My penultimate week in Germany in 2012

I thought to myself every day this week ‘you need to write a blog post soon. You’re doing too much and you’re going to end up with a gigantic post at some point’. And, due to doing so much, I didn’t get round to writing a post until now, as I have a double free period at school (so many cancelled classes recently…). So here’s my post about my penultimate week in Germany in 2012. I’ll cut things down to a minimum, otherwise this blog will go on a long while!

So last time I wrote, I had lots of chocolate and wonderful other treats for both my birthday and Nikolaustag. Well, I still have loads of it left. My aim is to eat it all in the next week, so don’t be too shocked, Mum, if I’m quite large when I return. At least it won’t be the same old ‘you’ve lost weight’!

It's a true story!

It’s a true story!

On Friday, I finally had a trip to Hameln, which in English is ‘Hamelin’. This is where the famous Pied Piper story originates, and it just so turns out the story is partly true, in that 130 children were led out of the town in 1284 by a piper wearing multicoloured clothes. I honestly always thought the story was just a fairytale! The main reason for hitting Hameln was the Christmas Markets, which were really nice, as all German Christmas Markets are. I managed to get myself a cup too, which has Hameln on it and a picture of the Pied Piper and mice and things like that (and thus began my aim to get Christmas Market cups in as many cities as possible!)

After only a few hours in Hameln, we, namely Millie, Shane and Lucianna, all headed back to Hannover and met up with Elsa, my housemate, and after a good half an hour trying to find somewhere to go for a drink (discovered to be impossible on a Friday evening when there are Christmas Markets and also late-night shopping), we headed back to ours and had a nice chat in English with wine. It was nice to hear Elsa speak English – she has a very British accent after having done Au-pair in England a few years ago!

The Christmas Markets in front of the Rathaus.

The Christmas Markets in front of the Rathaus.

On Saturday, we headed to Hamburg. I’ve been to Hamburg 3 times before, but it was still nice to see it covered in snow like 2/3 years ago when I was on my exchange. We split into two groups; one group went to do a bus tour, and myself and Shane went to go see the Miniatur Wunderland, where I also went when I was there on my exchange, but unfortunately there was a 40-minute waiting time, meaning we slowly headed back to the town centre, me feeling quite gutted, but we soon cheered up with a visit to the Rathaus (town hall) and a look around the Christmas Markets (yes, I got a Hamburg cup!)

And then things started to get a little bit strange. Shane mentioned we were going back to Millie’s after Hamburg to play a bit of table football, which I didn’t know anything about, but didn’t think anything to it. And I also thought it was a little strange how we left at just 5pm, especially when Shane got a little defensive when I told him it wasn’t the end of the world if we didn’t travel back with Millie and everyone else. And then when Shane said we should head back to mine first before we go to Millie’s, and I live at the other side of train station to Millie, that’s when I got suspicious something was going on, but I really couldn’t put my finger on it. I had an idea, but I didn’t want to get myself too excited, just in case I was making up the story in my head.

Me and my 'D' birthday cake.

Me and my ‘D’ birthday cake.

We then got to Millie’s, who interestingly turned up just on time to open the door for us, I walked into the common room, and – BOOM – I had a surprise party. Lucianna, Sabrina and Fabi jumped out from behind chairs with balloons (Alex Brown was meant to be there too but he was late. Typical Alex Brown.) and I was, well, surprised. There was food, drink (especially Becks Green Lemon) and music, as well as table football and pool. It was a really nice atmosphere, and it was also quite nice how there was only about 7 of us there – it made it feel that little bit more special and less chaotic. After eating cake in the shape of a ‘D’ (the ‘A’ and ‘N’ were apparently eaten), the Britons headed out to Baggi, which is a club behind the main train station which I’ve always wanted to go to but never had chance. In comparison to Dax, where I’ve been quite a few times, it was brilliant. Smoking wasn’t allowed (apart from that one douche) and decent music was actually played. The night was made when we left at about 2:30am and it was snowing like crazy!

Sunday was an extremely lazy day (I don’t think I’ve ever got out of bed so late), and Millie, Shane and I, along with Callum and others, went to go see a football match – this time it was Hannover 96 vs. Bayer Leverkusen. I showed off my Hannover 96 scarf as the team walked onto the pitch, and this game was actually the most exciting I’ve seen, ending with Hannover 96 winning, despite Leverkusen being 2nd in the league, and Hannover being about 11th! (Look at me speaking all football language!) The night was then complete with none other than Jim Block.

On Monday, I had an extra class in school due to the kids having to finish their Christmas cards to send to England as part of the UK-German Connection exchange, and in the evening, Millie, Rosie and Roman (Rosie’s housemate) had a trip to Sausalitos for half price food and 5€ for a jumbo cocktail.

The ice-skaing show in the Autostadt.

The ice-skaing show in the Autostadt.

Tuesday was quite an interesting day for me because I went to help out in a different school for the first time. Ilka teaches at both IGS Roderbruch, as well as a Gymnasium (the high-level school) called Sophienschule. I basically just went in for one A-Level class, but it was really interesting to see the big difference between the Gymnasium, and my school which is a Gesamtschule (a mixed school). Generally, the students actually listened when Ilka spoke to them and when others were doing presentations. Here at IGS, there’s often kids who don’t care too much, but you could tell at the Gymnasium that the students did really want to learn. Admittedly though, the general environment felt quite strict. Not the actual class itself as Ilka is a very nice and friendly teacher, but there was just something about the whole place which felt a lot more formal. I’m helping out there again next week, too.

In the evening, I went to Wolfsburg to meet up with a few other assistants who are in Niedersachsen and we went to the Autostadt to watch an ice-skating show which was brilliant. From what I can guess, there’s a new show every week, and it all makes one big story. It was hilarious watching a bunch of dragons dance on the ice to ‘Sexy And I Know It’ and other wonderful songs. I unfortunately didn’t get a Wolfsburg Christmas Market cup due to their being none that actually said Wolfsburg on them, apart from a really weird one which I did only see after I bought my Kakao mit Sahne.

Sorry this is all looking like diary entries, but on Wednesday I had school in the morning which was same as always, but due to class tests, I had the afternoon off, so Millie and I had a stroll into town, bought certain things which practically make us German (Apfelschorle and Prinzen Rollen), and then went to the Mensa with Elsa where I tried by first Mensa Currywurst. Currywurst is definitely better elsewhere, but it was still nice.

Wichteln in der Menschingstraße.

Wichteln in der Menschingstraße.

Then, in the evening, we had the Christmas party at Menschingstraße where I lived last month. In Germany, they have ‘Wichteln’ which is similar to our ‘Secret Santa’, but Wichteln can have different rules. I think Wichteln can be like our Secret Santa, where we draw a name from a hat and have to buy something for that person, but we played it where we all bring a present, draw numbers, and then the first person gets to pick an unopened present, the second person gets to pick an unopened present OR steal the present from the first person, the third person gets to pick an unopened present OR steal the present from the second person OR the first person, and so on and so forth. If your present gets stolen, you get to pick another unopened present. There were 15 people in total, and I was number 11. I brought 12 Christmas Crackers as a present, and I ended up with a beautiful 8€ voucher for Jim Block. It’s as if they knew or like Derren Brown was there and made me pick it subconsciously. The last 4 people, including Millie who was last, were nice enough to not steal it either. Before we did the Wichteln, we watched a Christmas episode of Mr. Bean (it was beautiful) and sung Christmas songs together with Fabi who played his trombone, and we all drank Glühwein and ate Lebkuchen. It was beautiful.

Thursday, i.e. yesterday, saw me going on another day trip with a class from my school. I’ve been told that my school has a lot of trips due to it being a Gesamtschule – there’s more ‘hands on’ stuff, and not just sitting in a classroom learning from a book. So I’m definitely not complaining about me being in a Gesamtschule – it’s so much fun! This time, I went climbing (indoors!) with the 5th class who I’m doing the Christmas card project with. Though I didn’t climb myself due to probably being a bit awkward as the kids were set challenges and stuff, it was good fun to spend the day with one of my favourite classes not in a classroom, despite the fact that they decided it would be a hilarious idea to stand outside the building after we’d finish and lob snowballs at my when I stepped out after everyone (27 snowballs being thrown at you, including one in the eye, is not that much fun). I did get to a point though where I got quite angry with them because they just wouldn’t walk fast, so we had the teacher well ahead with about half the class, and the other half dawdling behind not thinking they should actually catch up. It was like having 12 or 13 of my brother. It was a good day though.

In the evening, I went with Matthew, who’s in Hildesheim, and Nathalie, a Swiss assistant in Hannover, to the cinema to see Cloud Atlas which was absolutely brilliant. It’s not actually out in the cinemas until February in England, and it was such a complicated film that I definitely didn’t understand the whole plot in German, but it was definitely my kind of film where things link together and there’s always a lot of ‘noooo waaaaay!’ and ‘it all makes sense now!’ kind of moments. I’m probably going to buy the book. But in English, so I’ll be able to understand more than half the plot.

And now we have Friday, and I’m currently sat in the staff room on my two hour break, waiting for my lesson with the 5th class (they’ve made quite a few appearances in this post!) Straight after school, I’m heading to Cologne to meet up with Shane, Phoebe and two other Exeter Uni students, Kate Gabrielle and Anna, I mean, Heeeeeeane, who are spending their year abroads in Spain. It’s definitely going to be a fun-filled weekend!