Another end of yet another month, namely the 10th month of my year abroad life. Most of the other british assistants have left/will be leaving very soon, with their last working day being 31st May, and seeing all their statuses on Facebook and talking to them about their last few days has got me really worried – I’ve got another 3 months yet and I really, really don’t want to leave, I can’t imagine what the other assistants have been feeling during these last couple of weeks!
But moving onto more positive things, here are my May highlights (i.e. the month of many public holidays):
- 1st May: ‘Tag der Arbeit’ Grillen
To start off the month, the Germans had a bank holiday, which is named ‘Tag der Arbeit’ (‘The day of work’). To celebrate, I was invited to Menschingstraße, where Sabrina and Fabi live, to have a barbecue with other Brits and Germans, as well as Alex, of course.
The weather was wonderful, and the food was delicious, and I even played football for the grand total of approximately 5 minutes (read ‘football’ as ‘kicked a ball a few times to either Fabi or Alex’).
- 3rd-4th May: UK-German Connection in London
At last came a weekend I’d been looking forward to since November – the second and final bunch of conferences for the UK-German Connection.
Thilo and I held a presentation on our Christmas Card Project (and I’d apparently forgot to tell Thilo about the fact our presentation was on the first evening… sorry about that!). We were even chosen to be the very first presentation which was a lot of pressure, but we got on through (though I was a little concerned when I walked to the front and Thilo showed me notes he had prepared – I had nothing.)
It was absolutely wonderful to see all the old faces, both British and German, back from November. We were treated to Pizza Express (dough balls and everything!) and the two-day trip was fantastic, but way too short!
- 4th-7th May: Trip Home
This time, there were no surprises and everybody knew I was coming home (a lot less stressful!) and it was lovely to see all my family again (especially Finlay because he nearly properly walks now!)
We had a tasty meal at the pub in Blacktoft, a nearby village, and I managed to avoid going for the chocolate fudge cake for dessert. By which I mean I had a brownie sundae instead.
- 9th May: Jazz Festival, Tiergarten & Meal with Sabrina’s Parents
9th May was an eventful day indeed. Phoebe and Shane were visiting, readying for our Berlin trip that coming weekend, and we started off the day with an unplanned visit to a Jazz Festival which was taking place right in front of the Rathaus. We met up with Jo, Caley and Tom there and enjoyed the wonderful weather and music.
Later on, we all headed to the Tiergarten (‘animal garden’) after I’d heard it was a good place to go to. It was no Hannover Zoo, but it was still pretty impressive, and also a really pleasant place to have a walk around.
To end of the day, we all went out for a meal with Sabrina and her parents, due to them visiting. We went to a greek restaurant, and the food was absolutely delicious, which unfortunately couldn’t be said for the two Ouzos we had at the end of the meal – it was basically sambuca with mashed up ice in it. I think.
- 10th-12th May: Berlin & Potsdam
As mentioned above, Phoebe and Shane were visiting due to a planned trip to Berlin. Just a 90-minute train ride took us to Berlin Hauptbahnhof where we greeted by Elsa, who was offering her flat to us for the weekend (i.e. 4 people on one double mattress and one single mattress pulled up together… It did actually work though!)
We did a lot of things which I did with Millie back in February, though this time we managed to visit the Reichstag and go inside the Kuppel (the big glass dome on the top) which was really interesting to do, and it was a nice that it was free, too!
On the Saturday evening, we met up with Gemma and her brother who was visiting for the week, and we went to play UV-Mini Golf (that’s right, UV-Mini Golf) which was absolutely fantastic! It was even 3D (in that the walls were 3D when you wore 3D glasses).
We visited the Mauerpark Fleamarket on the Sunday, where Elsa made a right bargain, in that she got a clothes rail and some coathangers for free. We even found a pile of clothes which had just been left behind, and Elsa found herself a jacket, and I got myself a shirt – all for free!
- 15th May: All You Can Eat Burgers
You read that right – all you can eat burgers. Fabi and Sabrina invited me along with some of their friends and Alex to a restaurant in the shopping centre in the town centre where you pay 9,99€ and you can have as many burgers as you want. Bescheuert! But being a wuss I went for a normal burger and chips and spent less. I don’t think I could have hacked 3 whole burgers like most of the Germans did at our table (brilliant display of stereotype there!)
The night led on to Roadhouse, a cool cocktail bar which is 2-for-1 cocktails on Wednesday. The night made fun, as a German may say.
- 17th-18th May: Herzlake
At long last it was time to visit Phoebe’s small German village in the middle of nowhere – Herzlake (which translates literally as ‘Heart Lake’). With around 4,000 inhabitants, it’s not the best place to be spending a year abroad, but Phoebe has fought through strongly – I’m really proud of her!
Herzlake itself is actually quite a pretty place, albeit the fact it’s tiny. Part of it reminded me of my home village in England, Gilberdyke, in that everybody said ‘hello!’ (well, ‘moin!’) as you walked/cycled past them, and it was just a nice, small environment, where it seemed everybody knew everybody (which could be taken in a positive sense or a negative sense…)
We made most of the time I was there (approximately 15 hours), and we had a little bike ride along the River Hase, despite the fact it was absolutely chucking it down – we probably looked like mentalists going for a casual bike ride in the weather we had. But it was good fun nonetheless!
- 18th May: Das erste Hannoversche Bierfest
Arriving back from Herzlake in the evening, I immediately left the house again to meet up with Alex, and we went to das erste Hannoversche Bierfest (The First Hanover Beer Festival). Though we popped to it, bought a drink, and soon left to sit along the River Leine, it was quite an exciting atmosphere – basically, the atmosphere you’d expect in a German festival, which there are a lot of here.
Ignoring the Pfand price being 3€, I got a really cool glass (see picture) with the beer festival’s logo on it. And the beer I had actually tasted good, too – I don’t think I’ve ever drunk beer and thought ‘this is actually good beer’ before. Apparently it was very bitter, but I just knew I liked it.
- 22nd May: Yet another trip to the Zoo
What can I say? I love the Zoo here in Hanover. I’m not sure how many times I’ve been yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ve hit double digits.
I went with Fabi again, and this time we did a lot of article learning. In German, nouns have genders (yes, it’s weird) – either masculine (‘Der Bär’ – ‘the bear’), feminine (‘Die Kuh’ – ‘the cow’), or neuter (‘Das Pferd’ – ‘the horse’), and, basically, it’s a right pain in the bum trying to learn them all, because there are no specific rules which help you learn loads. Well, there are some rules, but pretty much all of them have some exceptions. Yet I’m still here in Germany loving learning the language…
- 24th-26th May: Naumburg, Leipzig und Jena
This was a lovely weekend spent visiting 3 new Bundesländer – Naumburg in Sachsen-Anhalt, Leipzig in Sachsen, and Jena in Thüringen.
Naumburg is where Phoebe and I stayed the whole weekend, as our friend, Charis, is an assistant there, and actually lives in the school, which is a weird concept at first, but her flat is absolutely fantastic. In Naumburg, we watched the match between Dortmund and Bayern in a pub which was very much like a typical English pub. We also went to a shop called something like ‘Perlhuhn’ where you can make your own bracelets, necklaces, and other things, and I made myself a trendy wooden bead band thing.
We were supposed to go to Leipzig on the Saturday for the Holifest (which is the original reason for even going to Naumburg in the first place), which is a big music festival where you throw powder paint everywhere. Unfortunately, the festival was postponed (which basically means cancelled for us with Charis and Phoebe leaving Germany/moving all the way down to the south of Germany) due to a bad weather forecast, but we arrived in Leipzig in glorious sunshine. Which lasted the whole day.
Leipzig was a lot nicer than I thought it would be though. I had Magdeburg in my head, but it was by far prettier. We also visited the Stasi Museum which was extremely interesting, but unfortunately we couldn’t stay for the whole tour due to our train to Jena.
Jena is where another friend or ours, Jenna, is. We went to Jena for just one reason – Schnitzel Paradise. And it was way better than it sounds. The schnitzel was really tasty, and I had a ‘Schnitzel Hawaiian’ which came with curry sauce and rice. I’ve now typed my way to hunger and I could really eat that Schnitzel again right now…
- 31st May: ‘Mort’ Theatre Show at Alex’s School
And the final day of May (Happy 30th Birthday to my sister!) saw me going to Alex’s school for the English Theatre Group’s performance. Unintentionally, my expectations were quite low, but probably purely because I knew it was children in the performance.
To my surprise, I was extremely wrong – it was absolutely fantastic! I’ve never seen such a talented bunch of kids, and it’s hard to then think about the fact that, whilst what they were saying was so good, and their general presence on the stage was fantastic, they were speaking in a language which wasn’t their mother tongue.
I really didn’t want it to end. It was such a funny play, and there were some really talented kids performing! I’d recommend to you to go and see it, but unfortunately we saw the last performance tonight!
Et voila, that was May. 10 months down, 3 to go. I don’t want this to end whatsoever. If I could, I would easily choose to apply for an extra year here, but due to university I have to go back to England. But I’m going to make sure I make the most of this next 3 months!