God Save The Queen

Quick update on my living situation: I’ve seen another flat (and went all by myself ‘cos I’m just so brave) and that was also pretty cool. I prefer the one I saw the other day, but then again I was told by one of the guys of the one I saw yesterday that they only replied to certain messages, and he chose to reply to me because I’m from England.

Which links me to my Heimweh. In English, it’s actually a longer word (yes, it’s sometimes possible for a German word to be shorter than its English equivalent): ‘homesickness’.

Never have I ever felt so patriotic whilst being here in Germany. A lot of people get excited when I tell them that I’m English, such as a girl in my flat (I actually had a conversation with someone I live with!) who is from China and went ‘woooooooooooaaaah!’ when I told her I was from England. It makes me want to learn all the words to ‘God Save The Queen’ (yes, I unfortunately do not know the entire song off by heart).

When I was in England, England to me was… well… England. Just another country, which I just so happened to be living in. I like some parts of the English culture, I perhaps don’t like some other parts, but overall it was just England. But that’s all changed now. It’s England – where I come from, where I was raised up, where I learnt to be who I am today. It’s my Heimat. And I am missing it so, so much.

I’m never taking English for granted ever again. I thought it would be so cool to speak German all the time here, but I am now forever gasping to speak just a little bit of English in my own northern accent to someone from England. Not that I don’t enjoy speaking English with Ilka every now and then, but I seem to have caught myself in a trap which somehow makes me speak slightly posher when I speak to her in the fear she won’t understand my accent. And that doesn’t feel like my English, because, of course, it isn’t.

Elsa and I with scrummy hot chocolates in Göttingen.

A nice example of enjoying speaking English is when I met with Elsa over the weekend in Göttingen. It was so nice to speak my own accent and have her understand me, despite her accent seeming to have grown a lot posher since I last spoke to her. It was also just generally nice to see someone from home. It makes me feel less alone and realise I’m not the only one doing this, and so I’m extremely excited for next week when I’m off to Cologne (or Altenberg to be more precise) to the induction course where I’ll be seeing quite a few of people from home!

Of course, nearly everyone here can speak English. I assumed it would be a case of them speaking to me in English as soon as they found out/caught a slight hint that I was from England, but that actually doesn’t appear to be the case. Examples including yesterday when I went to the bank to get the rest of my DAAD scholarship which was left over from the summer school – I think I pretty much screamed English when I spoke German, trying to pronounce words I’d never used before about cashing in a cheque, but the folks continued in German. Same when I went to top up my phone the day before yesterday (I seriously do prefer the German ‘vorgestern‘ to the English ‘the day before yesterday‘ – so much quicker to say and type) and, again, I reckon I sounded very English. But, yet, the man carried on in German.

On Saturday, I went to Gabi and Carmen’s for tea as a farewell to Carmen (who has now left and we’re missing her a lot. Or at least I am, anyway!), and a friend of mine phoned me. We chatted for just 5 minutes, in English, and then when I put the phone down and returned to the kitchen, Carmen asked me a question (in German as that’s what we always spoke in) and my mind went absolutely blank. English words were wanting to come out, but I knew I had to speak German. It was a very bizarre feeling and I didn’t like it. I thought it would be a simple case of switching from German to English and back again at the click of the finger, but it’s definitely not as easy as it sounds. It took me a fair few seconds to finally move back into German.

Turns out trying to say ‘dog’ in Spanish resulted in me spitting everywhere. This was Gabi’s bright idea to prevent it.

And to confuse things a little more (though not too much) I’m picking up bits of different languages, too, and my favourite is Spanish. I’m thinking now of picking up Spanish as an evening class with the FLC when I get back to Exeter next year. I can say a few more things now, but my favourite is still ‘where is the beer?’. As weird as it sounds, ‘beer’ is actually quite a fun word to say in Spanish, and I always feel really chuffed when I say it properly. I still haven’t mastered rolling my ‘r’s though. I don’t think I ever will.

I’ve also found myself speaking in English when something quick happens. By which I mean I have to think fast. Such as if there’s a car coming and I think someone’s going to cross the road, I shout ‘stop, car!’ instead of something like ‘Vorsicht, Auto!’, or when someone rings me and I really need to answer it as quickly as possible even though I’m talking to someone, I’ll quickly say ‘I really need to take this call!’ without thinking in German. I also swear in English, too. Not that I swear a lot (honestly, Mum, I don’t!) but say if I hurt myself, I’ll say ‘Ah ya b**tard’ instead of something equivalent in German.

Because you can take the man out of Yorkshire, but you can’t take Yorkshire out of the man. Fact.