evening with Hans and Sarah. Which was yum. During ice-cream, LPaul texted me and invited me to go over to hers to watch a film with Danijel and her. So I texted eagerly back, left the ice-cream crew (they were off for a film anyway) and leapt onto the 23 (bit rashly) and called her. She hadn’t got my text, so it was a small surprise. Then I struggled getting into her house, but it was a really nice evening once I was in. We spent most of it speaking in English (booooo!), but I can bant more that way. Plus, Zaolo (another resident in LPaul’s house whom I have yet to meet)’s sister was there and her English was better than her German, so we Englished. I missed the last tram home and had to walk through the city at 2am, but I survived.

Saturday, yesterday, was a big day of knitting. I ran out of stuff to knit early on Thursday or Friday evening, which was a massive bummer. I got really itchy hands and very nearly stormed down to the wool shop on Hauptstrasse to buy some wool, but, considering I have all the needles I need and all the wool I need on their way in a big box, I abstained. But I decided I’d start something.. Something simple and easy (even though it’s turned out to be a bit of a mammoth project.. knitting a cowl in sock yarn, for those of you who understand (noone?)), which I can just pick up, knit for a few hours and put down. So I casted that on yesterday and I’m a few inches in now, having spent a cumulative 6 or 7 hours on the thing since yesterday afternoon.

I popped in to see LPaul at work a couple of times too.. Just wanted to chat to her.

So today is Sunday. Veronika’s around in Heidelberg again so I’m hoping to meet up with her and sit somewhere doing some knitting in the sun or something, then I have to pack for France. Also need to shave. The European mainland has made me very hairy. (or lazy).

Other things that have happened that have nearly warranted posts of their own: I learnt how Germans say “Heel!” to their dogs (“Fuß!” or “bei Fuß!”), I learnt a new word which has probably got to be one of my faves (“Rührgerät” = electric whisk, type thing), I got approached by a man carrying a sign upon which was written, “Sind Sie heute bereit für die Ewigkeit?” (“Are you ready today for eternity?” or something better translated) who was shocked by a man ‘crocheting’ – I corrected him; I saw a gay couple walking down the high street, one of the guys with his arm around his boyfriend’s neck – v obvious; I realised I have €0 and £0, which is making things difficult and realised why I haven’t received the bank card to my German account yet (which is about to have €900 in it) – turns out you have to have your name on your letterbox. I did think about that briefly, but it didn’t occur to me to add my name to our letter box. (I think the German for “being on the letterbox” is “beschildert sein”.. Confirmation needed). I  became tangled in Ravelry last night and listened to some BBC Proms this morning (Rachmaninov and Shostakovich from earlier this week). Video-called Marwood and had a chat about her and her royals.

That’s pretty much it. So this has been a boring post. And I apologise. But it’s not for you. It’s for me. So sod off.

Remember the hottest few days of your life ever?

August 20, 2009

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In front of one of the university buildings is a collection of letters which spells out DEM LEBENDIGEN GEIST, if you stand in a certain place (where, conveniently, is placed a sign with info on it). It means something like “to the living spirit.” Info: here. I tried for ages to get a pic of it all as it stands – it’s really clever that the nearer letters are placed in such a way that makes them still fit in with the phrase. Sort of reminds me of that annoying internet habit people have: yOuKnoWtHeOnE.

So. It’s fackin hot here. Highs of 34 Celsius today. Who knew the Germans had such intense summers? Should’ve warned me. I’ve spent most of this morning avoiding direct sunlight and the idea of leaving the house still fills me with sweat. It’s been alright inside until about 10 minutes ago – I can feel the heat leaking in from outside now. It’s so hot. But the natives I’ve spoken to just say it’s worse in Heidelberg because of the mountains either side.. Down in the valley here, we seem to get all of the humidity and it’s a bit of a suntrap – apparently.

I met Torben this morning. And said “Guten Tag” to his parents, too. I had just woken up (this was midday.. I spent far too much time looking at Veronika’s hand-spun wools online last night), having set my alarm to wake me at a far more reasonable time. Meeting Torben makes 4/4 German housemates met. Also, I noticed that there was a little plastic box in the kitchen with a sign on top which reads, “Tomatoes from our own garden! Feel free to have one, if you want. Helena”. How sweet. Not our garden though – she’s been at home. I didn’t even know she was back. (Zweck-WG?).

So what’s been going on? Well. Laura Paul invited me out to Alix’s birthday party which started at 2pm yesterday afternoon. It was a boiling day yesterday too (and I completely mis-dressed myself, but have washed all my cooler clothes now.. Must buy some shorter trousers). So I went along, having poked around in Kaufhof moments earlier for a present to give. I got her a Happy Birthday postcard, a little green box (cute) and put a chocolate bar in it (with caramel in – struck lucky: she loves caramel). I helped out buttering some bread and met a girl who was going to do ERASMUS in Durham. She’s bilingual already (no clue why she wants to go do ERASMUS in England), flawless English of a native speaker. Confused me a bit. We didn’t chat much, but she was quite shy. I had to leave just after Alix had been given her presents, because I’d told Veronika that I’d tram up to Weinheim and meet her and ‘Sophie,’ with whom I’d had brief email contact (in a 3-way email convo with Veronika) for some knitting fun.

The tram was stupid and I had to wait in the baking heat on Schriesheim station for like 20 minutes. Which was horrid. But I spoke to the tram driver for help (almost all tram drivers in/around Heidelberg are female.. Very strange) and she was v polite.

Got to Weinheim and found Veronika and Sophie. Sophie’s a British girl, Masters graduate in Physics from Leeds who landed an editorial job in Germany which she found in the New Scientist. Her boyfriend, Adam, is also a Physicist, doing a PhD, but currently in Japan (can’t remember why now). She’s from Manchester, originally, and it was really comforting to hear someone use English so confidently and whip out all these slightly more edgy phrases, like “swing a right.” That’s a poor example, but the more imaginative of you will know what I mean. Her accent was lovely too.

We went down to an ice-cream place and I had a very lemony tasting ball of ‘vanilla’ ice-cream and some chocolate chip stuff. V yum, v cheap. Learnt that “Kugel,” the German word for ‘scoop,’ is die, not the previously presumed der.

Sat in another restaurant and got some knitting out. I managed to finish Safiya’s jacket’s 2nd sleeve, which means the entire thing is, theoretically, finished. Need to check whether I can stretch the first sleeve out a bit, otherwise I have to knit a 3rd sleeve. No matter, no matter.

We stayed around Weinheim for quite a while, eventually getting cake. My moaning about having finished my knitting was probably what caused Veronika and Sophie to stop knitting, but I hadn’t realised this at the time.

Sophie’s fun. I hope to see her again.

That’s it, really.

In admin: getting my wool-box in the post tomorrow hopefully, getting access to my German bank account any day now, getting confirmation that the SLC is actually going to pay me something, looked at flights home for Pol’s 21st and am probably going to have to miss Friday afternoon’s language coursery, need to look into trains/flights? to France to keep Fay company during her week of boring, funds depending.

Remember sweaty blue-t-shirted German?

August 19, 2009

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I feared for most of today that I wouldn’t have anything to write. But that all changed in the last 10 hours or so.
I decided I’d have a wander into town to breathe in some more of the still spangly Heidelberg spirit. I took my camera with me and took some photos all alone. I looked like a massive, lonely tourist, but who’s counting? Unfortantely, my camera doesn’t look snazzy enough for me to be a convincing photography enthusiast (neither is my approach, really), so I have to put up with looking like a n00b, but that’s ok.
I bought a German mobile. Number available on request.

I feared for most of today that I wouldn’t have anything to write. But that all changed in the last 10 hours or so.

I decided I’d have a wander into town to breathe in some more of the still spangly Heidelberg spirit. I took my camera with me and took some photos all alone. I looked like a massive, lonely tourist, but who’s counting? Unfortantely, my camera doesn’t look snazzy enough for me to be a convincing photography enthusiast (neither is my approach, really), so I have to put up with looking like a n00b, but that’s ok.

I bought a German mobile. Number available on request.

Then, noticing all the beautiful places there were to eat around and my painful lonliness nagging, I considered texting Laura Paul (the current tenant of what is now to become Marwood’s room) to ask her whether she and (homosexual) Danijel wanted to meet up with me for lunch. It did enter my mind that she might be working, but I went ahead anyway (having cleared it with Marwood first – more like checking whether I was being too weird). So I texted and heard nothing back, bought yums from German bakery and Penny Markt (bought a punet of 20 raspberries, vanilla yog, milk, a big bar of Milka White and some tortilla chips (later nommed all in one) for €4.74 – v impressed). Went home and nommed, whilst still sweating off the humidity and trying to break into German phone (hereafter referred to only as “Handy”).

At about 6, Laura returned my text and said that she was just eating at her place of work (just round the corner from me) and that I should go join. I thought – in England, this kind of socialising with someone I haven’t really met that often is a bit weird, but I’m in Germany and she’s on board, so what the hell – and off I went (having been delayed first by Safiya on the phone, but I didn’t mind <3). She’d just ordered some nom so I ordered a drink to keep me going.

We chatted. The whole time in German. I was rusty and it was vile. The threshold really is a big problem when you’re firing up with German, especially when you’re having to think about being funny and bantful and whether or not what you’re saying is out of place for your company. But anyway, she told me she was off “in den Teufel” (actually, she wrote that far before I met up with her in a text, but I hadn’t understood. It literally means “into the devil”). I asked her when we met up what this was and she explained it was a club in Weststadt.  And she invited me along. The more I denied and fired all of my weird moral objections at her, the more eagre she became. She ended up being really, really enthusiastic about it and offended that I might not go. I told her I’d text her later when I’d thought on’t, but left it in the “probs not” region.

Came home and Skype-dated Polster and Applepie, which was lovely, short-lived and full of technical mishaps. Got the “what have I got to lose?” bug and texted away saying that I was happily in. I was then to meet her on the Rudolf-Diesel-Strasse at 10.30 and she’d take me there.

That then happened. We went in to this very devilishly-decorated pub-cum-club thing and she took me to the Biergarten, which was surprisingly schön… There were candles around on the floor and small open flames as well as swinging chairs, tables and benches and a wooden bridge-esque feature between the outside and the inside. We chatted and I met Laura’s friends, who were sitting their waiting: Alix (with an I, v important), whose birthday it was about to be (and currently is), Josh and Christof to begin with, but later we were joined by Sabine and another guy whose name I keep forgetting. It was difficult at first to get some lingo flowing, so I spent most of it being introduced or banted at and smiling in the right places, with the odd bant-ful retort and a warming feeling in my stomach that I was understand the majority of their lols and bants.

It later transpired that Josh and I had planned to take the same S-Bahn home so he and I left, speaking English on the way. I’d previously got soo excited about his English accent, because he’s really worked on it and it sounds really good. Sometimes it’s a bit over-worked and causes him to make more mistakes than he needs to, but it’s otherwise almost perfect. We got to the Haltestelle and realised that there were plenty of busses taking us back into town as late as 1.09am, so we went back in.

By this point, I was nearing and crossing my threshold with German rustiness and was about to pop into the German-speaking zone, which is probably the first time I’ve got there since I’ve been here. We sat down and I managed to whip out some prime-cut bant and made lots of lols, but I was yet to get better.

We were told by the bar staff that we had to move inside, but argued that we wanted to wait outside until 12 because of Alix’s birthday. He said he’d give us free champagne if we moved inside just before 12 (there’s some rule about not being noisy in public places past a certain time in Germany), so off we trundled. The music got slower louder after we’d moved in and made it almost impossible to join in on any other conversation than the one you were currently holding with someone who was purposefully talking to you. I spoke quite a lot to Sabine – we discussed knitting (I’m going to teach her!) and I offered her my English-speaking services (she’s training to be an English and French teacher and has just spent ages in France and forgotten everything English). Anway, so louder and louder…

Then some of the ‘dancers’ came over. You have to imagine that there’s this pub, where we 7 or 8 are sitting around, being a bit doofusish – agreed – but still having some fun lols in the relative calm. So across came these guys and they spoke to us one on one. The first one was pretty easy to shoo, but the second? Enter sweaty blue-t-shirted German.

He first spoke to me in an attempt to get his friend back playing foosball (I think?). When he first spoke to me, he used a word I had never heard before and it wasn’t discreet enough for me to pretend or ask for someone else’s help (because of the volume). I told him I was English and he came flying round (having previously been leaning over a table at me) and said he could speak English. I told him he wasn’t to speak to me in English, because I was here to get my German up to scratch and, due given, he did.

We entered into what became a lengthy and logically incoherent persuasion on his part for me to go and join the dancers. We started with the “Vertreter” argument, that I was a representative of the English peoples (this was after he’d called all English peeps gay… I questioned him with how we were still alive…), moved into definitions of what exactly is fun, through my point that just speaking German was fun and therefore my ‘rumsitzen,’ which he kept saying (sitting around), was perfectly valid; and eventually into the widely accepted definitions of ‘fun.’ This lasted for well on half an hour.

The best thing about it is that my German was flowing. I was able to flow back my points to him with easy and even make him laugh, during out bant. Every time I saw him look away and smile (… you’re right, he wasn’t that ugly either…), it gave me such a lingo-buzz. I knew that I was getting there and I was totally able to take command of the conversation, which is something I’ve struggled to do so far in my time here. I kept stopping him speaking and telling him to “hör mir zu” or “warte!” (“listen to me” and “wait!”) and he did, mostly accompanied by one of those lingo-buzz smiles. It was fantastic. The others had grown tired of him long ago, but I was like a cat with a round object. Pawing at him and making him react (he was pretty drunk…) in the way I wanted to and toying around with his rhetoric was more fun than I could’ve imagined. I eventually congratulated him on having spend so much time talking to me and trying to convince me to go dance, but had to excuse myself to get on the going-home exodus with Josh and other nameless male – for which I had to run.

The evening at Zum Teufel was massively amazing. In terms of language, but that’s all I needed to get me really going. It was so fantastic to get used to being banty and being in a relaxed atmosphere around Laura P and her friends was just what I needed. I met some really cool people and they were all so willing to remain in German. In fact, when we rarely Englished, it made things much slower, so I was just as happy to stay in German (nearing and eventually crossing my think-threshold) as they were.

Josh and I had to walk quite a distance of the way home on account of the busses being a bit crap. We walked illegally twice and I told him he was responsible for my freedom. We spoke in English, cause I couldn’t stop <3-ing his accent. That, obviously, brought me back over the threshold and into English again, which made retelling the story to a still-up-late Ansgar quite difficult.

Other things that happened today: answered the landline phone to a real German and dealt with it semi-admirably, saw a middle-aged man in the bar literally fall off his stool, having tried to chat-up Laura moments before (she’s v pretty), worn my brown-stripey trousers for the first time here and not felt too out of place (except for Ansgar’s sometimes odd looks), had a sub-standard cup of tea and missed England, learnt the word for “hoarse,” procrastinated through wanting to do some washing and remembered to take my key with myself to avoid being ausgeschlossen once again.

Fin.

Remember Rote Karte für Schwarzfahrer?

August 16, 2009

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Remember Rote Karte für Schwarzfahrer?
One of the most amazing things happened to me today. Definitely a confidence boost. I was on such a high afterwards.
I was due to go and look at Laura’s house today (this is going to get confusing cause there were two Lauras… Laura Marwood, my friend from England, and Laura Paul, the girl who’s Zwischenmiete-ing her room). So LPaul texted me asking whether we could rearrange for me to go see her flat. So I did. Got on the S-bahn and texted her just beforehand to ask which type of ticket I should get. I knew “City-Ticket” would get me some of the way, but wasn’t sure whether Rheinstrasse was out of the “City” zone. Anyway, I bought the City-Ticket for €1 (the other ticket would’ve been €2.10). LPaul texted me shortly after I’d got on and told me that the City-Ticket is not enough, but don’t worry – they never check it.
Went to Laura’s and checked it out, met LPaul (potentially Marwood’s) housemate, Danijel, a Croatian descent, German-speaking homosexual who’s in a relationship with an Arab (v jealous of that relationship). LPaul and Danijel (this is confusing, right?) were loads of fun and I’m quite the jeloza of Marwood’s potential house-sitch.
Anyway, cleared up some questions I had about Germany with them, including what S-Bahn ticket gets me where in HeideB. Apparently City Ticket only counts for as far as Südstadt – Rheinstrasse is a few stops beyond the Südstadt-Bhf.
So I went back to the Rheinstrasse place and sat down.. Couple of people got on the tram waiting for me and then another woman sat next to me. Probably late 20s, maybe early 30s. We got chatting about something I care not to explain. In German. Only nice short sentences, but was fun anyway. Tram arrives, Einstieg.
Anyway, the S-Bahn trundled past Südstadt and I noticed a sign which said, “Rote Karte für Schwarzfahrer” (loosely, red card for fare-dodgers – penalty €40). Spoke to Laura on the phone – so the woman who was waiting with me on the station heard me speaking fluent English.
Then, I noticed that there were guys on the train checking tickets and I thought, “shit. I hope they didn’t see that I was already on before Südstadt..” I also knew that I hadn’t popped my ticket into the stamping machine, which is what you’re supposed to do when you get on board (entwertet). Anyway, they got to me (in the mean time, I had thought about jumping ship), and he said to me (from this point on, I need to make clear what’s in German and what’s in English. German is marked (G) and English (E)), “(G) Why didn’t you stamp your ticket when you got on board?”, me: “(E) I’m sorry, I don’t speak German, what?” He turned to the woman and said, “(G) Do you speak English? Do you know him?” she, “(G) Yeah, I speak German.. We spoke at the stop.” He, “(G) Tell him he has to stamp the ticket in the machines on board when he gets on, otherwise he has to pay €40”. He continued, “(G) and tell him he owes you a big ice-cream, cause without you he’d have to pay €40.” He then turned away to talk to someone else, taking my ticket with him. She turned to me and started explaining this to me. I whispered at her, “(G) I understood” and gave her a big smile. She looked really confused, but smiled back at me. So I was safe.
We got off the train – she before me – and I walked up to her and I said, “(G) Looks like I owe you a big ice-cream?” And she said, “(G) I really thought you were German! Then I heard you speaking on the phone in English – like a native speaker – and I got really confused… I thought to myself, ‘How can he speak such good German?’!” Me, “(G) No, I am English. I just speak some German.” Then we started to walk away and she stopped me again and asked, “(G) Are you really English?”.
Best feeling ever.
Seriously.
Today also: did lots of knitting with Veronika and had more bant with her. We spoke about homosexuality and cultural transfers, her boyfriend in England and her fears about getting tied down, ate in Pizza Hut (I was a massive fatty).
PS: remember “orite nommo.”

One of the most amazing things happened to me today. Definitely a confidence boost. I was on such a high afterwards.

I was due to go and look at Laura’s house today (this is going to get confusing cause there were two Lauras… Laura Marwood, my friend from England, and Laura Paul, the girl who’s Zwischenmiete-ing her room). So LPaul texted me asking whether we could rearrange for me to go see her flat. So I did. Got on the S-bahn and texted her just beforehand to ask which type of ticket I should get. I knew “City-Ticket” would get me some of the way, but wasn’t sure whether Rheinstrasse was out of the “City” zone. Anyway, I bought the City-Ticket for €1 (the other ticket would’ve been €2.10). LPaul texted me shortly after I’d got on and told me that the City-Ticket is not enough, but don’t worry – they never check it.

Went to Laura’s and checked it out, met LPaul (potentially Marwood’s) housemate, Danijel, a Croatian descent, German-speaking homosexual who’s in a relationship with an Arab (v jealous of that relationship). LPaul and Danijel (this is confusing, right?) were loads of fun and I’m quite the jeloza of Marwood’s potential house-sitch.

Anyway, cleared up some questions I had about Germany with them, including what S-Bahn ticket gets me where in HeideB. Apparently City Ticket only counts for as far as Südstadt – Rheinstrasse is a few stops beyond the Südstadt-Bhf.

So I went back to the Rheinstrasse place and sat down.. Couple of people got on the tram waiting for me and then another woman sat next to me. Probably late 20s, maybe early 30s. We got chatting about something I care not to explain. In German. Only nice short sentences, but was fun anyway. Tram arrives, Einstieg.

Anyway, the S-Bahn trundled past Südstadt and I noticed a sign which said, “Rote Karte für Schwarzfahrer” (loosely, red card for fare-dodgers – penalty €40). Spoke to Laura on the phone – so the woman who was waiting with me on the station heard me speaking fluent English.

Then, I noticed that there were guys on the train checking tickets and I thought, “shit. I hope they didn’t see that I was already on before Südstadt..” I also knew that I hadn’t popped my ticket into the stamping machine, which is what you’re supposed to do when you get on board (entwertet). Anyway, they got to me (in the mean time, I had thought about jumping ship), and he said to me (from this point on, I need to make clear what’s in German and what’s in English. German is marked (G) and English (E)), “(G) Why didn’t you stamp your ticket when you got on board?”, me: “(E) I’m sorry, I don’t speak German, what?” He turned to the woman and said, “(G) Do you speak English? Do you know him?” she, “(G) Yeah, I speak English.. We spoke at the stop.” He, “(G) Tell him he has to stamp the ticket in the machines on board when he gets on, otherwise he has to pay €40”. He continued, “(G) and tell him he owes you a big ice-cream, cause without you he’d have to pay €40.” He then turned away to talk to someone else, taking my ticket with him. She turned to me and started explaining this to me. I whispered at her, “(G) I understood” and gave her a big smile. She looked really confused, but smiled back at me. So I was safe.

We got off the train – she before me – and I walked up to her and I said, “(G) Looks like I owe you a big ice-cream?” And she said, “(G) I really thought you were German! Then I heard you speaking on the phone in English – like a native speaker – and I got really confused… I thought to myself, ‘How can he speak such good German?’!” Me, “(G) No, I am English. I just speak some German.” Then we started to walk away and she stopped me again and asked, “(G) Are you really English?”.

Best feeling ever.

Seriously.

Today also: did lots of knitting with Veronika and had more bant with her. We spoke about homosexuality and cultural transfers, her boyfriend in England and her fears about getting tied down, ate in Pizza Hut (I was a massive fatty).

PS: remember “orite nommo.”

Remember ENERJOY?

August 14, 2009

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Remember ENERJOY?
I’m going to have to go on a grand tour of Heidelberg to document all of the pictures that are supposed to go with these entries. But then I don’t want to look like a massive tourist. I saw a t-shirt today on which was printed (in English), “I’m not a tourist // I live here”. I so wanted to get it, but thought it might be a bit too standard. I’m gonna go get it tomorrow.
So I spent the whole day with the Rajpars. We went up the Hauptstrasse to the v end and then jumped on the fernicula to the castle. There are three stops (first one’s castle, another view point then a change and a really high viewpoint) and we started at the top and worked down. By the time we got to the castle itself, we were all pretty jiggered and the sun was beaming quite heavily by this point. We slowed and wandered and it was lovely. Heidelberg’s a really beautiful city and I am mega lucky.
On the way back, we dropped Jaffer to do some girly shopping. There are some really cutting-edge clothes shops on the high street and we went in some. Seems chunky and interestingly shaped knitwear is coming back in this fall, so I’m gunna make something dashing for someone fabby. Fay tried on this big cowl thing, which was huge chunky and had a v deep hood. It was blue and I loved it all over.
We went into the wool shop on the high street. They sell a lot of the same kinda stuff there, but I might have a bit of a better nosey when I get a bit more confident. Although, I’m not sure how that’s ever going to happen, considering I’m only good at being an out male knitter once I’ve got to know the staff and getting to know staff in a foreign language, when they’re already apprehensive of you as a male in a wool shop is going to be difficult. She pointedly asked me whether she could help me as I was inspecting her fine cotton yarns. Bitch.
Then we went for more shopping and a big cup of (thank-god, decent) tea in a lovely place just across the road from me. The waitress was beautiful and Safiya made me tell her that she thought she was beautiful. Which I did. But she spoke to us in English after I’d (later) asked her whether asking for milk (instead of Kaffeesahne) with tea was weird here. So I replied to her in German again. I hate it when people do that.
Then came an adventure on the S-bahn and taxi systems of Heidelberg. We decided we go back to the Rajs’ hotel for a hors d’oeuvres (all letters pronounced hard and obviously). I made them a deal, saying I’d only do this if we went back there on the tram (s-bahn). So off we trundled to Bismarkplatz and bought ourselves (later realised, the wrong) tickets. I asked a woman sitting nearby – who turned out to be v smiley – which train we’d need for the Mariott hotel. She said, the 5 or the 2. So we jumped on. Safiya and Fay were convinced we were going in the wrong direction after we hit a few stops, so we jumped off outside the Hauptbahnhof. I was using all the very best of my mappish (and that means limited in this context) knowledge of Heidelberg to work out which direction we needed to be in (west, was the answer). We’d come west already on the train, but the Raj-women were so sure we were wrong, that I had to believe them. So we jumped into a taxi outside the Hbf.
Taxi driver started cheering to the others, “Mariott, Mariott!” and told me it was only a 5-10m walk from where we’d picked up (yes, Raj-women, I was right..). He’d had a bet with the other drivers that we were going to Frankfurt or something. I didn’t really get it. But anyway. He was from Iraq and spoke Kurdish and a few words of Arabic, along with very poorly grammarised German, which made me feel loads better. He didn’t speak any English at us, so I was v interpretery. It was yum. We arrived, we ate horse-durvs, saw Arabs, broke a mug, watched some German MTV and cartoons and then I left.
To be stood on the Betriebshof S-bahn station for 30 minutes, while I waited for the number 22 to take me back to B’markpltz. A bus (not sure whether buses and s-bahns are entirely interchangable, but they seem to be), numbered 35, stopped and then left and I realised moments later that I could’ve got on that one, with my €1 City-Ticket (pronounced in the accent the Germans have when they say English words (Cash Group. lol.)). So that was my first adventure on the s-bahn. I saw an advert “ENERJOY” on the way back on the side of a buidling. This is the title word.
So that was the first time I rode the s-bahn all by myself. Enbiggening, as Lisa S and Jane Ganners would say.
Other stuff that happened: ate first pretzel (nomnom), failed at returning a bottle via pfand, failed at looking at a house on Turnerstrasse for Marwood, failed at remaining anonymous on StudiVZ (akin to Facebook, but for Germans).
That’s all.

I’m going to have to go on a grand tour of Heidelberg to document all of the pictures that are supposed to go with these entries. But then I don’t want to look like a massive tourist. I saw a t-shirt today on which was printed (in English), “I’m not a tourist // I live here”. I so wanted to get it, but thought it might be a bit too standard. I’m gonna go get it tomorrow.

So I spent the whole day with the Rajpars. We went up the Hauptstrasse to the v end and then jumped on the fernicula to the castle. There are three stops (first one’s castle, another view point then a change and a really high viewpoint) and we started at the top and worked down. By the time we got to the castle itself, we were all pretty jiggered and the sun was beaming quite heavily by this point. We slowed and wandered and it was lovely. Heidelberg’s a really beautiful city and I am mega lucky.

On the way back, we dropped Jaffer to do some girly shopping. There are some really cutting-edge clothes shops on the high street and we went in some. Seems chunky and interestingly shaped knitwear is coming back in this fall, so I’m gunna make something dashing for someone fabby. Fay tried on this big cowl thing, which was huge chunky and had a v deep hood. It was blue and I loved it all over.

We went into the wool shop on the high street. They sell a lot of the same kinda stuff there, but I might have a bit of a better nosey when I get a bit more confident. Although, I’m not sure how that’s ever going to happen, considering I’m only good at being an out male knitter once I’ve got to know the staff and getting to know staff in a foreign language, when they’re already apprehensive of you as a male in a wool shop is going to be difficult. She pointedly asked me whether she could help me as I was inspecting her fine cotton yarns. Bitch.

Then we went for more shopping and a big cup of (thank-god, decent) tea in a lovely place just across the road from me. The waitress was beautiful and Safiya made me tell her that she thought she was beautiful. Which I did. But she spoke to us in English after I’d (later) asked her whether asking for milk (instead of Kaffeesahne) with tea was weird here. So I replied to her in German again. I hate it when people do that.

Then came an adventure on the S-bahn and taxi systems of Heidelberg. We decided we go back to the Rajs’ hotel for a hors d’oeuvres (all letters pronounced hard and obviously). I made them a deal, saying I’d only do this if we went back there on the tram (s-bahn). So off we trundled to Bismarkplatz and bought ourselves (later realised, the wrong) tickets. I asked a woman sitting nearby – who turned out to be v smiley – which train we’d need for the Mariott hotel. She said, the 5 or the 2. So we jumped on. Safiya and Fay were convinced we were going in the wrong direction after we hit a few stops, so we jumped off outside the Hauptbahnhof. I was using all the very best of my mappish (and that means limited in this context) knowledge of Heidelberg to work out which direction we needed to be in (west, was the answer). We’d come west already on the train, but the Raj-women were so sure we were wrong, that I had to believe them. So we jumped into a taxi outside the Hbf.

Taxi driver started cheering to the others, “Mariott, Mariott!” and told me it was only a 5-10m walk from where we’d picked up (yes, Raj-women, I was right..). He’d had a bet with the other drivers that we were going to Frankfurt or something. I didn’t really get it. But anyway. He was from Iraq and spoke Kurdish and a few words of Arabic, along with very poorly grammarised German, which made me feel loads better. He didn’t speak any English at us, so I was v interpretery. It was yum. We arrived, we ate horse-durvs, saw Arabs, broke a mug, watched some German MTV and cartoons and then I left.

To be stood on the Betriebshof S-bahn station for 30 minutes, while I waited for the number 22 to take me back to B’markpltz. A bus (not sure whether buses and s-bahns are entirely interchangable, but they seem to be), numbered 35, stopped and then left and I realised moments later that I could’ve got on that one, with my €1 City-Ticket (pronounced in the accent the Germans have when they say English words (Cash Group. lol.)). So that was my first adventure on the s-bahn. I saw an advert “ENERJOY” on the way back on the side of a buidling. This is the title word.

So that was the first time I rode the s-bahn all by myself. Enbiggening, as Lisa S and Jane Ganners would say.

Other stuff that happened: ate first pretzel (nomnom), failed at returning a bottle via pfand, failed at looking at a house on Turnerstrasse for Marwood, failed at remaining anonymous on StudiVZ (akin to Facebook, but for Germans).

That’s all.

Remember 5. Stock, Kaufhof?

August 13, 2009

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Family Rajpar made my year today.
The last leg of Safiya and Jaffer’s round-the-world tour was in Heidelberg and, ages ago, we provisionally made plans that I meet up with the pair of them, if I was here by that point. So, Safiya texted me this morning to tell me they were on their way to Heidelberg from the airport. Fay then texted me to ask whether I’d heard from Safiya about them coming to HD yet. I replied to them both, then, a little while later Safiya called me to ask whereabouts I was and whether I’d be able to jump up and meet her and Jaffer. I told her I would, and that she should ring me when they get into the city centre.
Safiya rang me and told me she was outside Kaufhof. I told her to wait inside because of the rain and put on suitable shoes and went down.
Got there, and Safiya beemed up in beautiful smile and I ran up to her and gave her a big hug. I congratulated her on being my first visitor and we started chatting. When we finally made it up to the 5th floor, where I’d been told Jaffer had sat down to get a cup of coffee sorted for us 3, Safiya pointed into the coffee place (I was mid story, so looking at her, and not ahead) and there stood Fay! It was so amazing!! We made a massive dramatic scene and hugged loads. I couldn’t believe it! I’m so far out in Heidelberg.. So far away from everyone else and yet there was Fay! Odd thing was, I was thinking today about how close we’re all going to be in 4th year and how it was true that I’d made some really, really close friends in Durham.
So we sat down and had a cup of substandard tea each, after Jaffer had mounted a round-Heidelberg trek alone. After Fay and I returned to the table, having collected said tea, Safiya presented me with a white bag with gifts from America in. I was so embarrassed at being showered so lovingly with gifts. Safiya had mentioned in our email correspondance that she wanted to bring me stuff back from America and had asked what I wanted. I didn’t dodge the question, so much as completely forgot to address it. So, apparently, she’d asked Fay what kinds of things I liked.
So on opening this bag to discover a white polo-shirt with red horizontal stripes, countless loudly striped colourful sox (ideal for mis-matching), a Berlin Phil and Karajan recording of Sib 2, Finlandia and the Swan of Tuonela, I was infinately joyed. But the best was yet to come. Inside the bag with the CD in were two karas. I’ve been after a kara ever since I lost mine in first year and to be able to wear one again is such a fantastic feeling. I was – still am – so, so amazed with how attentive Fay is to the small things I say. She’s such a fantastic friend and I love her so, so dearly.
We went to a Thai restaurant, ate well and learnt the word for chopsticks (Stäbchen).
Add wool, add ease of exploration

Family Rajpar made my year today.

The last leg of Safiya and Jaffer’s round-the-world tour was in Heidelberg and, ages ago, we provisionally made plans that I meet up with the pair of them, if I was here by that point. So, Safiya texted me this morning to tell me they were on their way to Heidelberg from the airport. Fay then texted me to ask whether I’d heard from Safiya about them coming to HD yet. I replied to them both, then, a little while later Safiya called me to ask whereabouts I was and whether I’d be able to jump up and meet her and Jaffer. I told her I would, and that she should ring me when they get into the city centre.

Safiya rang me and told me she was outside Kaufhof. I told her to wait inside because of the rain and put on suitable shoes and went down.

Got there, and Safiya beemed up in beautiful smile and I ran up to her and gave her a big hug. I congratulated her on being my first visitor and we started chatting. When we finally made it up to the 5th floor, where I’d been told Jaffer had sat down to get a cup of coffee sorted for us 3, Safiya pointed into the coffee place (I was mid story, so looking at her, and not ahead) and there stood Fay! It was so amazing!! We made a massive dramatic scene and hugged loads. I couldn’t believe it! I’m so far out in Heidelberg.. So far away from everyone else and yet there was Fay! Odd thing was, I was thinking today about how close we’re all going to be in 4th year and how it was true that I’d made some really, really close friends in Durham.

So we sat down and had a cup of substandard tea each, after Jaffer had mounted a round-Heidelberg trek alone. After Fay and I returned to the table, having collected said tea, Safiya presented me with a white bag with gifts from America in. I was so embarrassed at being showered so lovingly with gifts. Safiya had mentioned in our email correspondance that she wanted to bring me stuff back from America and had asked what I wanted. I didn’t dodge the question, so much as completely forgot to address it. So, apparently, she’d asked Fay what kinds of things I liked.

So on opening this bag to discover a white polo-shirt with red horizontal stripes, countless loudly striped colourful sox (ideal for mis-matching), a Berlin Phil and Karajan recording of Sib 2, Finlandia and the Swan of Tuonela, I was infinately joyed. But the best was yet to come. Inside the bag with the CD in were two karas. I’ve been after a kara ever since I lost mine in first year and to be able to wear one again is such a fantastic feeling. I was – still am – so, so amazed with how attentive Fay is to the small things I say. She’s such a fantastic friend and I love her so, so dearly.

We went to a Thai restaurant, ate well and learnt the word for chopsticks (Stäbchen).

Add wool, add ease of exploration

Remember Stormy?

August 10, 2009

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Day one in Heidelberg.
Today was the first of something. I left emotional – normally emotionally-stagnant – father at Birmingham airport, 1.30pm GMT, and arrived, sweaty and unsavoury, in Frankfurt am Main airport, about 2 hours later. Having been steeped in some easy-listening German theological discussions (… not) on the plane, jumping straight into German when I saw Janni was no biggy. In fact, I found it quite easy to get into the German swing once I’d started. She said I spoke very well and I thanked.
Arrived at Akademiestraße 2a at about 7.15pm Euro-time. Saw Ansgar and Helena and met them. Some German bant – all good, all good. They gave me the know-hows and showed me the bottoms of the ropes. I still have lots of questions. Which is why I’m sitting here writing this, instead of socialising with my German HOUSEMATES (eeee!). I can’t work the internet, in short. Helena showed me the internet file (a green ring-binder with lots of in-German handbooks and know-hows), in which there is a page with a long WLAN-key on. I switched my WLAN button on and pressed a few buttons, but can’t work out what to do. So I sat around a bit, hoping Helena would come out of her room. Ansgar, at this point, listening to some mainstream rubbish in his room (did I mention he has posters of the sky (stars n shit) on his wall? Nope). He’s on the phone now. It’s hard not to eavesdrop and see how much I understand. But I’m doing admirably. He just said, “tax?!” Lolz.
So, I decided that I’d shower, still sweaty and equally smelly from all the train jumping and through-airport rushing. Shower holder broken. Have to hold shower head with hand and hold above head. But – again – no biggy. I’m in Germany! Nothing’s a biggy. Fucking. Nothing.
Then, got out of shower. Dried self in the shower-room – bathroom and toilet separate affairs – so as not to offend anybody with my new-to-you,-thank-you-very-much nakedness. Got changed into PJs and returned roomwards. Got into my room and heard a big rumble of thunder. Texted Jenny to explain my internet predicament. She wants me to go ask Helena (door-shut-Helena). So should, but don’t know the words. Went to sit by the window and started to see beautifully perfect forks of lightning, followed every few seconds by a big German grumble of German thunder. Started getting all excited about the beginnings of something lovely. Took photos. Wrote this.
End.

Day one in Heidelberg.

Today was the first of something. I left emotional – normally emotionally-stagnant – father at Birmingham airport, 1.30pm GMT, and arrived, sweaty and unsavoury, in Frankfurt am Main airport, about 2 hours later. Having been steeped in some easy-listening German theological discussions (… not) on the plane, jumping straight into German when I saw Janni was no biggy. In fact, I found it quite easy to get into the German swing once I’d started. She said I spoke very well and I thanked.

Arrived at Akademiestraße 2a at about 7.15pm Euro-time. Saw Ansgar and Helena and met them. Some German bant – all good, all good. They gave me the know-hows and showed me the bottoms of the ropes. I still have lots of questions. Which is why I’m sitting here writing this, instead of socialising with my German HOUSEMATES (eeee!). I can’t work the internet, in short. Helena showed me the internet file (a green ring-binder with lots of in-German handbooks and know-hows), in which there is a page with a long WLAN-key on. I switched my WLAN button on and pressed a few buttons, but can’t work out what to do. So I sat around a bit, hoping Helena would come out of her room. Ansgar, at this point, listening to some mainstream rubbish in his room. He’s on the phone now. It’s hard not to eavesdrop and see how much I understand. But I’m doing admirably. He just said, “tax?!” Lolz.

So, I decided that I’d shower, still sweaty and equally smelly from all the train jumping and through-airport rushing. Shower holder broken. Have to hold shower head with hand and hold above head. But – again – no biggy. I’m in Germany! Nothing’s a biggy. Fucking. Nothing.

Then, got out of shower. Dried self in the shower-room – bathroom and toilet separate affairs – so as not to offend anybody with my new-to-you,-thank-you-very-much nakedness. Got changed into PJs and returned roomwards. Got into my room and heard a big rumble of thunder. Texted Jenny to explain my internet predicament. She wants me to go ask Helena (door-shut). So should, but don’t know the words. Went to sit by the window and started to see beautifully perfect forks of lightning, followed every few seconds by a big German grumble of German thunder. Started getting all excited about the beginnings of something lovely. Took photos. Wrote this.

End.