On the Rhine, feeling Fine
Hallöööchen und willkommen to another year from everyone in Boppard! I’m not joking, everyone here in Boppard would wish you a happy new year if they could, literally EVERY teacher said “frohes Neues” to me on my first day back at work (literally “happy new one”) and shook my hand / did 2 kisses and a hug. Even after 5 months I still forget that’s a thing here, it just seems like a lot of contact, especially from teachers I literally don’t know… God, turns out I’m really quite British…
When I got back from my MASSIVE journey with 2 MASSIVE suitcases, Frau Nicky and I had a cute chat with a glass of Sekt (like prosecco but German and not quite as good) to toast the new year, bless her. Only been away from home for 12 hours and had already completed a 12-hour journey with 2 cases which almost (it had just been Christmas lol) weighed the same as me, where all lifts were conveniently KAPUTT (broken) AND a 2 ½ hour catch up in German with Frau Nicky… I quickly remembered what it was like being independent.
So, shocking as it may sound, I have actually been really quite busy over the last few weeks in Bops; ‘helping’ write my brother’s history coursework, going on ski trip with school (stay tuned for that in my next post, I have some whoppers of stories LET ME TELL YOU, you don’t want to miss it), and generally actually working. With that being said I am going to lay this blog out like a diary (innovative I know), because otherwise I think we will be here until June when I leave (which incidentally no longer seems that far away….). SO, I hope you like this lay out, sit back, and I hope you find my struggling a wee bit funny :).
Went back to work, got lots of hugs and kisses, felt very loved and a bit shocked because I didn’t know Germans were capable of showing that much affection. Tried to beat my post-coming-back-to-Germany-to-live-with-an-old-lady-blues and went for a run.
I did however end up being caught out in the hail and hating life even more. Had a good old cry in the evening and felt even better after it, not least because @rebeccagrimestone and I had a mutual cry in separate small German towns all through the MAGICAL power of snapchat. Amazing what technology can do !
Taught a whole lesson about journalism in Saudi Arabia and at the end of the lesson I still didn’t know what was going on. Think the kids learned a lot.
Thursday 10th Jan
Cooked lunch for Frau Nicky and myself (cottage pie) which, even without the magic of Bisto being on offer, was DELISH even if it took 3 hours because Frau Nicky kept turning the power off the hob because she still thinks there’s a war on. FAB.
POWERFRAUEN STATUS WAS REFOUND. I went to Mainz (where, given I have been before. A lot.), and did some sightseeing of my own. I went into the cathedral and took about 3000 photos of different murals and statues (dissertation stress is LOOMING), and literally felt like Sophie in ‘Letters to Juliette’, solo exploring culture in sunny Italy.
Only I was in cold, rainy Mainz, and a dishy guy called Charlie didn’t sweep me off my feet. Vanessa Redgrave also wasn’t there. Apart from that it was VERY similar.
So similar !
After the day of solo exploring (and getting quite lost) I managed to find Becky and we went for drinks with Maria and her boyfriend (aka a GerMAN) Leon which was so lovelyyyy and in a really cool bar in Mainz. I knew years abroad could be #cool.
What a DAY this was, hope you are all still with me to read all about it !!
Becky stayed over in Bops on the Friday night because we both had a totally free weekend, and after 5 months of living in small German towns, you learn that spending a whole weekend alone leads to lots of chocolate eating, watching love actually, and eventually lots of tears. SO, we had planned to be productive and visit Wiesbaden for the day. Sadly DB, Deutsche (fucking late) Bahn, had different ideas.
First train we missed, surprisingly not because we were late, but because we didn’t check the trusty DB app to see that it was in fact a bus we were meant to be getting… so waited on the platform for 10 mins before realising, there was literally no one else at the whole station. We then legged it back down the stairs to see our BUS drive out of sight. KLASSE (‘great’ and one of my new favourite sarcastic German words).
All was fine because we got a coffee and some bread … I am slowly realising that Germany is a country fuelled purely by bread (‘Brot’), kids and adults alike just seem to eat it ALL day and NONE of them are overweight. Absolutely WAHNSINN (hope you remember that piece of vocab from the last post!).
Once we were successfully, FINALLY, on our bus, our second train was delayed by 1 ½ hours. Not sure if you have ever been to Oberwesel but let me tell you, in the middle of January, it’s really not all that great to look at for over an hour, from a train window.
Cutting a long story short (strange for my blogs I know), it took us almost 5 hours to get to Wiesbaden (should have taken max. 2), and while we were en-route, we found out that the main attraction, another FESTUNGSBAHN (hope you remember this vocab!), was actually shut for the winter months…
So, we had travelled 5 hours to see nothing but more rain.
BUT on the plus side, Wiesbaden did still have its Christmas market up (??!) so we tucked into a very strange tasting, actually it was rank, “Dampfknödle” (like a steamed dumpling with vanilla sauce) and called it a day.
Met Rachael, Maria and Becky in Bingen for lunch at a cute Italian restaurant. Ate some yummy food including this egg soup…
That was all.
MORE SOLO EXPLORING!
This time I felt a wee bit more like Sophie in ‘Letters to Juliette’ because the SUN WAS SHINING! Honestly just seeing a bit of sun did wonders for my mood, I went to Koblenz with the intention of doing some work (because am HIGH KEY now a wee bit stressed I haven’t done any… what even is an ‘intercultural competence log’?!), but it resulted in me walking alone the river for quite a while, looking at all the work I had to do, drinking a coffee to try and motivate myself, and then finally in doing some shopping to take my mind off it. Some things never change.
Did a cover lesson which was actually a success for a change, I shit you not, we played my word game and it actually worked. I was so shocked.
The kids actually stayed in their groups, no one said “rude” words (like poo and bum, ha.), and, most importantly, war did not break out between the groups because no one (not even Felix) started cheating under the table (God, I didn’t realise how COMPETITIVE 10-year olds can get, even in a little word game).
That evening I also went to my first German ZUMBA class here in Boppard because I was getting too fucking cold and too fucking bored running (it hasn’t been above 0 degrees since I arrived).
MEINE GUTE (my goodness) what an experience, I arrived and tried to be as confident as I possibly could be (even though when I had been walking to book the class earlier in the week I had ‘accidentally’ walked past the gym 3 times, trying to build up the courage to go in). Despite this I was there, and I was ready to give it my best shot (or try to with all the instructions being in German).
WELL, the instructor was a really lovely lady, think 80’s gym instructor combined with the character from ‘Justdance’… Bleached hair, fake tan, leg warmers – THE WORKS.
If I wasn’t already struggling not to laugh, during the difference dances she would get everyone to periodically scream, and I don’t mean just a little shout, I mean a full-on-Troy-Bolton-SCREAM.
And if she thought it wasn’t enthusiastic enough, she would just keep aggressively shouting “ALLE” (“EVERYONE”) until everyone was screaming. Honest to God I don’t know how I got through the hour without having to leave because I was trying not to laugh so much… so glad I’ve paid for another 9 lessons!!!
Remember what I had said about teaching a successful cover lesson the day before? Haha. Forget it. I did the same lesson for a year 6 class and let me tell you, it was NOT as successful.
All the groups chose what, I’m pretty sure, were rude German team names, but I couldn’t tell because my rude German vocab is not great, so I wrote them on the board anyway and had them all sniggering for the whole lesson. Good start.
Then as part of the game they had to think of a hobby starting with the letter ‘S’. One of the little shits said “smoking”, because “you do it often and you enjoy it”. After this I spent the whole lesson trying to explain why smoking is NOT a hobby in German because I really wanted to get the message across.
Tip: do NOT try and change the smoking culture of Germany purely through trying to talk to 24 11-year olds for 10 mins in your second language. It doesn’t work – in fact I’m pretty sure they actually left thinking smoking was a perfectly fine hobby, and I probably accidentally encouraged them all to take it up ASAP. Another good day at the office.
On the plus side, I forgot my fluffy hat at home, so mum sent me it in the post, with some English chocolate and that made me smile :).
ANA ARRIVED!!! Apart from work and go went for dinner, that was about it for this day.
This is Ana – a new character for the blog! We both study German and history and are both enduring year-abroad life as speaking assistants at opposite ends of Germany this year. Don’t know what I’d do without her in this weird land.
Ana and I decided to go to Bonn for the day and it was so EXCITING. It was so, so lovely to have someone else to go exploring with, and it was a BEAUT day. We had lunch in this yum Vietnamese place, which was nice because in Boppard the most exotic food you can get is pizza… or a dodgy dönner if you are lucky.
Did I mention Bonn is a MEDIEVAL city?! Very EXCITING for two historians !!
We saw lots of CULTURE, including this weird bench – love seeing new sights !
We walked around the city, which was really pretty but also really COLD, so we ended up in a museum about German history (what could be better for 2 German and history students!!) and Ana got really excited and took lots of photos. It was an extremely exciting end to the day.
When we got back to Bops, we went out for dinner in a deserted Italian / Greek restaurant (odd vibe), because literally everywhere closes in Boppard in the winter. Ended up being just us eating dinner, so we drank our wine (a little too) quickly and left for some Boppard nightlife. HA.
We went to a few different bars, all with their own selection of creepy German men (would it be an evening in Bops without them?!), before ending up in the infamous DIE FALLE.
If you remember from my previous post (true fans will), this is the “club” in Boppard… basically a cellar with a bar and some funky lights, but after the combo of strange drinks we had already drunk we were ready for some DIE FALLE action… or I was lol, I don’t really drink here, so after ½ a bottle of wine, a strange cocktail, and a few beers Die Falle could have been TP for all I knew.
I would actually recommend DIE FALLE to a friend – if you like cheap beer, bumping into 16-year olds you teach, and chatting shit to them all evening, it’s a fab way to go.
Believe it or not I was actually really quite hungover after our evening in Boppard. I’m not sure if it was the dodgy cocktail or the fact that I don’t drink more than a glass of wine very often atm (not out of choice, but because having more than a glass by yourself seems a bit sad ha, lol). I even chundered the next morning (unHEARD of… Oktoberfest I’m looking at you), conveniently when Frau Nicky had turned the water off, so I couldn’t flush it for an hour. Love it.
After a shaky start to the day, Ana and I headed to Koblenz for lunch and to see the sunset from the top of the gondola (one of the few things open here in the winter… only at weekends though, let’s not get too excited).
We timed the sunset PERFECTLY so here are a few GORGE pics…
… Even if we did have to break in to take them
Ana left 😦 BUT the sun was shining so I went for a cute walk of my own in Bops – really, I am lucky to live in such a lovely… if small place. That was pretty much all I did, year abroad sometimes really isn’t that exciting ngl.
Helped Frau Nicky pay her electricity bills online, which was stressful because everything was, shock, in German, and I don’t understand QR scanners even in English… It did however mean I was allowed into the cellar and saw spiders I didn’t even knew existed in this country. There is SO MUCH WINE DOWN THERE !! But even for me, the spiders make this too Indiana Jones-esc to be worth getting it out… I mean LOOK AT IT.
Went back to Mainz for lunch with Becky at a yummy Mexican AND found some carrot cake (very rare here), but had a HORRENDOUS journey home on the trains. I shan’t go into details but to anyone, if you feel uncomfortable on public transport, especially if you are travelling alone and you feel you can, MOVE to a carriage with more people. Don’t give others the power to make you feel uncomfortable <3.
In the end all was fine and I got back in one piece but sadly the RE2 train lost its status as my favourite train :(.
Shout out to Sally Rankin for always being on the end of the phone all the way from Bristol, what would I do without you x.
Tuesday 22nd/ Wednesday 23rd/ Thursday 24thJan
All of these days were pretty uneventful, I ‘helped’ write my brothers coursework some more (which made me miss writing essays … that’s when you know you have had a slow few days).
I did teach a really funny class about fables. Yep, really.
The kids (tbf they were like 16) had to re-enact a fable in a ‘modern day’ way, most of which included a lot of swearing which I thought was really funny… then I realised I was a teacher and so tried not to laugh.
But to be honest even the main teacher was laughing away lol.
I also went to see Macbeth by an English theatre group with the year 12s in Koblenz, which I mean was actually quite good, but let’s be honest it wasn’t quite the RSC. I did however sit on the front row with the other teachers and felt really touched that they had asked me to go! Even if I was a second thought because someone had pulled out lol… maybe I can manage a week with teachers on ski trip…
(Editing Alex: Ha. Ha. No u can’t, keep dreaming x)
Went back to Mainz and had lunch in the same Mexican but this time with the lovely Rachael and Charlie… I’m sure there are other places for lunch in Mainz but that Mexican is “sehr LECKER”. I also, thank God, had a far less eventful train journey back from Mainz, even if I had felt stupidly anxious about it after last Monday.
The rest of the day I PACKED and PANICKED about going on the ski trip with school… I’m not even a teacher let alone a ski teacher – yet another point in my year abroad where I thought to myself “WHAT AM I DOING?!”
Seeing as this is already SO LONG, I apologise, but I will save ski stories for the next post so stay tuned for that little (massive) PALAVA.
Best purchase: THERMAL LEGGINGS, honest to God, get yourself a pair, 6 Euro from Rossmann and an absolute LIFE SAVIOUR. Would recommend wearing under all trousers, just don’t forget when you go to the loo.
Best quote: 10-year old “Do you have sweet potatoes in England”, me “Erm… Ja”. Genuinely think they think England is a different planet sometimes.
Lesson learned: Don’t go to bars where your students are, you will definitely chat shit to them and regret it in your next lesson.
VIELEN DANK for reading… next post will be skiing and trust me that is one you do NOT want to miss.