Visitors welcome!

Hallo, long time, no blog(again)! I’ve had three visitors over the last two weeks, so I haven’t has much time to myself to write a post. That sounds a bit negative but it’s absolutely not meant to be; it’s been really lovely spending time with family and friends!

 

imageAbout two weeks ago now, my brother Jon came to Stuggi and brought the lovely English weather with him! despite the weather, we still had a great time and fit loads in. While it rained, we went to the Mercedes Benz museum and the planetarium (where a certain someone- Jon- fell asleep!) and we managed a quick trip to nearby Heidelberg while the sun came out briefly! During his visit, Jon are his first Currywurst (and then another one!), drank his first banana beer and, as a fellow German student, spoke his first words of German with a native speaker! 

Not long after Jon left, my friend Kim arrived. Fortunately, she didn’t also bring bad weather and we were able to visit the mineral baths. Stuttgart is built on a mineral water source, and the water is pumped up so you can swim in it. It was lovely, if a little chilly, and if the German tradition of sunbathing topless (or entirely nude) tested our British stiff upper lips! (No, we didn’t partake!) I continued my car education when we went to te Porsche museum, though we were most excited by the bright coloured ones and the ones you could sit in, which shows how much I know about cars! Kim’s visit also coincided with Stuttgart’s wine festival. Imagine a German Christmas market, but dedicated only to wine. It was great, although we got some dirty looks for ordering Rose and not Rheinland White! 

The day after Kim left, my course-mate Lucy came to stay for a few days on her way home, as she’s now finished her year abroad. It’s funny that, not being very enthusiastic to start my year abroad this time last year, I’m one of the ones staying the longest! Sadly, I had to go to work on both of the days Lucy was here, but it was nice to sped the evenings with her – the one we accidentally spent in an underground bar listening to some kind of bizarre live electro-folk misic isn’t one I’ll be able to forget soon (or probably ever repeat)!

i can’t think of any other major faux-pas’ this week, other that assuming that ‘geil’ as someone called Kim and me in a bar was a compliment. I’ve since found out that it is, but a pretty rude one! I’ll leave you with the embarrassing fact that after visiting two car museums over the last two weekends and gettig an A in a level physics, I still have no idea how cars work!

 

 

 

 

Tuebingen

Hallo from Stuttgart! I’m giving myself a big pat on the back for getting a blog post done on time for once! I’ve had another hectic couple of weeks here in Hermany and will has another few to come, since I’ve got visitors over the next two weekends. Jon and Kim, I’m really excited to see you! 

 

My my enthusiasm for work comes in waves. We’ve just finished a 7000 word translation project, which was interesting to start with but which, more than a week later, I’m so relieved to see the back of! Relief is always short-lived; there’ll be something else for me to get stuck into tomorrow!! That’s all on work because I’m sure it’s not that interestig for you all, and I’d much rather relive my weekends!!

 

This weekend I was visited by my lovely friend Emily.. Em lives in Mainz (you might remember I went there a few weeks ago) and has been there for about 6 months so, since Stuttgart is one of the nearest big cities, she’s already been here a couple of times. Since she’d seen most of Stuttgart’s sights already, we decided to go and explore a new town, Tuebingen.

 

Tuebingen is also in Baden-Wurttemberg, the same “Bundesland” (federal state) as Stuttgart. There’s a really good deal here which let’s you travel on any train in the area for a day for a relatively small price, so we took advantage of that.

 

Tuebingen is a really pretty traditional student town. Normally, 1/3 of the population are students, so we were expecting it to be quite quiet but I think all of the missing students were replaced by tourists!!

We walked all the way up the hill to the castle, no mean feat in 35degree weather, which is now part of the uni. It was definitely worth it for some beautiful views over the town. We had lunch at a traditional Brauhaus, where I sampled my first Maultaschen, a traditional Schwabisch food. They are essentially slightly soggy sausage rolls, although that makes them sound less nice than they are!! In the Brauhaus we bumped into another course mate from uni who also happened to be visiting Tuebingen for the day… It’s such a small world!! We all went on a gondola punting boat on the river, which only cost us 5euro for an hour!! What a rip off punting in Cambridge is zzzalthough I would have gladly paid another 5 euros not to have to hear the guide’s rendition of a traditional Schwabisch song!  

This Sunday saw the end of the Sommerfest in the area. Last weekend Emily and I went to the events in Stuttgart – the whole of the park was covered in tents and there was live music, cocktails and CURRY!! (Have I mentioned that I miss curry!?) This last weekend, there was a firework competition “Flammende-sterne” in Scharnhauser Park, one of the suburbs here. Over three days, three nations (this year Germany, Dubai and Costa Rica) put on a display each night. I went to watch on the Friday and Sunday night, and they were definitely some of the best I’ve ever seen!! 

 

Pictures to be added to this post at a later date! My laptop is broken at the moment so I’m posting this from my phone, and even a single photo upload takes forever!  

 

 

Cultural differences

Hallo everyone! It’s been a really long time since I last blogged, but I’ve been too busy living life to blog about it!! Also, sitting infront of a computer at work for 7 hours a day means that I don’t really want to spend much of my free time doing the same! Since I last wrote a post, I’ve been to visit the family I au-paired for last summer in Munich, been ill, been home very briefly, and had my first visitor.. So I haven’t had much time to write. I thought I’d do a themed post this week, instead of just rambling on about what I’ve been doing, but I’ll let some pictures do that for me first! A picture says a thousand words, so they say: 

image image image This one needs some words! The family I visited live near a lake just outside Munich. Instead of an ice cream van, an ICE CREAM BOAT comes to sell ice cream on the shore! I queued up with the children and was probably far more excited to buy a nice cream from a boat than any of them!!imageI went up to the platform 183m up, the view was amazing!! 

Germany and England are culturally fairly similar, at least compared with Spain and England. Meal times are similar, as are working times, and there is no siesta (all together, yay!) 

Language

I thought I’d start with an obvious one! There has, of course, been a faux-pas of the week. The other day my boss asked me if I had any questions about the work he’d given to me. I wanted to say “Nein, ich habe keine Zweifel/ no, I have no doubts” but what I actually said was “Nein, ich habe keine Zwiebeln/ no, I don’t have any onions!” At least I gave everyone in the office something to smile about! 

Although that might suggest otherwise, my German is always improving. Here in Germany, everyone learns English from the age of 8 or 9, so they all have at least a decent level of English. I expected that I might find it more difficult than in Spain to use my foreign language, but I actually speak less English here. I speak only German at work, with my flat mates , and most of my friends. translating legal documents at work reminds me just how much I still have to learn, but I’m getting better every day. If people, sometimes in shops, hear my English accent and try to answer me in English, I’ve started to feel quite affronted and answer back determinedly in German! 

Driving

In Europe, as I’m sure you’ll know, people drive on the other side of the road to us in the Uk. As a passenger, this doesn’t feel at all strange, but last week I had my first experience of driving on the right. Changing gears with my right hand was a very komisch feeling, as was keeping to the right side of the road! I couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was going to drive right into me, but there were no injuries to myself, passenger, the car or Germany, so I think it was a success! …also, it’s not just cars that travel on the right side! I’vejust noticed that the up escalator is always on the right here!

Another difference is the speed limit. In towns and cities the speed limit is similar to ours, but parts of the Autobahn(motorway) have no speed limit at all! I must be getting boring in my old age- I find that really terrifying.

Germany has a really strong car manufacturing industry, and German people like to support it. I dot know if it’s just because the two cities I’ve lived in, Munich and Stuttgart, are so wealthy, but it seems like everyone drives beautiful cars! The price of petrol (and everything) is really high so I don’t know how people afford to run them!!

Cost

That brings me nicely to the (not so nice) topic of how much everything costs here!! Perhaps, compared with England, it’s not that expensive but compared with life in Spain, the cost of living here seems extortionate. I’ve gone from spending about 25 euros per week on food in Spain to about 45 here. An oven pizza costs about a fiver!! Thank goodness for the Erasmus grant!

Thank goodness also for the free accommodation provided by my work. Rent here is really expensive- but the biggest problem is that there are so few spare rooms. A friend had to look for more than a month before she found one. The problem is is that the economy is doing well here, so people are taking jobs and moving here, but there is nowhere for them to live. Some of the countryside surrounding the city is protected so it can’t expand much to make room. 

Food and Drink

Here in Germany,  I think the food’a quite similar. Traditional dishes involve meat and some types of potatoes or bread. International food is really popular- there are lots of Italian restaurants and sushi bars. I was thrilled when I found curry powder and coconut milk on the supermarket!! 

Food culture is quite similar, but drinking culture is not. I know very few people who drink tap water (although it’s perfectly safe) a everyone buys bottled. Bottled water is almost always sparkling. I found it quite strange at first but I’m starting to really like it- maybe even prefer it! (But I’m still drinking the tap water, I can’t afford bottled water after I’ve done my food shop haha!!)

True to the stereotype, beer is the drink of choice in bars (and everywhere else!) I would never order a beer at home but here I do (no one likes to be that awkward person in the round!) an I enjoy it. Maybe I’ve acquired the taste or maybe it’s better here… I’ll did out when I’m back in the UK in October!!

Germany is really big on recycling. When you buy a drink, you pay not just for the liquid, but also for the bottle/glass. This is called Pfand. When you finish, you take the container back to the shop or bar and get the Pfand money back. The system is great unless, like me, you’re foreign and keep forgetting not to throw them away – getting the dirtiest looks if anyone sees me doing it!!

There are lots more cultural differences but I’ll leave them for another post! Bis gleich!


 

Ein Wochenende in Wien

Hallo aus Stuttgart! I didn’t really mean for it to, but it seems that my blog’s become biweekly since I moved to Germany! I have much less time here, so I need to make the most of it to travel. That, along with work, doesn’t leave me much time to write!
This weekend I went to visit my friend Elle, who lives in Vienna. I booked this trip two or three months ago and really looked forward to it, and it didn’t disappoint!

Vienna is about 700km from Stuttgart; you can get there by a ten-hour long train journey or a seventy-minute flight. Since the flight actually worked out ten Euros cheaper, I went with that! (Sorry, environment!) It’s been one of my furthest and most expensive trips, but it was well worth the effort and cost! I don’t know that I’ll ever have the freedom, friends in the same situation in different cities to visit, or free money (my Erasmus grant) to travel like I’ve had this year so I have to make the most of it!

I took Friday off work and got a horribly early flight (I left my house at 4am!), which gave me a full three days in Vienna. It turned out that packing my bikini in the hope of swimming in the Danube was a tad optimistic – the weather had been beautiful until the Thursday night and was mostly overcast or rainy over the weekend! It must have known I was coming.

To escape the rain on Friday morning, we went to the Musikhaus. The Musikhaus is a museum dedicated to all things musical; the many famous musicians who lived in Vienna and music and sound in general. I’m not very musical at all but when in Vienna…! The museum was really interactive which, being a big kid, suited me well. (I always look at the family friendly page in guidebooks when I visit places!!) I learned a lot, not just about music but a lot of new music-specific German words, since we decided not to be lazy and took the tour in German.
DSCF7342
DSCF7345

DSCF7346

Vienna is famous for its patisseries, so it would have been rude not to have indulged! A hot chocolate and half a slice of cake was pretty much a meal! Sachertorte is the very famous Viennese cake but I don’t like marzipan so we had Mozarttorte, which is chocolate sponged sandwiched with pistachio-cream. Apparently it was Mozart’s favourite cake; I think he’s a man of good taste.
DSCF7352
cake

Friday was a truly musical day because although it’s normally sold out months in advance, we managed to get half-price student tickets for the opera. We were sat in the Gods and couldn’t see a lot but we could hear! The Vienna Opera is one of the most famous in the world and is in the “1000 places to see before you die” book. Neither of us are really in to opera and weren’t sure that we could stand a full four hours of it, so were glad to go to a medley concert, with lots of different styles of music (and only a few operatic pieces.) The concert was great but all of the rooms were opened up for us to look at in the interval and they were equally, if not more, impressive than the music!
DSCF7358

DSCF7359

DSCF7365

DSCF7370

The weekend got even more cultural on Saturday evening, when we went to the Vienna film festival. We didn’t spot any celebs but we did see a live screening of Romeo and Juliet (the ballet version) from Russia. Saturday was a beautiful day; sitting outside in shorts at gone 11pm and watching ballet while drinking cocktails, I felt a thousand miles away from Stuttgart and the world of work and attic life, and a million miles away from England!

DSCF7387

DSCF7388

Sadly on Sunday the weather broke again halfway round our walk through the palace gardens! The palace was beautiful rain or shine; I know, I experienced both! On our way home, the heavens truly opened! This seemed hilarious until I had to pack these wet clothes into my suitcase with my dry ones:

DSCF7393

DSCF7394

DSCF7408

DSCF7412

I could happily have spent a week in Vienna but sadly I had to leave! My flight back to Stuttgart was indirect, via Zurich. The first leg of the journey was uninteresting but we spent three hours on the plane in Zurich without moving anywhere. At one point, the pilot started repeating the football commentary down the radio. Apparently the weather radar on the plane had broken, and at gone midnight it was eventually decided that it wasn’t fixable and there were no other planes available. We were all bussed to and put up in a 5 star hotel for free for all of 4 hours and only 200km from our destination… the situation was laughable, but the Germans were all so elated from their world cup win that the Stimmung was still pretty good! I arrived back here with only 3 hours sleep, so I’m stil a bit spaced out and trying to catch up!

It was really lovely to spend time with a friend and speak freely and comfortably in English for a few days – although we both noticed that our English is suffering through lack of use! Examples of good Denglisch are: “Shall we catch the Bahn, or?” and “It’s so cool, the Ballet!” I’m really enjoying my German life but I’m getting really excited to getting back to Nottingham and normality and living with my friends in September. A big thank you to Elle for having me!

Next stop, Munich this weekend! I’m going to visit the family I satyed with an an au pair last summer.

A weekend in Mainz

Hi everyone! It’s been quite a while since my last blog post but I’ve been so busy working, socialising and travelling that I’ve not had time to write. Who knew that working a full-time job could be so time consuming!? I’m ashamed to say that I’ve even started doing some of the things that I judge other people as being lazy for doing. Yesterday, for example, I even bought ready-grated cheese. A new low point.

Since I last wrote about the world cup madness here in Germany, my national team, England, has been knocked out. ImageRepresenting in Germany!

This photo was taken before the second group-stage match against Uruguay (which we lost 2-1)… I definitely looked a lot more sheepish on my way home! There are lots of public viewings like this one all over Germany, and there is always a good atmosphere. Despite being with lots of people, and the flags were definitely a conversation starter, I actually felt pretty lonely that evening! Stuttgart is a really mulit-cultural city; everywhere you go, you hear different languages and see different types of dress. But, that evening, I was the only English girl at the viewing. I actually saw more Uruguay supporters!

Last weekend I made a trip up North into the neighbouring Bundesland/state, the Rheinland (bet you all recognise that one from school history class!) to visit my uni friend, Emily! She lives in:

Image(M-eye-nts, not M-ay-ns)

You could be forgiven for not knowing Mainz… I didn’t, either, before I visited! Mainz isn’t a very famous city, but I think it’s a bit of a hidden gem! I would definitely recommend a visit. Sadly I didn’t manage to take any of Baden-Wurrtemberg’s beautiful weather with me and it was overcast and rainy all weekend, but it was still lovely!

I went to Mainz to see the city, but also to catch up with my friend, so we spent a lot of the weekend gossiping over Kaffe und Kuchen, or, in true German spirit, beer!

Image

I always thought that having a hot drink and a cake (afternoon tea) was a very British tradition, but apparently it’s also traditional in Germany. This was our excuse, anyway, to do it twice in as many days! Maybe, like Christmas trees, it’s another tradition we got from Albert!

On the topic of food (one of my favourite topics), I had my first Currywurst of this trip at the weekend. I loved Currywurst when I first tried it last summer in Munich, so I can’t believe it’s taken me almost a month of being here in Germany to have it again! It’s German sausage in a spicy tomatoey sauce, and it’s  a relatively new thing but Germany has become famous for it. Lots of people think it’s disgusting and some German people have told me theiy’re embarassed by it, but I think it’s delicious! Although, apparently “real” Currywurst can only be eaten in Berlin, and I haven’t been there yet to try it!

currywurst

I’ve really had my share of curry this weekend, because we sourced the ingredients to make Madras from scratch. Curry is incredibly popular in Britain, but not so much in the rest of Europe, and it’s one of the things that lots of expats really miss. You can’t buy ready made sauces like you can in the UK’s supermarkets; usually you can’t even find the ingredients to make it from scratch. We were (perhaps a bit too) excited to find spices and powder and coconut milk at the market and made this beauty. It should have served four, but we devoured it between the two of us!

mainz marketcurry

In between eating and drinking, we did see the sights. Emily lives in a flat almost in the centre of town, so it was ideally located for sightseeing. Her flat is big, airy and proper (as opposed to my attic) and I realised  just how much i’m starting to miss being able to stand up at the sides of rooms! Still, I’m staying positive about it; I don’t pay rent and beggars can’t be choosers!

Although Mainz is quite small (it has a population of 200,000), it has a huge cathedral. Unfortunately, although it looks a bit like the Disneyland castle from the outside, it’s not nearly as impressive inside. In fact, I’m really glad that entry was free because it’s probably one of the least impressive cathedrals I’ve ever been in. The third picture is actually of the interior of another church we stumbled across.

cathedral cathedral2 church

The town hall and castle were both impressive looking buildings, but sadly they were both closed to the public, as was the Roman theatre.

photo 2 (7) photo 1 (6)

roman theatre

Mainz, like Stuttgart, is about as inland as you can get, but I’ve sat on a beach in both! In Stuttgart, we have a rooftop beach bar, and in Mainz there are two man-made beaches on the banks of the Rhein.

beach rhein

The Rheinland is one of Germany’s main wine-producing areas, so I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t drink any while I was there. To make up for it, and just so I could tell you whether it was any good or not (it is), I’ve bought some from the supermarket back here in Stuttgart! Most of the free space in and around Mainz is dedicated to vineyards; they are even in the garden of the the district planning building …good planning!

townplanning

 

Graffiti is legal in Mainz and some beautiful murals have been created in the subways. To show you just how big this graffiti is, I’m the dot in the corner of the picture and at nearly 5 ft 7, I’m not short!

graffitti

I’m planning to spend this weekend in my home from home, Stuttgart, to rest up and save my pennies/cents for my trip to Vienna next weekend! Life’s exciting at the moment! Bis bald.

 

World cup madness

Hallo aus Deutschland! Since I last blogged and as I’m sure you all know, the world cup has kicked-off! According to my reliable source in the UK (my Dad), there isn’t the usual madness at home this year. As Gary Lineker said before our first match, “Expectattions are low!”  This is not the case in Germany; the Germans have high hopes this year and, football fan or not, there’s no avoiding the Weltmeisterschaft!

The German colours are absolutely everywhere.

pic3 She definitely caught me taking this picture!

They’re on houses:

pic8

This family don’t want to commit their support too early!

pic2

But there’s no doubt as to which team this household’s supporting!

They’re on cars:

pic7

…And not just the sport-shops but all types of Laden!

pic9There seems to be a bit of a World-cup themed window display competition at my top-shops. This one is the butchers; it was so sunny (not rubbing it in-honest) that there is so much reflection that you can hardly see, but this is a life-size football fan tending to his barbecue! 

I can’t even eat a biscuit without learning the name and number of a German player and I’m starting a sticker collection because they come free inside my Hanuta packets. It’s not just biscuits, but chocolate bars and crisps too. Kinder even has a new limited edition range of chocolates in the form of the German footballers! I’m not too sure whether junk food promoting sport is ironic, or if it’s good that it’s advertising exercise!

It’s not just the German team’s matches but all the matches that people are interested in.

pic 6 “ALL World Cup games live”

Away from football now, I’ve already completed my first week at work! The work is varied and the topics are interesting, but working in an office is, of course, very different to teaching and I’m really missing moving around and interacting with people. However, it is really nice to come home and put my feet up, without having to plan! I finish work at half past four every day so I have a lot of free time in the evenings, which is lovely.

I’ve been using this free time to explore the city a bit more. Since the weather has been so nice, I’ve spent a lot of my time sunbathing in the park in the centre of town. Now I’ve got a bit of a tan, I’m determined to keep it!I’ve also met a lot of new people and I’ve already discovered some of Stuttgart’s best secrets! On Wednesday evening I went to a bar which has different free live music each week. This week’s band played quite soothing blues/folksy music which suited my Wednesday night mood perfectly!

pic1

On Friday, I went out and found myself at a rooftop bar with a beach theme! It was dark but the views of the lights across the city were beautiful and it was fun but a bit strange to be on a “beach,” complete with deckchairs, parasols and sand, in the south of Germany!

pic4skybeach

Faux-pas of the week: My faux-pas  is particularly embarrassing this week because it’s something we learned to avoid when we very first started learning German! I was invited out for a coffee at “Halb neun/half nine.” In English when we say half 9, we mean half past nine. However, when the Germans say it, they mean half to nine. You’ve already guessed it; i turned up at the cafe almost an hour late! Thank goodness the person was really nice and understanding about it!

I’m going out now with my housemate to join in the madness and watch Germany play football! Bis gleich!

Beginn

Grüße aus Deutschland! I’ve been in Stuttgart for 5 days now, and I can’t really believe it’s been that long. I still feel like I’ve only just arrived! However, when I think of all the things I’ve already done in that time, I’m surprised it hasn’t been longer: I’ve already left and returned to Germany once!

I’m living in one of the outer suburbs of Stuttgart, an area called Heumaden. I have a room in the attic of the same building as I’ll be working in, the positive of which is a very short commute and the negative is that I’ll never really leave work! I’m trying to think of living in an attic as arty and cosy, but in reality I’ll probably get sick of only being able to fully stand up in the middle of each room! So, next time you see a pretty German house with a sloping roof, spare me a thought, stooping in the attic!

I’m sharing the flat with another intern, Petter, who is from Norway and a headless statue, Isaac, who lives in the corner of my bedroom and is pretty scary to wake up to!

Image…Nothing says “Welcome” like a headless statue!

Petter has been really welcoming and friendly, and has introduced me to the city and his friends, which I really appreciate. Living in an outer-suburb, we need to use the public transport to get into the centre. The S-Bahn (like a cross between a tram and a train) is fast and reliable but very expensive. A return journey costs just under 7 Euros if you buy single tickets, but Petter helped me to get a monthly Verbundspass, which is much more cost-effective. Germay is famous for being beaurocratic, but I found the process simple. I left with the pass the same day I applied for it, and the lady complimented my German, so I won’t be complaining!

Image

On Thursday I went downstairs(!) to the office to introduce my coworkers. I’m going to be working for a foundation that does a lot of legal work, but I’ll mostly be doing translation. German business correspondence is very formal but thankfully everyone seemed quite relaxed and open.

In the evening I found myself at a Flohmarkt/flea-market in a converted warehouse, which is usually used as a disco so there was also Bier. True to the stereotype, beer seems to be a really popular beverage here in Germany! It was a little bit surreal and definitely not what I expected to be doing on my second evening in Germany but it was fun and I met a lot of nice people!

Image

Some of the people I met at the market invited me on the trip they were planning to Bodensee, which is a lake on the German-Swiss border, on Sunday. Travelling was also not on my first weekend’s to-do-list but spontaneity can be great and it was a really good opportunity to make get to know people and to get to see some more of the country.

We first went to Konstanz, on the German side of the border, to explore the town and take a dip in the lake! It was 33 degrees so a swim was more than refreshing!

Image

Image

We then crossed over the border into Switzerland to see the Rheinfall, which is the largest plain waterfall in Europe. It is 150m wide and watching all the water flow at 700³/s was both impressive and quite scary!

Faux-pas of the week: “Fall” has a double meaning in German; previously I only knew the other meaning, which is case/instance. I spent most of the day not knowing where we were going!

Having covered a lot of ground in the heat and spoken only in German (which, thankfully, has come back to me quickly) all day, I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the day! However, thanks to a very hot and stuffy room and early morning bell-ringing practice at the church over the road, I wasn’t allowed a lie-in this morning! I’m feeling happy and accomplished but definitely not rested and fresh ready for my first day at work tomorrow. Wish me luck!