The sun has come UP, the season has CHANGED
Hi there. Not sure you remember who I am? I’m Alex? On a year abroad in Boppard?
It’s been a weeeee while since I have written a blog (actually it’s been 3 months…!), mainly because I have actually had to do all that work for uni I’d been putting off since September… who knew?
Well, 16,000 words and many a German Brexit article later and I’M BACK WITH ANOTHER BLOG PALS.
As I am sure you know by now time goes pretty fast here in Boppard (lol) so a lot has happened in the last 3 months. With that said, so I don’t bore you (or distract you from all that revision) for too long, I am going to WHIZ through the events BLITZSCHNELL (that doesn’t sound right but without sounding like a proper year abroad dick by English has actually gone to shit this year – good thing I teach it ! ).
By the way, ‘Blitzschnell’ means ‘lightening’ fast = like the blitz in the war. But don’t mention the war. Or Brexit.
SO, LOS GEHTS.
Did you even do a year abroad in Germany if you didn’t go to Berlin?
So… 3 months ago lol… Becky, Rachael, Maria, Charlie, and myself all made the 6+ hour long pilgrimage to Berlin for the weekend, which involved going on my first ICE train. I was so so excited because I’d been on one when I was little, and I remembered it being so fast. Sadly, turns out it was not the rocket-like-train-thing I remembered.
It was really quite standard. BUT despite it looking and feeling like a very average train, at the time, it was the longest train journey I’d done alone so I was pretty happy just to get on the right trains tbh.
The reason we had headed to Berlin was to celebrate Rachael’s 21stbecause she had sadly had to spend her real birthday alone in her little German town with her landlady, the mayor. How good is year abroad?
ANYWAY, clever Charlie flew to Berlin (really very clever) meaning she not only arrived FAR before any of us who had decided to brave the train but could also decorate our little air b and b which was CUTE.
We did some of the classic sights…
Sadly, we didn’t see Ange but the Reichstag was VERY interesting (would recommend even if you don’t like German or history like me ha).
Next up was this little classic…
My inner historian was having the BEST time.
The PINACLE of my History and German degree.
As part of Rachael’s B day we had organised to see the Wombats (!!!)
Yes you got that right, the WOMBATS, in CONCERT, in BERLIN. Our inner 14-year olds were losing their shit. They were cool. We felt cool. Until a load of scousers came over and ruined the cool moment. Classic.
I also ran into a familiar face at a club after the wombats…
Despite us both doing a year abroad in the same country and doing the same job, Germany just is quite big (who knew) so I’m so glad Zoë and I managed to very briefly meet up, even if both of us were shit faced :).
Luckily throughout the trip we had a handy tour guide… She was a bit weird though and kept wanting to find veggie Bratwurst…
In the final evening Becky and I spontaneously went up the TV tower, despite being terrified of heights, and I don’t want to be dramatic, but it was MAGICAL.
I promise I am aware that I’m probably going to sound like a year abroad wanker here but really this trip to Berlin is so special to me, I felt so comfortable travelling and being abroad, and generally I was just having a really good time – who knew?! (Also, I knew writing these blogs retrospectively would pay off).
Becky and I flew back to Frankfurt which was much better and more exciting than the ICE train (sorry environment, I really think I have solely really contributed to global warming this year).
Still being winter (and really fucking cold might I add), February also included more. Fried. Carbs.
22nd-3rd March HOLS
I went skiing with my family which meant back to Austria and the mountains but this time without 70 14-year olds :). Skiing was fun and spoke actually a lot of German with our crazy instructor who took my brother and I for a beer at 11:30am, half way through the lesson… and after kept shouting “BEERY BEERY!” as we skied.
Even more reason I want to become a ski instructor.
Skiing was beauuut we only had 1 snowy day and it was so nice to spend some time with the family.
Was also SO NICE not to ski with 15 kids shouting “Frau Twemlow!” every 5 minutes, and without having to deal with nose bleeds / missed busses / German (really, you should read the blog here).
The week after I got my Gold D of E from the palace!!! Maybe all those blisters were worth it…
Aaaand I also had time to pop down to Exe for a cheeky TP…
See you sooner than you think Exe !!
What a few days this was. I landed back in Frankfurt and began the train / bus treck back to Bops feeling a little bit sorry for myself (often happens on the return to Boppard journey – because as much as I love it, it is just a small town in the middle of Germany where 90% of the population are 60+), BUT when I got off the bus I realised it was the day of Boppard’s carnival procession.
Oh yes, we might only have one decent supermarket and everything, bar one café and one bar full of men, might be closed for three months over the winter BUT WE DO HAVE OUR OWN CARNIVAL PROCESSION.
All the roads and pavements were closed off and lined with people waiting for the procession which meant there was no room for my massive suitcase and I to squeeze through. Wondering what I should do and remembering that famous quote “we can’t go under it, we can’t go over it, we’ll have to go through it” (knew it would come in useful in life), I headed down the main street which had been cleared for the procession and which was lined with people.
As I walked down the street there was a strange silence apart from a few sniggers – “Is she the procession? Why is she not dressed up? Isn’t that Frau Twemlow?”. Needless to say, the whole of Boppard knew I was back in town. I even waved a few times.
‘Karnival’ or ‘Fasching’ or ‘Fastnacht’ (name depends on where you are in Germany) is taken VERY seriously here in the West. The best way I can describe it is basically a massive pancake day. It celebrates the time before lent or ‘Fastzeit’, and basically Germans just goes CRAZY. I can kind of remember it from when I was little, but it mainly just involved getting dressed up, watching other dressed up people ride past me on floats, and trying to catch/dodge the sweets they threw at kids (kind of like missiles) as they paraded past. Little did I know all the adults were pissed all around me. Needless to say, my ‘karnival’ experience this year was far more exciting than just putting my princess dress on (even if it was from Disney).
The next day I headed to Mainz (a carnival epicentre) to meet Mairead and Maria to see what was going on. I got the 9:15 train and felt so out of place sipping my coffee as young and older people offered around beer, wine, and SHOTS. AT 9:15. Mad. I thought Germany had already had its fun for the year at Okotoberfest?? (Read that post here).
As soon as I met Mairead we grabbed some beers and got ready to watch the procession, which was strange. After what felt like a lifetime (and 3 beers) the procession went past us which included very elaborate floats, carnival CLUBS of people all dressed in the same carnival uniform (?!) and people walking past shouting “HELAU” with a wave which looked scarily like a salute…
After watching this cult-like parade, Mairead and I headed to Maria’s to pre with her flat before going out again (I mean when I say pre we were already 4 beers in but who doesn’t like a bit of day drinking?? I knew year abroad could be HASHTAGmental).
I really don’t remember much after leaving Maria’s. Which was strange because it was very much still light. And 3pm.
So apparently it pissed it down…
We had a photo shoot…
Then as it went dark I slowly sobered up a bit, and called Frau Nicky to tell her I would NOT be coming back that evening… I never ever ever want to hear that voice message I left her…
The next day I got the train back to Bops hungover (again) and when I got back Frau Nicky told me there was a special afternoon planned at the old peoples’ home for carnival and asked if I wanted to help. Despite feeling dead, the inner crowd pleaser in me said yes and I spent the afternoon singing German carnival songs I didn’t know to old people while trying not throw up and all dressed like this…
8th– 10th LYON
Blady hell March was a busy one because the following weekend I went to Lyon to meet the fam to celebrate my 21st.
This was such a lovely and special trip – the sun shone, wine was drunk, and generally I couldn’t stop questioning why the fuck I hadn’t done French…
On the Sunday (my BIRTHDAY!) I spent the morning being an adult…
And the afternoon taking the WORST FLIGHT OF MY LIFE.
I like to think I am now quite the seasoned flyer, I have definitely taken more flights over the last 12 months than I ever have done, and some of them have of course been better than others but fuck me this one was bad. I’m not really a nervous flyer (used to be, but the fear of going back to a foreign country alone has recently overshadowed any fear of flying I have lol) but here are just a few things which occurred on the flight:
- It was delayed by 2 hours because of 35mph winds in Frankfurt
- It was B U M P Y
- We circled Frankfurt 3 (very bumpy) times before we were allowed to land
- It took us 30 mins just to LAND because of the wind
- 3 people threw up
- The plane ran out of sick bags (???)
- A girl who was not sat next to her mum got up half way through the landing to run to her mum because she was scared and waa SCREAMED at by the air stewardesses to sit back down
- I had 4 Chinese people around me who acted like we were on a rollercoaster and cheered with their arms in the air every time the plane hit a bump
Quite a surreal end to my Birthday.
14th– 16th KATEEEE
KATE CAME TO VISIT!!!
This was the moment my year abroad had been leading up to, my lovely lovely friend Kate came to visit me, and it was FANTASTISCH in every way.
…Even if storm Gareth (?) meant it took her 4 planes and 50 hours travelling overall. THAT is the level of friendship we are talking here.
The weather may not have been fab…
And I can’t really cook here so the food was limited…
BUT Kate basically travelled 50 hours to sit and eat food with me in different small towns in Germany – if that’s not solid friendship I don’t know what is <3.
Wow March really was jam-packed! The following weekend I trained down to Munich for a weekend with ANA (if you are an avid blog reader you will remember this character from a previous blog).
The weather was PENG.
The company was PENG.
The beer was PENG.
On the Saturday we went WANDERN (hiking… well we got the cable car but lots of others were hiking) in the alps around a lake and it was BE A U TIFUL.
Again, with the fear of sounding like a year abroad dick, this was a really special day. The views were insane, as was the weather and of course, the company. Looking at other friends at uni at this time – I knew that next March I will have so much work to do, and yet there I was, just walking around a beautiful lake in Bavaria, stopping for beer and ice cream. As much as I (well, Ana and I both, mainly to each other) complain about year abroad, this day was a little moment to reflect on how lucky we were.
As we headed back to Munich, we were brought straight back to the reality of year abroad because our bus was late, meaning we missed the last train, and thought we were going to spend the night in the alps with nothing more than some chewing gum and an umbrella to keep us going.
Luckily, using our extensive experience with German public transport, after visiting a few strange Bavarian towns, and watching the sunset, we managed to make it back for a romantic dinner at Munich hbf.
After this we headed out still in our active wear – CARPE DIEM AMIRITE??
26thYR 13s LAST DAY
This was a bit of a crazy day at school, the equivalent of A levels are done so early here so even though this was still March, it was the final day for final year students.
In contrast to my final week at school (which consisted of dressing up every day / a flash mob in the dining room / finally heading to the pub), here the Year 13s staged a full on coup in the playground by locking all the doors into the school, and effectively trapping the all kids in the playground and preventing them from going to lessons. All of which was supported by communist flags and tribe like face paint…
All the teachers could do was sit and watch and I was loving it – VIVE LA REVOLUTION!!
So, as I was saying earlier, year abroad can be shit BUT there are some pretty cool parts too – like being able to ‘pop’ to Brussels for 24hrs.
We again had some lovely weather…
I had been really excited about being in Brussels on the 29thMarch but turns out there was no significance to the day at all, and all my radical EU dreams had been shattered.
Honestly though, when again will I be able to just pop to Brussels? Madness.
So that was all for March, and once it got to April there was just one month until the deadline for my year abroad work, so I decided to try and actually do some work (strange I know), so this month wasn’t aasssss exciting.
Having said that the weather had started to be nicer and so running along the river wasn’t as bitterly cold (really in the mid-winter it was almost impossible because of the wind, people just didn’t leave their houses – Bops was a ghost town L), so I did start running a lot more in April which was lots of FUN.
It is SO pretty running here I really am very lucky. I also seemed to manage to attract the strangest old men, here’s a couple of the strange-man situations I encountered in Boppard for you to laugh at:
- Got back from a run and was stretching in my favourite place when a guy over 60 tried to chat me up, telling me all about his training program, and asked me for a coffee (despite the fact I’d probably have gotten a free coffee out of it, I declined).
- Old man on the platform of the train station asked me for money, it was a lovely day, so I started to say yes, as I was finding the money he was telling me how he and Felix have been living on the streets for years. He was looking around for Felix (who I presumed was a dog), then he pulled Felix our from his hood – FELIX WAS HIS PET RAT WHO LIVES IN HIS HOOD. Good stuff.
April also included some more of Frau Nicky’s strange lunches like this meat pancake… I will NOT miss this part of year abroad.
BUT during this month the early mornings had started to get lighter (god I sound like such an adult) which made teaching at 7:45am much easier because let me tell you, walking to school in the cold and the dark didn’t really help those winter blues (January was a SHOCKER).
Aaaaaand finally before flying home for Easter my kettle-culinary skill really peaked because I worked out how to boil eggs in the kettle. This has TRANSFORMED my meals here – who knew!!! I like to call it a “kettle egg”. Inventive.
2nd– 5th PARIS
Juuuuust before heading back to Bops after the Easter holidays, I flew to Pairs to meet Becky and Rachael. Both Becky and Rach study 2 languages so are now in far more exciting places than rural Germany, including Pairs! (Really, I should have thought this year abroad thing through better…)
Paris was lots of FUN despite a few public chunders and the fact one of us getting fired… I shan’t name names, but it was eventful.
We had some lovely weather…
Saw a REALLY GOOD sunset from the arc de triomphe.
And generally, again I just felt very lucky to have met such lovely people this year who I have been able to just ‘pop’ and see in Pairs ❤ (and who are the best chunder body guards I have ever met, yep the chunder was me. Shock – I’m slowly ticking off major European cities to publicly chunder in – where’s next?!).
BACK TO BOPPARD!!
After what seems like AGES I am now back in Bops and have already had some fun adventures (I mean what else?) which I will quickly run through because some of them are quite funny. Well, I think they are, ha.
My first weekend back consisted of visiting different teachers’ houses which was cute, but also very very intense for my German.
Basically two lovely teachers at school had been wanted to invite me to theirs since the start of the year but I (as this blog shows) really like to plan my weekends in advance to make sure I’m not just sat in Bops (there’s enough of that in the week believe me), so this weekend just happened to be a free weekend and I ended up winning the teacher bingo and having a double whammy!!!!
I was absolutely shitting it. The ski trip is a long time ago now and after spending nearly 3 weeks in England for Easter I was worried my German had gone to shit. But luckily, without blowing my trumpet too much, I have become quite good at just whacking on some big girl pants and getting on with it now.
On the Friday evening I got the “Bimmelbahn” (literally means the ‘trundle train’, and is used for the train which just goes out of the Boppard valley, around the villages, and back) to Buchholz to go to a colleague’s for dinner. It’s times like this that I forget I do actually have a job and have colleagues ha, fancy that.
Dinner was lovely, and I was so proud of myself for managing the whole evening in German including a very long conversation about Brexit. Which incidentally is still seen as a joke here. Good stuff.
The following day I got up bright and early and, after submitting my dissertation topic nomination form right before the deadline (somethings never change), I got a train and then a ferry to meet a teacher in a strange bus stop where she took me to see her horses.
Year abroad is really quite strange sometimes.
After visiting the horses and learning some more exciting horse and animal related vocab – most exciting being ‘bocken’ which means ‘to buck’ (definitely should have looked that one up earlier), we headed back to Wiesbaden to have lunch with her family.
This was so so sweet, she has two sons who were so easy to talk to and reminded me of what its like living with a brother – for example I find the word ‘Küche’ (kitchen) really hard to pronounce, getting it confused with ‘Kuchen’ (cake and which is pronounced very differently) and every time I tried to say ‘Küche’ (quite a standard and important piece of vocab) both the kids would laugh at me. Fab.
We visited Wiesbaden (even if it was raining), and the next day Limbourg which was VERY PRETTY…
Yes, it was very intense for my German, but I am so so proud of myself for forcing myself to speak that much German, and I could even tell I’d improved! I EVEN DREAMT IN GERMAN. PROPERLY. LIKE A WHOLE DREAM.
I was so chuffed when I woke up I can tell you.
I’ve even started to take middle-age-woman-esc photos because I felt too awkward to ask someone to take one of me.
I think that’s enough from me for now – if you have got to the end of this post I SALUTE YOU because honestly that was quite the post.
Here are a few stats from the last few months:
Number of Brexit lessons taught = 6 (and counting)
Number of times I’ve been asked what will happen with Brexit = 60 (definitely counting)
Number of times I’ve been told our country is a joke = 600 (the limit does not exist)
Thanks for reading pals,
(Incase this caption and the title have confused you, Nina Nesbitt’s new album ‘The Sun Will Come up, The Seasons Will Change’ has been more or less the only thing I’ve listened to for the last 3 months, and the sun really has COME UP and the season really HAS CHANGED. Genius, I know).