Friday, 20 December 2013

Frohe Weihnachten

What a wonderful two weeks it has been. Filled with my birthday celebrations, various Christmas parties, and copious trips to Christmas markets, I have had the best December. My only gripe is that there was not more snow, but I am hoping for some when I return from Blighty in January.

Right now I am packed and ready to begin my long train and bus ride back to England (I have absolutely no idea what i was thinking when I booked this - I could kick myself. Although if I look on the bright side, I suppose it is more environmentally friendly and I did save 80 euros). Tonight I have the lovely pleasure of taking the 12 hour night train to Cologne before catching the 10 hour Megabus to London. I did remember to borrow lots of English books from the school library though, and I am well equipped with lots of German Bakery goodies and a neck cushion (had it for years - best investment I ever made).

Apart from the journey however, I am looking forward to going home. Despite the fact I've lived here for three months now and am pretty much used to it, I still get tired very easily, and I'm putting this down to the fact that constantly listening to, speaking, and reading German still takes more energy than it would if it were in English, and I am constantly in social situations with people I still don't really know properly, without the usual respite of being able to go home to relax with family or old friends. Having to be on your best behaviour at all times really does take its toll!

But when I reflect on my first 3 months here, I have nothing to complain about. I can now watch television and understand most of it without too much conscious effort, I am able to have long and decent conversations with people, and in the last few days have  found myself accidentally mixing the two languages together (which I'm taking as a good sign as it is a new development and I'm hoping it's evidence that my brain is starting to think in German - maybe wishful thinking, but I have to have something to hold on to). I was also very pleased that I managed to go to my staff Christmas meal and interact in German for a full 6 hours with no trouble. Simple pleasures eh....

I have also realised my talents as a teacher. When I say talents, I mean I managed to take a whole lesson alone with an entire class, and no major catastrophes occurred. My task was to take a lesson with 16/17 year-olds and teach them about Christmas in England. I was terrified the day before, when I was frantically planning (and crying on the inside), had a terrible night's sleep during which I dreamt I was being chased by a bear (the bear I'm assuming is a symbol...of something), and was almost dying by the time I got to school that morning. But, I would go as far to say I enjoyed it. I didn't dry up, forget was I was going to say, have an obnoxious class, or any other such disaster. I educated the class on the joys of crackers and mince pies (neither of which they'd heard of), and also showed them a video of a pantomime. They were terribly confused why these dancing, singing, gender-confused, brightly-coloured spectacles are so popular by the crazy English, and I'm sure that if they ever did have any respect for me it has all but vanished.

But now I must be off on my merry way. Farewell Deutschland, and Frohe Weihnachten.

Friday, 6 December 2013

A Fruity Delight

Well, today it is finally snowing and at last Bautzen looks like a Winter Wonderland. As I write this I can see the branches of the trees outside my window covered in a soft dusting. It hasn't been like this all week, however. Saturday was miserably grey and rainy. Still though, I managed to go on a 5-hour walk in the Saechsische-Schwiez (Saxony's answer to the Lake District), and although I was wet through, the views were astounding. Wherever I looked I was greeted with greenery, waterfalls, and tall granite rocks telling the history of time, and was lucky enough to be accompanied by someone who knows the area like the back of her hand and so was recounting the story of the place as we meandered through it. It is a tiring, hilly walk, but is definitely worth the effort, although I would imagine that to see it on a bright day would be to see it in its best light.

The rest of the weekend was spent at Dresden's Christmas markets - they have three. Of course, the obligatory Gluehwein (mulled wine) was purchased at each and every one, and I even managed to see a children's show featuring none other than Santa himself. And after we'd squeezed the most we could possibly get out of the markets, it was time for cocktails (what else?!), and Sunday night I was introduced to Pinta's cocktail bar and was more than pleasantly surprised. They weren't your average cocktails - they were practically sorbets, and came in every fruity flavour you could imagine. Deee-lish!