Saturday, July 29, 2006

Kiel is somewhere

Well my first month of being an acting Director of Studies is almost over and it hasn't gone too badly. This is mainly because I've only been teaching about ten hours a week, which makes it a lot easier to do other things like hire new people, reorganise the library and throw away about four years of accumulated paperwork and dead plants. The two people I interviewed on the phone appear not be axe-murders, drug addicts or maniacs of any other kind. This is hopeful.

It could all go pear-shaped very quickly, however, because the secretary has gone on holidays and I have always suspected she ran the school. Unfortunately she is not being replaced so our customers will have to deal with my boss, who's often teaching, or me, who knows nothing. This is in the fine tradition of temporary staff, who inevitably can't help you with what you need, don't know what you're talking about and will have to refer you to X, who is on holiday.

This weekend I'm in Berlin- as usual I love it, love it, love it- and on the train on the way here I gave myself a treat and bought an English paper. I was enjoying understanding more than headlines and keywords when I came across an article that stopped me in my tracks. It was about a German/Turkish writer who has done very well and was doing a book reading in Berlin. Not so thrilling? But wait. I start reading the article about what it was like for him, being the son of Turkish immigrants in Germany, and how in his home town of Kiel... what?! I almost fell off my plush inter-city train seat. The man is from Kiel? And is now famous? And rich? Hurrah! I left the train with the sense of arriving in one literary capital after leaving another. I knew there was more to Kiel than the suit-wearing, seasonal-vegetable eating, non-jay-walking crowd I know and love.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I'll have some torshy thanks

Apparently torshy is another word for pickles in Arabic. Who knew. And how did we survive wihout Wikipedia?

The end of a rather small era

Can you tell we're in northern Europe...?

Too cool for school (not me)

Last week I officially finished my short teaching job at the vocational school and it was very sad. Things I'll miss: students who are younger than me and who I could make blush, the very polite secretaries, calling myself Frau T*rsh, shaking hands with everyone in the mornings, working at a big school and being able to play games in class. Things I won't miss: being eyed by every male student as I walked down the corridors, having to trek upstairs to get the damn dictionaries and then to put them back again, having to remember all my colleagues by both names, watching my favorite students get paid out by their mates for stuffing up their English and being called Frau T*rsh by everyone else.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Summertime I get around

Summer in Kiel.

It is thirty degrees- that's why Germany lost the match, according to one commentator. It was the same excuse the lady at the bank gave me as to why the printer wasn't working- too hot. The queues at the ice-cream shop are enormous and rising by the day, it opens at eleven and as I rode past this morning there were forty people standing outside it at twenty to. And three groups of teenagers making their way towards it, I heard one yell to the other group, the ice-cream shop is closed! Groans from everyone.

I am the only person in Kiel wearing a hat, apart from Arianne, another Aussie friend of Simon's, and a punk wearing a cap, probably for the freak value. Road workers turn and stare, children point. I ride on, knowing I won't get skin cancer.

The gummy bears Arianne bought are melting, the posters are falling off the walls at work, the chocolate in the stores is mush. Not many companies are air-conditioned, this morning I went to the bank I teach at and the student's office was heating only, no cooling. The only shops which have cold drinks are some major supermarkets and the petrol stations.

Today I have bought a singlet in Germany for the first time ever, and a natty pair of knickerbockers. It is hot.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Berlin! Berlin!

Oh thank god, the Germans won. The national mood has never been this good, and I don't have to listen to all my students complaining all week. Hurray!