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Friday, September 28, 2012

I simply stared at her as she stood in the doorway.

To cut a long, long story short - some drunk guy managed to get into her flat through her flatmate's window (as he left it open and they are on the ground level) and stole lollipops, alcohol, and a hair straightener, also breaking several mugs and trashing her flatmate's room on his way.

MANY, many apologies for having delayed this blog entry. However (as you will see) I've been pretty busy, all with meeting my Professor and spending 5 days with him, his family, and three other students on a crazy trip to Koblenz, starting orientation sessions at the Fachhochshule Gelsenkirchen, and - a brief trip to the infamous city of Cologne to watch a live gig!

But it is nice to know that I've got such a great audience - thanks y'all! Also a big thanks to Rafael Dias Sandoval, another Erasmus student from sexy Brazil, for sharing my blog on his site - check out his blog:

Anyways - back to my adventures in Deustchland :-) So, Kim decided to change residences and is now living close to university. She is fine now, living with a bunch of Romanians, a Belgian, and a lively American girl - very intercontinental!

The Trip to Koblenz

Last Tuesday. All us JPR (Journalism and Public Relations) students go to our tutor's office. Our tutor is a tall, bespectacled German with long teeth, twinkly eyes, and hair that does not look unlike small strings of spaghetti. Amiable, and bordering the eccentric, he goes by the name Professor Doctor Rainer Janz.

Striding into his office and winking at us, he announces that he will be picking us up that very day at 2pm to stay with him and his family in the city of Koblenz, until Sunday.

All of us being the civil beings that we are, we just raised our eyebrows at each other and agreed to be dragged to Koblenz for the week.
Spread out over the sides of the river Rhine, Koblenz is a fascinating city. Picturesque, with quaint white houses roofed with red tiles, it looks typically German. Greenery is everywhere, and the trees' long branches look as though they are reaching out and cuddling the city. Cobbled, clean roads with musicians on every corner, here artists have a real job; to make the city beautiful, and boy, do they take their job seriously! Castles dot the riverbanks, and a gigantic, 37m high bronze statue of Kaiser Wilhelm on a horse stands proudly at the confluence of the Rhine and the Moselle (it is known as the Deustche Eck).

We were well and truly exhausted by the end of the trip. Basically, we did a fortnight's worth of sightseeing in five days. Prof. Janz, being German, planned everything from dawn till dusk - and insisted that his plan be carried out exactly...

We went to a Celtic festival - which was amazing!
The little wooden stalls presenting different wines, spices, perfumes from the Orient, leather boots and sheepskin cloth, a robed woman with long nails, wearing lots of jewellery and a variety of coloured scarves, eyed us up and offered to tell our fortune; inhaling the smell of Auszogne, these delicious fried pastries topped with stewed apple. But - best of all - was the music. The rhymthic bass beat of the drum, coupled with wailing bagpipes, a mandolin, and a flute - really and truly took me to another era - one really got the feeling that they were living in a time where people showered only once a year!

We also crashed his wife's work party (by invitation) where we had free alcohol - and I discovered my love for 'radler' :P and also danced like crazy - the musicians playing enjoyed our liveliness so much that the singer stuck the mike in front of us at one point during 'I Will Survive' (those who know me will know what a coincidence this is!!) and we sang our faces off....all in all it was a pretty good time.

We went to a SchmetterlingeGarten - a large greenhouse/garden with a 1001 tropical butterflies fluttering around us - landing on our clothes and hair even!Snow White herself as she walked through the forest couldn't have been more enchanted! We also visited two castles and climbed up this wooden structure simply designed to give one a panoramic view of Koblenz, with the Rhine and the Mosel running through its heart. I also watched with fascination as our dear Professor enthusiastically attacked a typical German dish called Currywurst, which is basically a grilled sausage sliced up into little pieces with tomato sauce and liberally added amounts of curry powder on top...I could just imagine my brother's mouth watering....

And, More Recently...

So last week we started orientation sessions. I enjoyed getting to know the campus of the Fachhochschule; I like the modern-yet-somewhat-unkept feel it has, and the atmosphere of students studying (they have exams right now) in its hallways. I was pretty pleased to find out that the canteen has vegetarian food - cheap and delicious, too. Although, they serve the veggie burger with a generous helping of bechamel cheese sauce so thick, that after five minutes it has solidified once again into cheese. But it is pretty yummy.

Frustrated is the only word to describe how I felt with the language barrier (EVERYTHING was in German - all I could say was "Scheiße!"). So you can imagine my horror, when, each and every single JPR student had to STAND UP and introduce heart hammering in my chest, I stood up:
"Hallo, mein name ist Natasha, aus Malta, und ich bin zwanzig Jahre alt. And I apologise, but I've used up all my German for today."

Laughs. Phew...and I continue in English. Luckily everyone understands English (unless I speak at my normal pace!) so I was fine. Made friends with a few fellow students, in particular two very tall Germans. One of them does radio broadcasting,is also a sound engineer and a highly talented musician, the other one... well, he looks like an RAF pilot who walked out of 1942, and he does fire-fighting in his free time :) either way, I thoroughly enjoyed last Friday, when they were kind enough to invite me to watch a live gig (with the musician guy on the drums...again I think of my brother!!)in Cologne.

This weekend, spending most of it with the Erasmus students (who are really and truly a kickass bunch of people - everyone is smart, friendly, and really funny!). Next week will be visiting a dear friend in Northern Germany to see his hometown, and in the middle of the week, another dear friend will come to visit. All in all, life is not too bad.

Over the past month that I've been living here in Germany, I've really had a few dark days... when it really hits you that you are in this foreign country, with its strange ways of doing things and strange people, and all the people you love and who love you are far away... yes, you can call/facebook/skype, but it's not the same of course. But then, on a seemingly grey morning in the middle of the week, I woke up and went to to open the curtains. And I discover that God had left me a present outside my window.

I smile, and feel thankful in my heart. Because everything is going to be just fine.


  1. Hi Natasha,
    I really can feel what you mean with the language barrier. I am here in Turkey and it is so hard to remember all the strange words with their difficulut pronunciation. When I have to pay at the supermaket and the cashier asks something I really feel helpless and I cannot even say "Entschuldigung, ich verstehe nicht" in turkish. So, it must be very hard for you to learn German. But, dont't give up, I hope my people will help you just like the turkish people help me. And they smile when I say "Tessekür ederim" which means "Danke" after getting my change back.
    Say hello to Dorothy!

    1. Hi Katja! thanks for your comment - you made me smile! I had my first official german lesson a few days ago - and he told me that I've been learning very quickly so I felt much better! I think that all change is hard in the beginning...we just need to stick to our guns :)