Archive for the ‘travulz’ Category

Riding trams in Kraków

August 5, 2010

By now, I’ve worked out which number trams go to and from Bronowice Małe, which is where I live. I’ve also figured out – today, in fact – that the 13 is best for me and stops right outside school.

Secondary options include the 8 and then the 4, in order of pragmatics.

But that’s not what I’m writing about.

What I’m writing about is what I see on the tram as I ride into and out of town. My eyes flick every which way when I’m on the tram and I spend between half a second and up to 2-3 seconds looking at something before my eyes flick away.

That, compared with the speed of the tram, makes for very interesting observations of the Cracovians. Like today, my eyes flicked onto a girl standing just in front of a lamppost and very near the road. She was holding an old grey mobile and, just as my eyes clapped onto her, she threw up her hands (only from the wrists, mind) in exasperation and furrowed her brow (I just wrote “burrowed her frow” and couldn’t work out what was wrong with it). That made me smile.

A little later, I clapped eyes onto a woman who was crossing the road. Behind her (the tram stopped here, so I had time to watch her walk away too) chased a girl in a green uniform. She reached the woman and gave her a piece of paper she was holding. The woman had lots of shopping in her hands, so she just took it in her hands with her. I assume what she said was “dziękuję” (thank you) and she carried on walking. The girl in green then turned back and jogged back into the shop where she assumedly works.

I see a lot of things like that – small interactions either with one’s own consciousness or the surroundings or with someone else in that fraction of a second that I’m sitting on the tram and looking at these people. I can’t remember them all now, but that’s not the point.

If I were any better and recording moments like this in film (or even in photograph), I’d make a short little tram-ride-length feature about it.

FYI, my tram-ride-length is currently 40-50 minutes. And that’s annoying.

Remember your last night in Heidelberg (again)?

July 31, 2010

This is the last entry.

This is the end of the year abroad blog, because the year abroad’s over.

That’s not strictly true – I’m going to continue writing until I get back to England, but this is the end of another chapter, when I started writing, this point, which then still seemed so far away in the future (and in Syria…), was the final one.

Tonight’s my last night in this flat. In this town. In this wonderful experience. I have loved it. I have pushed myself harder than I’ve realised and I have grown in ways I wanted to and in ways I wasn’t expecting. My German’s come on leaps and bounds and for the first time ever, I think I’m happy with it. I’ve learnt to ride a bike! I’ve learnt more about people and more about friendships by having some of the fastest developing and closest ones I’ve ever had.

Compared to everyone else, I feel quite lucky. I’m not that sad to leave. I’ve done it once and it’s not so bad. And because of that attitude I had back then, that I wasn’t coming back to Heidelberg, I can now leave the place pretty easy.

But that’s probably as false as it is true or something. I’m going to miss German so much. That’s the one thing I’m going to miss about being here most, abstract thing or physical thing. Of course, I’m going to miss all the friends I’ve made here (some of whom I’m going to be seeing super soon again in Old Blighty!). Ugh, I don’t know.

That’s the end of what I’ve got, but I thought I should document something.

I’d like it to be made known to my readers that the writer of this blog is disappointed with it. So many wonderful things have occurred to me that would’ve made good blog posts back then but I never got around to writing them out. So it’s a failure in its single purpose: to remind me of things I’ve thought and experienced while I was here/in Syria/in Poland.

Having said that, it’s definitely added to the whole experience and been a nice platform to write things down. Which leads me tentatively into the following…

I’ve been looking at my German phone all day and thinking about that time when I turn it off for the very last time (not that dramatic, but still) and I’ve had an idea in my head from a while ago which I think I will end up doing, despite the reasons that were gathering against it. And that is to write out all the names of the numbers of people I’ve gathered, as a register of all the people I ran into enough to exchange numbers with. Going through this is going to be a waltz in memory lane of course and for most of you just an alphabetical list of names, but for those of you who know the others, I’m hoping it’ll be of some value.

Adelaide
Akademie 2a
Alice Parisienne
Alt Hendesse
Aminata
Ana Bos
Anne Bochow
Annika Jap
Ansgar
Becca
Büro im Theater
Carolin
Corinne
Cornelia
Craig Braid
Cynthie
Cynti
Danijel
Danica
Domi
Donna
Doris
Doris Horn
Emir
Eva
Eva From Work
Fabian
Florence
Frank
Franzi
Hans Swede
Heather
Helena
Janine
Julie Knitter
Julia From Work
Kenny
Kim Posaune
Konsti
Kristin
Laura Paul
Laura Spanish
Laura’s WG
Laura from Work
Lea
Lynne Irish
Marwood
Maz
Michelle
Michael Stimmfüh
Nadine
Naida
Nan
Patrick
Sabine
Sam Huneke
Sarah Marks
Sarah Austin
Sarah Jackson
Shiva
Sima
Soizic
Sophia Stavros
Sophie Francis
Stefanie D
Susi from Work
Sven
Tobias Hoth
Tobi Dirigent
Torben
Ulrike
Veronika Allmen
Vernika von Pat

So yeah what, it’s just a list of names, but it’s a catharsis for me and you can shove it.

Germany’s good, bad and ugly

July 25, 2010

They say you never stop learning when you learn a language. Mostly, one assumes that means with the language and that’s certainly true (mostly because it’s almost impossible to keep up to speed with any language and its developments, especially if it’s not your first language), but the cultural qualities of the natives of the language you’re learning are also up for grabs.

I’m not new to this language and yet I’m still surprised by people here a lot.

Today has been a wonderful, wonderful day and also a very, very irritating day; people have shown great kindness and great misunderstanding, great patience and great hugs.

I’ll go chronologically.

Today was the day I travelled to Cologne to meet Polly, who’s doing an internship in Brussels, so we met in the middle(-ish). Germany has a great institution called “Mitfahrgelegenheit,” which is a website where people post times and dates of their cross-country car trips, in the hope that other people going in that direction will jump aboard and help pay for petrol costs. It’s bloody brilliant if you ask me and very well loved among most of the people I know here – almost everyone’s done a “Mitfahr.”

I managed, however, to wake up to calls of my Mitfahrgelegenheit (MFG) driver telling me that she was there waiting for me. I wasn’t ready. She (yes, a female one! Unusual) told me she still had to pick up two others at the main train station and that she’d come back to town to collect me.

I dashed out of the house, unshowered and un-face-washed (for the second time this week) and jumped on Doris’ old bike, which I’m loaning from her at the minute, and darted down the deserted Hauptstrasse in the rain. I locked the bike up and made it just in time to meet them there, whereupon I apologise profusely, then spent the rest of the journey wondering whether I could start a sister company of MFG in England and whether it’d be successful /slash/ sleeping.

I arrived later in Köln and met with Polly. We caught up and did some of the boring shops, stopping to buy a wild peach – they look like they’ve been squashed and are wonderful juicy. We then threw the stones of these into the river and bought ourselves 3 hours of bike hire from a jolly chap behind us. He drew us up a route on map and we proceeded to take it. On this bike ride, we also encountered bloody loads of goths. All I can hope for is that there was a convention of some kind in Cologne that day – otherwise it just makes Germany seem even more weird.

Biking with gears is a whole new territory, but let me tell you, ladies and gents, I am a convert.

We went for lunch in a restaurant just over the bridge where all the padlocks are locked onto. Here, my first head-on collision with customer service came to blows and I had to complain in German. I didn’t realise that I hadn’t complained anywhere in German until this happened. I don’t really want to go into massive details because it’s almost irrelevant, but the point is that one of the waitress, who, to be fair, wasn’t our waitress, was not willing to accept a question I was to ask, before I’d even got around to asking it. She then decided that we’d had a ‘misunderstanding’ (I got pretty angry with her and may have even shouted at her, I forget). Polly and I decided that we weren’t being spoken to like this (considering the other waitress had been pretty rude and cold with us previously) and went to leave. On our way out, we saw our waitress and I told her we were leaving and that we wanted to pay for the drinks we’d already had.

Things got put down and managers fetched. My knees were shaking and my German surprisingly good considering the fact that a) I’m not used to using the polite form of “you” almost every and b) I was having to hold my ground in a language that wasn’t my own and translate all the gossipy bits to Pol (mainly to ask for advice of how to react).

The food arrived and we ate it.

Mine had prawns in it, even though I was fairly sure I’d asked the original waitress (so, ours, not the one who was later rude to me) whether it was vegetarian, but I didn’t want to get into anymore of that.

Polly and I, suffering from a ruined conversational flow by this, left the restaurant, tipping as minimally as we could and being sent off by the original, this time very polite waitress who had changed her tune (and, according to the manager, had been crying – I mean… come on). We decided a big hug and a high-five was in order and that we weren’t going to let it ruin our day.

Hopped on the bikes and rode into the masses of people around the cathedral. Some beautiful side-wards images of Polly in my mind’s eye from that moment – she looked really lovely and it was great fun to do something like that with her (even if crossing the bridge together on the bikes was as scary as all hell).

Once we’d arrived back at the bike-man’s hut, with 40 minutes to go, he told us to go north and look at the new harbour, so Pol and I cycled along the side of the Rhein, me feeling very much like this was some epitomic moment for a German student, not sure how Polly was viewing it.

During this event, Sophia called me on my German mobile and told me that she’d just spoken to a woman who had my house keys and my phone (and my jacket). Turns out, the thing had dropped off the back of my bike and this woman had called the last person I’d called from my mobile. Much complicateds, but we ended up racing back to Cologne’s chocolate museum (which we didn’t go into!?) and picking it up. I thanked her profusely too and was reminded of this morning, when I dicked over my MFG driver (in-joke with self lol).

Pol and I were pretty tired from the 3-hour biking event by this point so we walked back into town and had some cake. I was jealous of Polly’s walnut and caramel cake – so much so, that the fact I was eating a germanified version of a Vienetta made no recompense.

We then struggled with all sorts of train administration bodies and their bureaucratic opening and closing times and went home.

On arriving home, I realised how well I was doing to still have the energy to do anything of use, considering I’d slept for so few hours, been out to the pub to play “Who am I?” (I was the Demon Headmaster; the day before I was the “Queen of England town”) with team ERASMUS and Maz’s visiting friend Suz, AND biked around Cologne for 3 hours…

I still managed to drag myself to awful, awful Penny for the standard Saturday-night emergency buy event (I cannot WAIT for shops to have some – just SOME – opening hours on Sundays when I get back). This scene is where the last event for the day comes into play: I dropped some money at the check-out and the guy behind me turned to me and told me that I was losing my money. I bent down, picked it up and looked him in the face to thank him. He obviously didn’t think it was a big deal and made no eye contact. Aaah, Germans.

So all in all, boys and girls, you should feel proud in the fact that I haven’t stopped learning. In the language and around the language and how it all adds up.

Today’s been one of those times where I’ve really missed some things about England and I did find myself thinking that I can’t wait to be away from this whole German mentality in the general public.

Other things that have happened recently: saw the most amazing thunderstorm I’ve ever seen in my entire life and had a very strong religious experience as a result, been surprised at who I am and that I’m in this body and stuff (hard to explain, but I sort of feel like I’ve dropped into this body somehow and all these faculties and stories are just there – it’s like I was carrying about 8 ropes and had dropped them and come back in, picked them all up and carried on knotting them), massively, massively neglected my blog – I still need to write about the fact that I’ve learnt to ride a bike in Germany. Finished orchestra (again). Started an administratively hellish search for someone to take over my room next week. Booked a language course and the associated travel and accommodation in Kraków, Poland (next adventure!).  Massively started looking forward to three things coming up in my future: 1) Poland, 2) September, being home, seeing boyfriend, seeing family and finally sleeping properly and 3) Durham. Moved into the last week of my internship, only 2 days to go now.

Too much for me to remember now and this entry has to be posted today otherwise it loses all meaning.

Remember leaving Syria and dropping Arabic?

April 20, 2010

Here it is. Long-awaited and standing weakly in the shadows of its readers’ expectations.

Many of you have asked for this entry and for the reasons for my rumoured return to the UK.

So yes, Ladies and Gents, I can confirm I have left Syria for cooler climes and am currently in another in-between stage, at home in the UK. This state, however, won’t last for long, considering I have to get back to Germany for reasons I’ll document at the end of this.

A lot of people I’ve told about this have been surprise to hear it, particularly because of the way I am known to rant on about Arabic and its grammar for hours at a time unless meantime interrupted. Yes – it is a shock.

Please know, however, that it is not because I didn’t like Syria. I liked Syria and Damascus a great deal and my life there was very good. It was wonderful to be near Fay again and see all the other Durham faces I’d missed; I had started getting to be friends with Fay’s Syrian friends, which would’ve solicited much Arabic-speaking conversation, later in my stay and the family I was staying with were very, very lovely (thanks, Yansé, for helping me find them – even if I did steal).

“But why then?!” You may be shouting. Ok.

When I left Newark, on the train at the beginning of March, on my way to Heathrow to begin my Syrian adventure, I was surprisingly emotional. I think I wrote about this already, but I cried like a small child, all over my parents and my brother. I was shocked by the emotional reaction that had spurred in me, because I’d expected the change of scenery and my want to learn Arabic would override and make me super excited, let alone the fact that I’d soon be seeing Fay. I put all of this worrying about my own emotional reaction under a beautifully woven Syrian rug when I got there.

I moved in and I started my course, having spent a week settling in and finding my way around the Old City. The course started and I was surprised by how well-written it was. But something was wrong with me. And not just that I couldn’t be bothered to work. I know that feeling – that “ugh, I spend my whole life doing this, break pleez” feeling. It wasn’t that.

At this point, I should probably let it be known that this is a super, super hard thing to describe. The thought-processes I have about the entire thing are really complicated and affected by loads and loads of things, including tiny reasons that don’t have any bearing, but tapped on the fragile icy surfaces of the whole problem and, in their small insignificant way, but larger number, the cracked the ice and I feel through into the water.

Basically, I realised that the problem was I didn’t actually like Arabic. I am constantly fascinated by how it works – how the whole semitic tree of languages can work, the way three letters, interspersed by other letters of a seemingly lower level of hierarchy can fit together to make meaningful stuff – the way all of these families of words were linked by these three letters that, like a skeleton, filtered down through the tree and held it all together in a sensical block of semanticism in my head.

Fascinated, I say. Fascinated by it – that’s true. But not enough. I realised that the only thing I liked about Arabic was that. I was constantly looking up words in the Hans Wehr (which is a canonical tool of Arabic study for non-native learners of the language, having rearranged the ‘alphabet’ (and with it the structure of the dictionary) into a way that more suits the nature of the language in the first place) and looking down the root forms to find out what it meant and looking how the meaning changed in one form or the other. But the word itself I didn’t care about. The one word that I constantly looked up and where this was particularly prevalent for me was the root ع ق د. The fact that I don’t know what it means know is testament to what I’m saying, but it was one of those words which would have lots and lots of meanings in lots of different forms (sometimes very, very drastically to ‘earlier’ forms of the word) [ps: I realise all of these words are super Arabic-language related and not that comprehensible, but you don’t really have to understand it – just know that there are lots of forms based on individual ‘root’ letters in Arabic – the interested can go to Wikipedia and find out there (it’s a trait known to all ‘Semitic’ languages (and what also gives them their name))].

So this latent not-like in me lead me to think: well, I’m here now and having Arabic would be a fantastic + on my degree: stick it out. And that’s a sensible thing to think or advise. But it too has its counter argument. I realised that I was there, in that place, grappling with a language that is difficult for someone coming from a language so distantly related (it made me realise how wonderful it is coming to another European language, because the similarities really do help), wanting eventually to be near fluent in the language. That’s what I’d need and… perfectionist me… wouldn’t let it be any other way. It was a case of, “you either get amazing at this language and become a complete Arabicophile, or you stop.” And I wanted to be amazing; I really did. But not liking the language enough played a deciding factor in that.

Not liking it would lead to me not being motivated enough really to get to grips with the things that I couldn’t do and not having a tingle in my heart when I read Arabic sentences meant not really learning them. Sure, I’m using my experience of learning German as a benchmark and I know I shouldn’t, but on the other hand, I sort of can. I am so lucky to have found a language that really sparks with me in a way that means I’m very rarely sick of it – even among other linguists at Durham: a lot of people tell me or hint that they’re not nearly as in love with their main foreign language as I am with German. And that’s sorta good to hear; this way I know I’ve struck gold. But the point is: when I was learning German, I’d mutter sentences to myself and playing around in the grammar would give me a little golden fleck of joy in my heart (GEEEEEEEK): Arabic, on the other hand, didn’t do that nearly as much and rarely ever. Even now, when I read German sentences, the mixes of verbs with dative and the way you can put your object at the front of the sentence all cause me to smile at the way the language works like an appeased God at his creation, benevolently smiling. Arabic doesn’t do that. It was just a jungle of words and phrases, little bits of little words that wouldn’t fit into the grammar-calculator (grammarculator?) that my brain has become (as a result of German). The exceptions would bug me beyond comprehension and, sure, I could deal with them and put them into use, but I didn’t get anything from them. And God knows, Arabic’s the kinda language where you’ve got to love the irregularities because of how many there are.

That makes me sound like I’m saying that Arabic was “too hard” for me. That’s not true. I didn’t find Arabic ‘too hard’ at any time in my entire career of studying it (the past 2.5 years). I was always confident with it and happy to be one of the best. New grammatical concepts would go straight into my brain without much problem and I could factor them in and remember them pretty well. New vocab, vocab learning being a weakness of mine in language learning generally, was difficult, but that’s why Fay and I were so good at revising together: what I could bring to the grammar comprehension, she could bring to the vocab learning. But the point is: it’s not that it was too hard. At all. I could easily have fought my way through, but my motivation would’ve lacked and the level to which I’d’ve learnt Arabic would’ve suffered as a consequence.

Another thing I realised as I was dealing with all of this in my head in that dark, dark week just before I came home (and believe me (or Sophia), it was a pretty dark week. I was  plagued with decision-making and guilt and worry that I’d be ruining my degree), was that my interest in Arabic and my knowledge had just about got to the same point. I took up Arabic 3 years ago with the express desire to learn a new language and not because I was interested in the Middle East (much at all actually). That sounds sacrilegious coming from someone who’s studied it, doesn’t it? That’s the point, though, I guess. A lot of my peers were super interested in it and even if not wanting to pursue a career in languages (it’s my plan to study interpreting after I’ve finished my BA) had a reason to approach the language in that they were interested in the world and world politics. I’m only interested in the world in a selfish and egotistical way, which is pig-headed and blunt of me, but what’s a little honesty between friends?

This feeling of my interest and knowledge being at the same point crudely expressed itself once in me thinking, “Everything I wanted to know about this language, I could’ve learnt from the Wikipedia page.” I felt disgusted with myself for thinking that a few days later and still sort of do now, but there is a truth in it. I’ve realised that my heart lies in languages itself and not in Arabic as its own language, which lead me onto thinking I should actually be doing a degree in German and Linguistics, but where’s that gunna get me in an interpreting career?

I didn’t really think about any of these things when I first took up Arabic at 18. I hadn’t really considered the idea that I might not enjoy it and was just hell-bent on being an ‘Arabic student.’ “I study Arabic” are strong and addictive words.

This is by no means the end of the reasoning behind what’s gone on my head, but I can tell you that I’ve thought about it simply (“Do I like this language?”) and not simply, going through all the various emotions. Having that many things in your head all at the same time is really tiring and I was a little steel ball in a big metal hemisphere, at the edge of which were towers exuding all kinds of gravitational pull in different directions and I’d roll wildly from one edge to the other and topple down to the centre again. And whenever I thought, “I’m leaving,” the metal ball of my consciousness would rest, perfectly addressing the attraction of all the towers and still remaining in the middle, quivering slightly under the pull, but there and safe. But letting it go made me roll about and feel sick. So possibly one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.

As I say, please don’t view this as a comprehensive discussion of my thoughts. If you want to know anymore, you can talk to me about it – I am willing to discuss it, but I can’t promise I’m not going to repeat myself. The one-sentence summary of the affair is this: “I didn’t like it enough to become really, really amazing at it and so decided it wasn’t worth it.”

Since then, I’ve had to deal with the repercussions, obviously. The first thing I should stress, and the first thing I needed stressing to me, is that it’s actually not a ruining factor in my degree. I don’t lose the 2 years’ study I’ve already done and it will appear on my degree certificate as it is. I also won’t lose the knowledge. Just because I’ve stopped doing it, doesn’t mean all of it just drops out of my head as if it had never existed in the first place. Secondly, this allows me to concentrate on German in my fourth year and for the rest of this year abroad. Now I can go back and really get as amazing as I want to and that fills me with such joy. I know I’ve got better so far and I knew when I left, I could feel it, that I still had some way to go before I’d be happy. That’s why leaving wasn’t such a big thing – I couldn’t think about it directly because it’d upset me too much.

It doesn’t entirely rule out coming back to Arabic in the future. This is something I realised while I was deciding too – I’m grateful for the fact that I learnt German really slowly and, by the time I really realised I loved it, I already had all the basics in my head and moving on from that was easy. 7 years’ tuition at school really did set the foundation. So I am in a position now to let my interest in Arabic grow, if it’s going to, and then facilitate some further, motivated study of the language at a future time (that’s not to say that I have lamented the fact that I’m giving up on it now, in my life, where I have this period specially set-aside for it (then again, having a higher interest in it and pursuing the language with greater motivation will give a greater gain)).

The future’s not all bright though. I need a second language and am taking applications and suggestions. Although I heard from an EU interpreter who gave a talk at Durham that the EU was super short on English native interpreters (that’s a global shortage actually) and interpreters for German (making me auto-appeal to two shortages), I still don’t satisfy the very basic of the EU’s criteria – you must have 3 languages and one of them must be English (in my view, this is biased against English natives, because anyone who’s interested in languages and isn’t an English native gets English exposure all around and almost everyone in Europe speaks some quality of English, enabling linguists to go on and study one other language and just perfect their English (a little cynical, but who’s counting?)). Having had this experience with Arabic means that I can more accurately assess how I’m going to react to a language and what exactly it is about languages that pleases me.

So I sit here in on this little island (currently, aggravatingly, underneath an Icelandic cloud of ash grr), and I look at the European mainland and I see: the Romance languages of France and Spain and Italy; the breed of Germanic languages from Germany right up into Scandinavia, and the Slavic languages from behind the former iron curtain. I look at myself and I see: one understanding of a Germanic language, one ability and love for languages and an appropriate talent to learn them, and one fascination with regular, but complicated, grammar systems. When I put the two together, and realise that having languages from different families is more favourable, because of the way my career would open me up into languages similar to the ones I’ve already learnt, the Slavic languages look most appealing. And where better to start than Polish, neighbour of Germany, homeland of The Polish Plumber in England and step 1 on the wrung of Slavic understanding.

Sure, it’s a bit stupid for me just to pick these languages out of nowhere, I know. But I have to start somewhere and my logic will hopefully stand. I’ve bought myself a Teach Yourself Polish book (yet to make any kind of real in-road into it though) and will probably take a course in it at Durham’s Languages For All programme next year, assuming my little Teach Yourself book entices me enough.

Any suggestions anyone has on languages I could learn that’d be handy for the EU (or otherwise) are gratefully received – thinking outside the box is also very gratefully received (big shout-out already to Jane on that front with the British Sign Language suggestion!).

So that’s that.

Things to look forward to in the next blog post:

What’s happening next? Where’re you going for the rest of your year abroad? Are you coming back to Heidelberg? What are you going to do there? Where will you live? What the bloody hell are you knitting at the moment?! and other such fun stories.

It’s been great. Love to all.

مع السلامة, بريطانيا, لمرةٍ أخرى

March 3, 2010

Syria, country housing the oldest city in the world, which will houses the Umayyad Mosque and me for the next 6 months. Other stuff you need to know: this is how the national anthem goes (lyrics here), language: Arabic, currency: Syrian pounds (only buyable in situ, recently learned), president: Bashar Al-Assad, population: about 21 million, time zone: GMT+2. All of this information (and more!) is available by a quick read through the wiki page for Syria. (I’m getting into linking).

Am I scared, you may well ask. The answer, ladies and gentlemen, is yes. Beyond belief. Completely unreasonably, as well. I know people who are out there, people who are surviving perfectly well and learning Arabic and embracing culture changes; Fay’s meeting me from the airport – what have I to fear? The massive, massive unknown. The fact that I’ve got to squish down the fat linguist in me who says “NEVER SPEAK TO A NATIVE IN YOUR OWN NATIVE. THAT’S NOT HOW WE DO THINGS.” The fact that I’m not going to understand things people say to me. Not even in the majority. The fact that I don’t know where things are, I don’t have accommodation, I don’t know where the university is. I keep turning the word, Syria, over and over in my mouth, saying it aloud, this way and that… Just wondering whether I should print out that wiki page for Damascus and take it with me.. Something to read on the 5 hour plane journey.

So here’s how I roll for the next 24 hours: 9.46am, a train will depart from Newark North Gate, carrying me, 25kg of my best and most Quentin Crisp-alike clothing (linen jackets and chinos with deck shoes, also linen, and some leather flats), a laptop bag and a hand luggage bag with something to read in it. Then I shall arrive at King’s X in London, wander purposefully and beladen across the street to St. P, choob it up an hour and wander into Heathrow at something like 12.30, whereupon I shall trudge up to some kind of check-in desk, sweaty profusely, and hand over all my worldlies to a woman with a fake smile and a lot of make-up. Then I’ll fight my way through Heathrow security, with a Syrian visa and a passport and, hopefully, some boarding pass or other, then sit and wait – with my books and bits of newspaper – until they call for “all passengers to Damascus.” When I hear that, I’ll up and do what the lady says – she’ll probably be robotic and forceful. Then, 3.35pm, I’ll be sitting on a plane, heading for Damascene skies, books in hand, heart beating at an unreasonable rate and, hopefully, surrounded by Arabs or equally petrified Brits. Then I’ll read and read and read until finally arriving at Damascus, 10.45pm local time. Give in some landing card and visa form, battle my way through the Syrian side of things and change about £1,000 into Syrian £. Then I’ll marvel at the massive numbers for a bit. Then I’ll meet Fay. Fay! Fay’s gunna be there! She’ll give me a huge hug and introduce me to her landlord and that’ll be the last English I speak that day. Off, off and away.

I want to go to bed and sleep, but I want to mention two things before I do that.

Firstly, a wiseman once said to me that being scared and still doing something is proof that one is alive. He was right, that man. So what, I’m scared? I can look back on myself, the one from the family who went to Syria for 6 months and learnt Arabic, in a few years’ time and be really proud of myself. Being scared is just my kick up the bum, forcing me to do stuff that I know is gunna be good.

Secondly, there’s this emotion that I get. It’s been documented quite closely in a number of sayings synonymous with Britishness over the years, but I’ll give a go at explaining what I mean from my angle. It’s the Sigh Theory.

I’m gunna be sitting there in Heathrow departure lounge. And when I have to get up and go, I’ll breathe in deeply, heave my stuff over my shoulders and off I’ll go. That breath, that almost-sigh, is the thing. It’s that “grin and bear it.” It’s that, “come on, lads, off we go.” Last chance to be scared now, cause it’s starting.

But I’m armed with my little Sony H20 cam, bought on Ami’s advice, ready to document all the goods and all the bads that come along with the experience. 6 months in Syria, ey. Who’da thunk it.

breathes in deeply.

Come on, Sony, it’s just me and you now.

The Time Between

February 18, 2010

There’s a reason I don’t like modern (non-serious) music.

I always sum it up in the sentence, “It moves me too quickly.” People puzzle at that, generally. But it’s true. I don’t like how the simplicity and the brevity both have this control over me – this stirring emotional quality which is over in a few minutes’ time. It’s mean.

So there’s me, standing in the kitchen of my dad’s house, with a cup of tea in my hand – something which I’d longed after and so highly praised when in Germany – rummaging around in my jeans. I slide out the campus card from Heidelberg university and read the words “Ruprecht-Karls-UNIVERSITÄT HEIDELBERG” and “Service für Studierende“. That, coupled with the crappy music radio 1’s pumping out in the background (needless to say, je ne suis pas un fan de radio un (… French is awful)), moves me. I’m standing there, thumbing this plastic card, slightly bluened by its being in my jeans’ pocket, but only on the one side. STUDENTENWERK HEIDELBERG. Anstalt des öffentlichen Rechts. The genitive. The capitals. The German.

I turn it over, some green advert for some local concern. The Studentenwerk. In allen Mensen & Cafés des Studentenwerks. Frischste Zutaten. Eigene Herstellung. Biologischer Anbau. Regionale Produkte. Dative plural (+n), genitive (+s). Superlative, plural adjective. Feminine noun, masculine noun. Plural adjective.

I thumb this side for a bit too. Bluer around the edges. The strong German print on the right.

English voices on the radio.


So it’s the Time Between. I’ve finished in Germany. Heidelberg flew past like a blur. 6 months, 7, I sometimes counted in my head. August the 10th, last year. February the 14th, Valentine’s Day, this year. That sounds like a long time. August’s in the middle of the year. February’s the other side of celebration. But it flew. Just like they said it would, it flew. I had a different attitude to the entire experience after Xmas and NY. Obviously. I was returning to something I so enjoyed, conscious of the fact that I had barely more than 2 months to make the most of it. To speak German without end. To get rid of everything English-thinking and English-speaking. And I pushed myself and I was successful. Almost without exception.

Exceptions would probably be something like Sophia. And other English speaking friends. But I spent most of my non-Germaning (or alone-ing) time with her. She went to Straßburg briefly, the end of a weekend spilling into the beginning of the week. In that time, I spoke almost nothing but German. But I love it. I love it. I love it totally and through and through.

That’s actually not all that true. And this is the part where the blog falters from the spontaneous part of me running from the in-the-kitchen-with-a-cup-of-tea-thumbing-my-mensa-card, into all the fragments of blog I’ve had in my head since whenever I last wrote that entry about the bakery.

Orchestra. Auftakt, the orchestra I joined in Germany.

This is one of the very, very best things I did in Germany. Joining an orchestra, while at the very beginning made me hugely conscious of the fact that I had a sizeable gap in my vocab which was to be focal part of language for those rehearsal hours, has firstly annihilated that – I learnt some wicked words in orchestra (list incoming: abkanzeln, anmotzen, to name just two. Schund, Ramsch, Habseeligkeit, zierlich, Beuteschema, zimperlich, Pfütze, da liegt der Hase im Pfeffer, flink, poofen, lauschen, Nachruf, Nachhall, gammeln and abprahlen to name a few more) – secondly, met some amazing people and had a huge self-confidence boost, when they were honestly saddened at the last concert. They bought me a post card on which is a scene of Heidelberg and then cut out our encore (Zugabe, in German, which was (and this is the reason I opened the brackets in the first place…) that famous Shostakovich waltz that everyone knows *sings*) and stuck it onto the front. On the back, in Dagmar’s very beautiful hand writing was a note about how they’d really come to appreciate me being in the group and how I’d been fun. And the feeling was mutual. It really was – they’re a lovely bunch of people and they accepted me wonderfully, grammatical mistakes and all. With this card came one of the largest chocolate bars I’ve ever seen in my life, which was filled with crunchies and yoghurt. And – by the by – was scrumptuous.

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But it’s all over.

Oh yeah – just remembered how I got on to orchestra.

We had a Probenwochenende (rehearsal weekend) one weekend, during which time, obviously, very little English was spoken. There is another native in the orchestra, an American oboist, with whom I did chat on occasion in English (sentences with weird word order are, strangely, not the fault of German, but of Henry James, being that I’m reading The Turn of the Screw at the minute, having unearthed it from my laptop bag while pretending to pack at the weekend). But. The whole thing was residential, so we all woke up, early Sunday morning, ready to go into yet more rehearsals. And it was early. I was being addressed – in German – very early on a Sunday morning. Normally, fine, not a problem, but that day, there was something different. I couldn’t get my brain to make the switch – to jump over ever-eroding barrier (imagery copyright of Sophia Stavrinides, 2010) between German and English. I was staring people in the face, as they were talking to me, understanding what they were saying (comprehension’s the first ability to gain and last to lose in any situation, I find), but just not being able to put sensical (interesting link to research on whether that is indeed a word) units of language together in some kind of interesting or vaguely appropriate fashion. And being instead and consequently, hugely uninteresting.

So I got back into Heidelberg the Sunday evening and I was craving native speech. My thinking was all over – I was half in one language, clawing at the precipices of my native language, struggling to save myself from an otherwise certain descent into some kind of language purgatory and surely the logically-following social vacuity (wow, that is a word?). I satisfied that, but found that I was making all kinds of connections between words I hadn’t previously thought connected in my head (like wirken and work – they don’t mean the same thing at all). But, as I found at other points during my stay in Heidelberg, a sleep solves everything.

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This is currently my desktop background. (language help here)


While I’m on the language rant: there’s something I’ve noticed while being back. I’m going to try and keep this succinct and short, but here it is.

Firstly, there’s an overwhelming feeling I get whenever I’m about to address a stranger (in shops or people in service roles (people who check train tickets, women I’m booking doctor appointments with and all that) to speak to them in German. You train yourself (and/or get excited about it that you have) to expect that everyone that isn’t you or a face you know speaks German. Obviously. And when you get back in your home country, you don’t make equal and reverse efforts – it’s England, you know you’re safe there – but it means you end up having consciously to switch (I hate you, split infinitive) in your head. It’s like a double bluff.

Secondly, a lot of German filler words have nestled themselves in parts of my English speech. I find myself wanting to say “also” and “genau” in places when they’d make sense in German and for which there’s no real equivalent that’s used as often in English (the first one sorta means ‘so’ and the second means ‘exactly,’ but Germans say it a lot of the time when they mean ‘anyway’ or sometimes just ‘yes’). There are also areas of expression which I’ve struggled with in German, overcome and since filtered back in to English. An example is “transition phase.” For which I (quite inaccurately) used zwischendrin Phase in German. And I got to the point t’other day, where I wanted to say “the stage in-between” in English, but, having trained myself into a way of expressing that in German, the German came to me first and I ended up saying it (having briefly paused because I’d realised what was about to happen).


What else has happened? I bought a new camera.

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Sarah Austin and I accidentally bought the same one, so I photographed hers.

This is turning into a procrastination and off-topic fest. So I’ll get something more serious going.

All in all, Germany was fantastic. I loved it. I remember Fay saying that when she was leaving France, she’d just got to the point where she’d started to develop some real friendships with the people around her and leaving then was worse because of it. I was the exact same. There are so many people who I’d just started friendships with, with whom something really worthwhile could’ve developed, had I been staying longer (Doris, Annika Konstantin to name but 3). And regarding language, I was at a point where yeh, sure, I’d come on leaps and bounds and my command of spoken German was far higher than it was when I arrived, but I could’ve been so, so much more amazing. It was a slow development, followed by a rash and rapid development and then a sudden drop, as I left.

What have I taken away from Germany with me?

Better German. Many, many good friends. The strongest and closest friendship I’ve ever had with anyone ever. Lots of Germans willing to correct things for me in 4th year as well as Germans to Skype just before oral exams and the like. The knowledge that I am definitely going back at some point in my life for more than 6 months (but should probably limit myself to less than 2 years, just for the sake of coming back – I can easily see myself getting stuck out there (happily stuck, of course) and not coming back). The ability to watch scary movies and not completely fall to pieces. A great, big smile.

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Sure, parts could’ve gone better. But parts could’ve gone far worse. I could’ve lived tidier, I could’ve lived in more German. I could’ve befriended people. I could’ve not ignored people (wholly by accident) who had made so much effort with me. I could’ve put less stress on “finding someone.” I could’ve knitted less and worked more.

But I did learn how to say “should have done” and “would have done.” Even though that grammatical point was my one and only Achilles’ heel.


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And what’s next? Syria.

3rd of March. London Heathrow. Terminal 1. 3.35pm. 5 hours, 10 minutes later, Damascus, Syria.

Two weeks yesterday. Visa applied for. Train tickets to London booked and arrived in the post.

Packed? Barely unpacked.

What adventures. They await.

Remember Ingrim Strasse, being hideously behind and ‘qualified’

November 23, 2009

Ingrim Strasse is one of those tiny, tiny streets up at the east end of Altstadt. Up there, they all get a bit complicated and go in all manner of different directions. But there’s something better about Ingrim Str. compared to the rest.

It’s a pretty narrow and high street, quite like all of them down that end of town. The windows are high as well, but some of the window and house-faces are large open windows, not unlike shop windows

But the special thing about Ingrim Strasse occurs to me every Friday when I’m walking home from my 9am Language Acquisition lecture in the germanistisches Seminar. It’s such a strange street. You walk down it and, just because of human curiosity, you move your head from side to side. You look in windows, because they’re at your eye-level. This is the good bit.

Every window has something odd and different in it. It’s so… oddly exotic and fun. It’s such a traditional street, though. All the wooden furniture in the weird rooms beyond the exciting frames. You walk past that show with the huge office right there on the street – huge glass window – the name of the shop written in some odd script that you can only guess is something like Armenian, even though the ‘first’ letter looks a bit like an M…

Ingrim Str.’s just one of those places you can’t quite believe you’ve finished walking down when you get to the end. It’s the kind of street you just want to walk down again. And again.

I’ll take Polly there when she comes on Thursday (!).

(more…)

Remember bright rain drops on Akademiestraße?

October 12, 2009

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It’s raining.

And rain does funny things to me.

I love this kind of rain the most. It’s unashamedly heavy and real. Not like the pathetic drizzle you have to learn to appreciate in England. No no. Much better.

I’ve just sat with my window wide open and my head out, smelling the rain and getting my fringe wet. I noticed down on the street that a lamp which hangs across is collecting drops on its brim and then they fall, all the while illuminated by the street light. Quite the scene. I’m glad my camera managed to capture it; I really didn’t think it would.

I always want to go outside in rain like this. Just change into some oldish clothes and go for a walk somewhere and get completely drenched. To the point where it just doesn’t matter any more and there’s nothing you can do about it. Where you just end up embracing how wet everything is and enjoying the smell. The smell’s the best bit for definite.

Then those thoughts lead me on two ways. Firstly to the most recent memory of rain akin to this, which was in college in first year. When Sarah and I watched the final of The Apprentice, then went for a walk in the rain and up over the golf course, saw Grey fireworks and had to make a romantix out of it. It was really liberating. Sarah also laid down in a puddle. Which is all about the getting drenched thing.

Secondly to a time ages ago when I was a child. Jonathan, Jamie and I were at Jonathan’s great aunt’s house, Connie, and it started raining something awful. Her house had a massive, massive blue gate, which lead into a sort of courtyard to the left of her house. We came in after it had started raining, but I remember really wanting to go outside. I remember asking my mum whether she’d let us and, eventually, she did. So out we went. And we got soaked! It was fantastic. Being in that leafy, English garden, back then, with all the rain coming down. Makes you wonder how much your life changes in all that time.

Then I got thinking, maybe I should go out into the rain. I’m on my year abroad, after all, and things like that are dozen-a-penny on years abroad (year abroads). Then I thought, “What if I don’t come back? What if I just go and get lost out in the world? Out in the stars, out in Asia?” And got all fanciful and dreamy. I day-dreamed back-backing to India, with a cardboard sign that just reads ‘EAST’ in big black marker pen. In my coat, with my cards as a back-up, for when I finally want to buy my ticket home. Armed with only those as a lifeline. No mobile phone, no baggage. Just all the money in my account and my lifeline. And a hitch-hiking knowledge. Lordy. Imagine. I’d love to do that. But I’m just not ballsy enough. I’d just rather stick at home and worry about going to the Middle East and worrying about whether I’m speaking enough German every day to make my degree worth it in the long run. I pictured me on a dust road in Turkey, though. Definitely did that.


Today’s the first time that all 5 of us in the WG have been home at the same time. And tonight, in this rain, is the first time we’ve been altogether here – no-one thinking of jetting off tomorrow. But that’s because tomorrow is the beginning of lecture time for Heidelberg university. Fabian baked a cake for some friends and brought remains home. I’ve had two slices already. It has almonds on it and a vanilla cream layer in the middle and it’s yumatum. I ate it from an orange saucer.

There are multiple small ‘remember x?’ things I’ve thought I wanted to remember in the past day, but none of them have stuck with me. I haven’t remembered any of them. Which sucks. I’m just writing this now so as to stop me going outside and never coming back, with only my MasterCard as company.

It was my birthday yesterday. I reached a record high of facebook happy-birthday wishes (over last year’s 50 – not sure of this year’s exact date). Yes, that is how I measure how good my birthday is. I spent the day breakfasting with Aminata and Torben, being surprised by Sophia at home, meeting Sophie for a quick run around town before going to knitting (where Krokodil was hideously full and had screaming children in). Then I went home and met up with Marwood and Emir and Sarah and Nan for a wander around town, eating at ExtraBlatt (second time on my birthday) and then bumming around. I was pretty knackered from Friday night, when we ate at Pizza Hut then saw a fight on Untere Straße, before settling down in a (very, very smokey) bar for a drink (Sarah bought me a delicious pineapple cocktail), then meeting two randoms in the street (Marwood and I chatted to them and thereby lost the rest of the group), then went home. Not with the randoms, I hasten to add. Although one was quite a looker.

Today, I went to see Sophie in her home in Weinheim for lolz and knitz. Which was lovely as ever. We saw ‘ The Dom’ in the place we ate for lunch. A suited, very short chap, with a huge ‘squared-off afro’ (Sophie’s words). Quite the find, she reassured me. I fancied a massive, dirty take-away on the tram home, but managed to be sated by birthday chocolate and Fabian-baked cake on returning.

Then I was to be sighted on Akademiestrasse later this evening carrying an envelope, a shiny-silver bag of Tesco tea, a blue packet of posh Earl Grey and a large white/orange teapot, with elephants on it. At like 11pm at night. I did walk past a couple, who did laugh. Whether at me or not – we’ll never know.

There will be no list here.

“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