It’s a hard life

I’m writing this post on the train home from Cologne, after a mental weekend of Karneval.

But before I came to Cologne, the week felt pretty busy: Tuesday was a varied day. For some reason, I woke up to a massive pining of home. Bar the beginning of August when I just felt homesick because I didn’t know anyone, Tuesday was the first time I truly felt homesick, and there seemed to be no explanation to it. The only thing I can think of is that it was the first time in 3 weeks I’d woke up to an empty place – before, it was either my mentor’s family, or Phoebe or Shane with whomever Phoebe and I were visiting. I was invited to Extrablatt with Millie and Lucianna, which helped a little and got my mind off things (despite the soup which burned my tongue about 10 times), and luckily the day got better from there – in my corridor in Menschingstraße, I’m lucky to have two wonderful Germans, Sabrina and Fabian, who were both running a ‘Mensching Fete’ which was the first of its kind and basically was a little party in the common room of Menschingstraße. In total, a good 25 people turned up (not including Millie because she’s too hard working), most of which were Germans which I was both surprised at and happy about, meaning I spent the whole evening talking German, which started my couple of days of speaking just German…

Wednesday was my first day back at school, due to having Mondays and Tuesdays off (it’s a hard life), and I had two classes I’ve had before which I have now due to missing loads of Wednesdays before the holidays. It was actually good fun being at school and speaking to the kids again, though it’s quite scary when a teacher asks you to start off the class by yourself a minute before the class has actually began. It admittedly didn’t go too well, purely because of how unprepared I was and how much I didn’t know about the topic (something about laws in America?!) but the students seemed to enjoy themselves. I think. We also split the class in half and I took one half at a time outside and went through an exercise with them. A couple of them refused to speak, and I just didn’t know what to do to make them, so had to fall back and pick the confident ones. If anybody has any good ideas on how I can make nervous kids speak, hints and tips would be brilliant. I also had a class with Ilka, the start of which involved the topic ‘Broken Britain’ which was interesting to say the least…

On Wednesday evening, I went to the University Cinema, or ‘Unikino’ with Lisa and others, to watch the film ‘Invictus’ which I definitely recommend to those who haven’t seen it. Due to it being a link with the English department, the film was in English, and so was the speech before the film started which included raffle prizes (very exciting)! I’ll hopefully be heading to the Unikino again soon, as they play films every week, and the films are nicely varied. On my birthday, they’re playing Ice Age 4. Unfortunately, I’ll be in Exeter watching Florence + The Machine (decent excuse I reckon).

Banana Chocolate Quark…

Thursday included more school with an early start and an unnecessary late end. My new classes are good fun, including a 6th class and a 12th class (England equivalents tend to be just add a number and that’s it in England – so 6th class is Year 7 and so on…), and the 12th class seemed amazed that I could read a bit of English quite fast – I was applauded and everything! Unfortunately, there was a bit of lack communication and I stayed at school one hour and a half longer than needed due to my last class being cancelled and me not knowing, but this was made up for with a trip to the Mensa with Millie and Alex (before which I also cancelled my German class I took at the university, reasons being can be found in my previous post). We tried some Banana-Chocolate-Quark. It was disgusting. Don’t try quark. Unless you like gone-off yoghurt (or at least that’s what I thought it tasted like)! It was weird to suddenly start speaking English again, too. I do speak English at school, but that always feels fake, with me having to speak slower and clearer, as well as sticking to certain boundaries due to the levels of the students.

After the Mensa, Millie and I headed back to Menschingstraße and an hour later we were on our way to an English Stammtisch with Sabrina. I know an English Stammtisch isn’t what we need, but I thought it’d be a perfect opportunity to get to know Sabrina better and introduce her to Millie with them living in the same halls too, as well as meet some new people. The leader of the Stammtisch turns out to be from Manchester, and it was brilliant to hear some northern tones again face-to-face with someone. After that, Millie, Sabrina and I, along with Fabian who met us after, headed to a party. At first, I thought it was a club, but it turned out to be a giant horse. Quite surreal, but weirdly good fun, despite the interesting taste of music which I’ve experienced a lot on night outs here. I’m starting to hear more good new songs, and am realising that they might not be popular in England at all, meaning I may go back in a year and not have a clue what’s going on with England music, but know all the new songs out in Germany!

Friday saw more school (which isn’t a bad thing as it means I’m actually doing something!), more fun basically, included a class where I had to sit outside and have little one-to-one interviews with the students; the teacher wanted it to feel a little like a host family situation which was a clever idea, but this meant she also gave me some tea to drink which wasn’t so nice at all. But I drank it out of politeness (why are us Brits so polite?).

Beautiful thing with ‘Katsu’ in its name (I can’t remember its full name!)

After school, I headed to the train station, and the next stop was Cologne. A slow, yet surprisingly delay-free 4 hours later, I arrived, and Shane and I headed to a brilliant Japanese restaurant he found out about, in the attempt to find a temporary Wagamama replacement (which I am really, really missing right now). The place is called Bento Box and it was fantastic – I had something with ‘Katsu’ in the name. It wasn’t like Chicken Katsu Curry, my true love, but it was still delicious. Afterwards, we headed to be a Shisha bar. The bar itself had an interesting smell of vomit, so we headed outside to the back where it was out in the open and ordered our Passionfruit Shisha. After coughing a few times (maybe kind of a lot of few times…) I got used to it, though unfortunately didn’t see the appeal, which was instantly proved when I stood up and felt ill (probably how the bar smelt so bad due to a past customer?) but after fresh air all was good, and before we knew it we went clubbing with a group of the other Cologne assistants at a brilliant club, Werkstatt, which played a fantastic array of music. It was nice getting to know the other Cologne guys, most of which I haven’t seen since Altenberg which seems centuries away now. Having got up for school really early that day after a night out the previous night (so hardcore me), and the initial plan of a trip to Bonn the next day, we decided to call it a night.

Unfortunately for us, the initial trip to go to Bonn failed after getting up around 1pm. Instead, we decided to use the full day to find our costumes for Karneval the next day. After a hectic battle through the costume shops, I ended up with a Red Indian costume, and Shane with his US Army jumpsuit, and this was obviously followed by a cheeky Culux, and a night of Pokémon Schwarze 2.

Then it was Karneval day. At 11:11am on the 11th of November (which does unfortunately clash with Remembrance Day), Karneval is opened in Cologne. I’m still unaware as to why the opening is in November, and then the actual Karneval isn’t until February, but it was still brilliant dressing up and drinking on the streets of the city in which I took my first step on German soil about 5 years ago now. There isn’t really too much detail to go into, other than everyone was dressed up, the streets were packed, and we bumped into the Münster gang, including Rae, too. It was a great day spent though, and I’m hoping the red wine comes off my Red Indian outfit as I hope to where it to the Karneval in February (though who’s going to care really, I guess)!

Crazy Karneval costumes!

After having started drinking at around 9:15am (just like at Oktoberfest – these Germans are bloody party animals), we headed back not too late, after a stop off at McDonald’s to fulfil Shane’s McFlurry needs, and I slept as soon as my head hit the pillow (after I’d washed the mass of blue hair colouring in my hair, of course).

Then we come to today, which was a very lazy day indeed. It was another lie in (God help me when it comes to early mornings again on Wednesday) and we went again to Bento Box where I tried something different, without the word ‘Katsu’ in the name, but it was still equally as tasty, and now here I am sat on the train back to Hannover (well, to Hamm. And then to Minden. And then to Hannover – the things I do to save money!) slowly falling asleep.

It was a fantastic weekend, and it’s brilliant I can say I’ve hit yet another typical German celebration.

And to finish off this post, I thought I’d mention that today is my 100th day in Germany, meaning I’m now a third of the way between getting here in August and 31st May when my role as Fremdsprachenassistent is over (maths geek). This is an extremely scary thought, but I’m trying, and I feel mostly succeeding, to live every day to the fullest. I haven’t once yet spent the whole day inside (which I’d probably at least do on a weekend at home) which I’m proud of, and I don’t plan to change that any time soon!