Well, it’s over.
I’m now back in England, and am currently sat in Kings Cross waiting for my train which I stupidly gave myself a whole 4 hours to catch after my expected landing. To top it all off, a clever little someone sent his Railcard home along with all his other stuff last week, meaning I just had to buy myself a new one for £30 (it was either that or pay around £80 for a brand new ticket – and that is why I don’t understand why people seemed to complain at how expensive the trains are in Germany).
But let’s not stay all negative (apart from the fact that a small bar of Galaxy was 89p, a child wouldn’t stop screaming where I was sat earlier, I couldn’t find a bin for my Galaxy chocolate bar wrapper because we don’t have bins in train stations, and there are no lockers here to put my stuff in because we don’t have those either), let’s go back to my last month of my year abroad…
- 2nd August: Sehfest
The Sehfest lasted a few weeks in Hanover, and was basically a big outdoor cinema near to the football stadium. Along with Igor and Steffi, I went to the Sehfest to see The Hobbit in German. Though it was a lot longer than I expected it was going to be, it was pretty exciting watching a film outside with hundreds of other people, and I’m glad I managed to make it there anyway to experience it!
The one thing I would complain about is that the food stall there actually closed about 5 minutes before the half-way break?! I was so looking forward to some chips and had to deal with just beer (first world pains, eh?).
- 4th August: One Year in Hanover
What better way to celebrate my anniversary in Germany than a trip to the Zoo. Unfortunately, Fabi couldn’t join us due to him having to revise for his exams, but I went with Sabrina and we enjoyed some tasty pasta (which the wasps also seemed to take a fancy to, too).
In the evening, I went to see Lisa and Tobias, Lisa being my old housemate and Tobias being a teacher at my school, and we had a big barbecue together due to Lisa going to Australia for a month meaning I wouldn’t be seeing her again (at least during my year abroad). We also played a garden game which is a little hard to explain in writing, but it was good fun and a very angenehmer evening spent with lovely company!
- 7th August: Basketball
You read that right – basketball. Sabrina, Fabi and I went to the sports hall to go play some badminton, and after finding out the hall was closed due to some kind of refurbishment, we went outside to attempt playing badminton in the wind. This naturally didn’t work (though we gave it a good 10-minute try) and in the end Fabi thought it’d be a good idea to grab a basketball from reception and play with it on the courts. Though this evening resulted in a certain Gorilla Fabi running at me and tackling me lightly to the ground, meaning I (well, he) smashed my German phone, it was a fun evening. I forgave Fabi though (you slugweasel).
- 8th August: Marienburg und Abschiedsparty
My last day of the summer course saw my class going to Marienburg, which is a really pretty castle on the outskirts of Hanover. We went there to actually see a part of the history we’d learnt about during the past couple of weeks, and despite the bus ride being around an hour, it was quite worth it and I’d recommend it to others (though definitely recommended more to drive there because that bus ride wasn’t that great when I was expecting about a 20-minute ride before I asked when we actually got on…)
In the evening we had our Abschiedsparty (farewell party) where I got annoyed by millions of wasps but enjoyed tasty food and good company, and even had a boogy to Macarena (there’s just some sort of thing which makes it unavoidable to dance to).
You can read a little bit more about my summer course here: Sommerakademie 2013.
- 10th August: Curry Night
At last – some curry! Prepared for by pretty much everyone but me (I was late, I’m sorry), the curry was extremely tasty and enjoyed by myself, Igor, Sabrina (who will from now on be referred to as Zabrina due to her Facebook name otherwise it’ll get confusing between her and Sabrina from Menschingstraße), Chris and Sid. Zabrina also showed us this water with mineral stones or something – supposed to be good for you?
- 11th August: Maschseefest and being in the newspaper
Another trip to the Maschseefest, this time with Zabrina, Chris, Sid, and Chris’ housemate, meant we got our photo taken which then ended up being online on the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung (HAZ) website.
The photo was taken by a journalist who came up to us and asked if he could take our photo. At first, we posed with just a friendly smile, but the journalist said we had to look more like we were there to go partying, hence the really cheesy pose you can see on the left…
There’s nothing more I can say about the evening – you all know how much I love the festival and how much I now miss it dearly (though it was actually quite nice when it went because the Maschsee became a peaceful place to relax again).
- 15th August: Pub Quiz with Sabrina and Fabi
At first, Fabi recommended going to see some artists playing music at ‘Linden Palast’ – how amazing does that sound? Palast means ‘palace’. Well, we turned up to a tiny little bar to then find out the people playing music were ill so weren’t turning up. All depressed due to being excited about the idea of going to a palace to see some live music, we ended up randomly going to the Pub Quiz at the Dublin Inn in the Altstadt. Though we didn’t win (i.e. we came last), it was good fun, despite the Irish woman who was running the quiz being so drunk that now even I could understand some of the stuff she was going on about.
- 16th August: Grillen at Chris’
Going to a friend’s for a barbecue. What could go wrong? Aimed to get the BBQ started and eat around 8pm, we finally started eating around 10:30-11:00pm due to the barbecue (which was saw on the scaffolding outside the kitchen window) just refusing to start.
The night turned to Ring of Fire, which then of course turned to Faust (my favourite club in Hanover). It was a good night!
- 18th August: Kangaroo burger with Ilka
Now there’s something I didn’t think I’d on my year abroad – eat kangaroo. Ilka wanted to take me for a meal before I left, so invited me to a really nice Australian restaurant near to where she lives. I couldn’t resist trying a kangaroo burger, which was actually extremely tasty, and even her 7-year-old son who wasn’t keen at first ended up asking for a bit of mine. Her 4-year-old daughter, however, wasn’t keen at all, and was quite happy with her chicken nuggets, chips and tomato ketchup!
- 19th August: Day with Rachel
Rachel, who was an assistant in Oldenburg to the North of Hanover before moving to Paris for her second half of year abroad, came to Hanover for a few days as she was planning on going on a big travelling adventure with a friend of hers. I spent the day with her and showed her all the nice bits of Hanover, and we finished the day with a trip to Sausalitos (it was Monday after all!) where we enjoyed 50% off all Mexican food.
- 20th August: Polish food
Due to Igor leaving for Poland on 21st August and it being therefore the last chance for me and Chris to see him, he decided to cook us all dinner (the Polish are really gastfreundlich!). I can’t remember what it was we were actually eating, but it was extremely tasty – thank you, Igor!
- 21st August: Abschiedsfrühstück
I went to the school for my farewell breakfast with the other staff members, all of which brought absolutely fantastic food (from salads to cheeses and meats). I brought the brötchen, and it was a lovely way to bid farewell to my colleagues. I was also given a mug from the Zoo with ‘Hannover trifft sich unter’m Schwanz’ on it, as well as Mark Twain’s ‘The Awful German Language’ and a memory game of Hanover (I haven’t played it yet but it looks pretty fun!).
- 22nd August: Family arrived and meal with Ilka
To pick up all of my stuff, my mum, stepdad and brother came to Hanover. They arrived quite late on the Thursday, and we went for a meal with Ilka, my mentor, at none other than Bavarium. Adam, my fussy-eater little brother, actually enjoyed a Schnitzel! It was extremely strange to have my mentor and my family sat at the same table – it was weird enough having family in Exeter in first year, never mind having my two lives in different countries mixed up right in front of me!
- 23rd August: Schulparty mit meiner Familie und Mitarbeitern
My school couldn’t get rid of me that easily! On the last evening of my family being there, we went to my school for a big party to celebrate the school’s 40th birthday. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but we were welcomed with hundreds of smiley faces and teachers having nice conversations with my family. We were then slowly led to the hall where we enjoyed about 90 minutes of entertainment – from music played by the teacher band, to comedy scenes by the kids (which my family obviously didn’t understand so I had my little brother saying ‘What did they say?’ after every single joke said…).
- 24th August: Abschiedsparty
As Sabrina is moving out of the Menschingstraße accommodation and I was going back to England, we decided to have a joint farewell party – the theme was to dress up as something beginning with either D or S. Unfortunately, not too many people showed up with it being amongst exams and also because it was the summer holidays so many people had left Hannover for a month or so, it was a lovely evening – we had wonderful costumes, from me as a Deutscher in my Lederhosen, to Sabrina dressed as Summer, as well as Fabi as Don Corleone. There was also a seahorse and a sports teacher!
Afterwards, due to the trains being silly, I headed into town to meet Zabrina, Chris and Sid to have a fantastic night in the Faust – I’m going to really miss that place!
- 25th August: Braunschweig mit Elsa
Endlich habe ich meine Lieblingsmitbewohnerin ever gesehen! After a very delayed train journey from Hamburg to Braunschweig, Elsa arrived all exhausted, so we had a beer near the castle in the town centre which is a shopping centre. It was lovely to get the chance to see her again, and she gave me a diary covered in Hannover stuff (what more could I want?) for 2014 – I’m very excited to use it!
- 26th-29th August: Induction Course
I went back to the induction course as a former assistant, which you can read more about in this blog post: Altenberg revisited.
- 30th August: My Last Day
Slowly but surely my time was coming to the end, so after successfully asking to keep my bank account in Germany open until I return next year (assuming I do… which I probably will do), I met up with Fabi and Sabrina. Guess where we went? Yep, the Zoo. We just had a quick hour or so walking round the main parts so I could get a last look at all of the animals, and we also had a go on the boat trip – of course!
I’m really going to miss both of them and am really glad I had the chance to get to know them. But there were no tears when saying goodbye because I know for sure I’ll see them both in the near future when they come and visit England!
In the evening, Ilka picked me, my mattress, and the table and chairs she lent me up. Because of how lovely she is, she insisted I stay at hers so she could take me to the airport the next morning. We enjoyed some red wine and Downtown Abbey before an early night, ready for waking up at 4am. Like Sabrina and Fabi, I’m going to miss Ilka a lot – but hopefully she’ll be coming to visit me in Exeter with her husband (and possibly her children!) soon!
- 31st August – Returning to England
And, yep, here I am now in London. Back in England. After the very early wake-up, I kept drifting off on the plane (but stayed awake enough to not miss my free sandwich and drink as it was a BA flight like I did back in November which I will forgive myself about). And a long ride into the centre to Kings Cross, bashing a few people with my arms a few times due to me being so tired and drifting off and my elbow slipping off the handle bar, I am now sat in Kings Cross pinching Wifi from a nearby café. My train to Brough is leaving in about 40 minutes, where I’ll be picked up by my dad.
So, nearly 13 months after arriving on Saturday 4th August 2012, I have now completed my year abroad. I honestly think my tiredness is holding all the emotions inside right now, as I don’t seem to be as sad as I have been over the past few days – I guess that’s a good sign!
I’ll probably write a couple more blog posts as I can’t really leave it right at the end – maybe one in a few weeks when I’ve settled back in Exeter so you can see how bad I’m missing Germany. We’ll see how it goes.
But in the meantime, thank you for reading. I’m now going to buy myself a Boots Meal Deal (Orange Lucozade included, of course) for my train journey back up North.
I’m going to sleep well tonight!