Saturday, May 20, 2006

A spring wedding


Torshy, 27, witness.


The glamorous couple



My lovely cousin once removed, Tomas, father of the groom.


In the rain, unfortunately, but that wasn't going to stop me getting excited about being a witness and putting up my hair. We got on the train at eight in the morning and caught the train back at ten thirty at night- I had forgotten how weddings are so exhausting- and spent most of the day ducking between shelter and the rain, the parents of the couple met for the first time and the registery office was strangely formal and preoccupied with paper but despite all that the couple themselves spent the day beaming, entertaining their guests with incredible graciousness and generally making us all reach for the bucket.

One odd thing for me was that there were no speeches or anything about the people themselves and the parents weren't very involved, but since I'm not intending to get married at all I have to say they were more involved than mine ever will be. At least they got a wedding out of it all. Also the vibe was a bit stiff, I introduced myself to Friederike's brother and he looked at me like I was mad. Nice kids though.

There were kids everywhere (Simon was disappointed that they were quite well-behaved and not wiling to play with him and destroy the house) and not much drunkenness to be seen. Understandable from Friederike's point of view since she's up the duff, but on the whole kind of odd. Not sure if it was the sobriety or the well-behaved children which freaked me out- could there be some kind of link there?

Family family. What an odd thing it all is. My hair looked nice though, which is something.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

It's a mad world

Random crazy new life moment- doing ski gymnastics at the Uni yesterday to the I-want-to-kill-myself track, It's a mad world, from the film Donnie Darko. Me and fifty Germans rotating our pelvises to lines like "The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had".

On the weekend we had our sharehouse party and it was surprisingly fun. I managed to stay up all night which was good, given that we had two DJs pumping incredibly loud music from two rooms away and sleep was pretty much out of the question. The whole flat filled up by about half-past twelve- they like to do things later here- and Andy was trying to kick out the last guests at six in the morning, when the police arrived. Apparently they were quite pleasant and offered to help. The girls from my old flat came and it was lovely to see them and feel like I had friends. Matt's flatmate Judith also came, who is lovely too, so all in all we weren't the sad flatmates without guests we thought we'd be. Some of Simon's new workmates came too, one of whom was hilariously uptight. She told me, while her German boyfriend was sitting next to her, that the continental Europeans simply couldn't be sensitive and were starting, slowly, to learn how to respect other cultures. Uh huh.

Yesterday I met our new English colleague for the first time- totally intense guy with a life drama situtation to rival the best of them. While chugging as much wine into himself as he could, he told me all about his awful marriage break up and his various successes and failures- including an MBA at a prestigious university and being bankrupt. He's only here for his son, which is sad and also kind of beautiful. Talking to him was so intense I almost had to go and have a cry afterwards, it was all so ghastly. Can't wait for September, when I get to manage him.

This Friday is Martin's wedding and the weaher is looking a bit dubious- grey and kind of wet. Hopefully some miracle will occur and the sun will burst out and bless the day. Now I kind of wish I had an alternative cold weather outfit, damn it.

Life is like, sooo hard.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Being a teacher is fun

A lovely morning class at the technical school- although I haven't left yet so there's still a good chance I'll be verbally sexually harrassed on the way out. Actually that's only hapened once but given that it's spring, ninety percent of the students here are males between the ages of sixteen and thirty and I'm now wearing short sleeves, the staring and not so whispered comments have started to become a pretty frequent occurance. And also the whole building smells like BO.

I really like teaching the students here sometimes- it's fantastic to work with young people who think everything you tell them is cool and interesting, even if it's just 'in Australia it's really hot in December' and they just soak up the language in a way adults just can't, really. Also they've got that young persons's enthusiasm for activites, which is to say that sometimes they look at you like you're the most boring thing they're even seen and sometimes they have so much fun they forget they're learning at all.

Today I had the brainwave to mix up the groups so they were not sitting with their usual friends and asked them to tell the group how to do something, even something simple. Just the right thing to say to a German... I also told them that anyone speaking German in the ten minutes would have to buy me an ice-cream- in Spring they become the national currency- and amazingly, it worked. Even those who are reluctant to speak spoke, and some who are slow speakers but enthusiastic had the chance to speak with no-one interrupting them.

One group were laughing so hard, presumably at one member's attempts to get around my 'keep it above the belt rule'- totally ineffective I might add- that I almost didn't recognise them from the surly students I had last week. Another student called me Miss T*rsh, at which I told him off, and then he asked me heaps of questions, calling me Hanna. I think it's just so exotic to them to be able to call teachers by their first name- crazy kids.

One of my pre-reading activites was to write down four words connected with a country. Two samples of words for America:

Area 51, white house, war, Bush

highways, big country, Statue of Liberty, freedom

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I have proof





A lovely weekend talking to people at home and lying in the sun on our roof. I even have photos to prove that it was sunny.

Simon and I went to the market and Saturday and spent a small fortune on fresh fruit and vegetables that were actually tasty as opposed to the even more overpriced crap you get in the supermarkets here. We made asparagus with butter, roasted beetroot salad and pan-friend mushroom in bear-garlic- very popular here. Washed down with a lot of white wine. It was fantastic.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Budapest, Prague and Dresden pics



So glad to be on holiday- our first evening in Budapest.




The gorgeous old Synagogue in Pest.




Inside the Synagogue.




The flooding Danube.




In Prague with my lovely Czech student from Sydney who took us out for a night on the town.




Matt after eating a pig's knee in Prague.




Drinking the world's best beer in Prague.




Exhausted but cool in Dresden.

Sunny days

Yesterday I was invited to a colleague's house from the technical college in Gaarden (not a misspelling) and I was so knackered from the weekend I almost didn't go. But since it's almost a criminal offence to waste a long weekend I decided to drag myself off the bed and trek out to a village an hour away from Kiel.

The day started off like a typical Sydney day- at least as far as I can remember- sunny, a light wind and about twenty degrees. It was so lovely to sit on the train with the shafts of sunlight across my face, watching the green fields rolling off into the distance and the cows grazing. I don't think I've ever noticed that there were any cows up here.

Anyway then I got onto a bus which meandered its way through Neum√ľnster and off to the little village where Monica lives. It had bus stop names like 'church' and 'school', as well as rolling past a traditional Mayday beer and sausage gathering (we call that a barbeque right?) sponsored by the CDU- the Christian Democrats in the town square.

When I got to their cosy house, a two storey semi-detached with a garden and a big living area, a nice change from pokey little apartments, I was immediately presented with a glass of champagne and given the tour. It has been so long since I've been in a house filled with books and art that it was like returning home. I was given a wonderful lunch, plied with wine and told all about the wildlife around here, which apparently includes wild boars and deer, both of which are on the increase. It was a whole other Germany and I really liked it. Especially the intelligent conversation with two very clever and interested people- such a relief not to have to be cool.

I arived home very chilled, quite drunk and in a great mood to face the week, which has so far been great, accompanied by sun sun sun and my new clothes which always cheers me up. Although some shoes for the wedding would be great...

There are swans in the lake in the centre of the city, called the Little Kiel, and dafodills on every street corner. People are wearing t-shirts and looking relaxed, there are cherry trees in blossom and I can't quite believe it is the same town.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Weekend in Hamburg

The sun is shining, we just got back from a weekend in Hamburg hanging out with my lovely cousins in their glamorous apartments and I am exhausted- too much fun and travelling in a group always makes me exhausted. As usual, being in Hamburg makes me question why I'm in Kiel- and why I've now agreed to stay another year or so.

Hamburg is so chic- I might as well be in Sydney really- and Kiel really is a small town with all that goes with it. I guess that's someting I find kind of interesting, how different it is from my previous experience. Although if I were living in a bigger city maybe people who come to Europe might visit me...

It's overwhelming today- the choices that life offer- and I wonder if I will spend every weekend of my life feeling like this. A little lost, a little aimless and disoriented. It's the Sunday blues every time- that feeling of stretched out tension that goes with work and life. I don't like it much but I seem to constantly put myself in a position where I feel it. Perhaps because the positive side is that feeling of satisfaction that comes with work, of being spent and tired but knowing that you did your best, you put your all into something.

Weekend self-help. That should be a new section in the bookshops.