Although it’s been the best part of two months since I’ve written a post, nothing too major seems to have happened. The snow disappeared for three glorious days at the beginning of March which inspired me to bring my road bike over to Germany in order to make the most of such wonderful weather. I get home from my trip to Bristol to see some friends and as soon as I step out of the plane I’m met with several inches of snow. Brilliant. As of yet, the bike is waiting in the cellar of my house with tyres as deflated as I felt dragging the blasted thing through the snow from the village station to my house. The journey should have taken 20 minutes but took over an hour. It was a Sunday night and I had school at 8 the next day. In case you didn’t realise, those tyres are flat.
Grossy-K in the Snow from the Station
In much more cheery news, I spent a weekend in Bristol visiting Dickson and Ballan. I was met at the coach station by a very excited welcome group and we had a colourful and draining weekend of partying. The main event was a “club night” which was a thing of beauty and fear. The decor was designed to emulate being on LSD and I pitied the poor people who were downstairs and tripping balls. There were massive monkey faces that scared me when I was sober so I can only imagine how terrifying that must have been with some form of hallucinogenic in the system and the Jungle music tearing the lungs from your chest with the bass. We also went for a quiet drink with Jez on the Saturday night in a quiet little pub down the road from Dickson’s flat. We were all shattered, but it was so good to see Jez, who I’d not seen since September and he was pretty worse for wear at the end of that night! We also spent a fair bit of time with Dickson’s younger brother Theo, which was cool. He’s definitely grown up since I saw him last! I’d never really spoken to him before that weekend, so it was cool to finally get to know him after years of being at his house!
Bristol is a lovely city and I definitely saw in in a different light after that weekend. I’d sort of poo-pooed it when I was deciding on my UCAS choices as it was my Insurance Choice, but I don’t think I made a bad choice in the end. Besides, if I had gone to Bristol, I doubt I’d be in Großkorbetha! I think the way that they split up the Year Abroad is different to that in Leeds – something like 50:50 for time spent abroad rather than a Term Abroad as well as a Year Abroad.
It was Mothers’ Day on the weekend that I was in the UK and that was just lovely as my family came to Bristol and we went out for lunch in a draughty Wetherspoons and wandered around the city for a short while. I wasn’t too hungover, but I was a little bit tired from Friday night – it took a lot out of me. My parents drove me to the airport and brought my road bike with them. It wasn’t difficult to sort out bringing it with me on the plane, but pushing the flight bag with its dreadful set of wheels, carrying my rucksack with clothes from the weekend AND pushing my “town” bike home from the station was a definite Alptraum.
Working at school has been fine recently. Our Pen-Pal project is coming along nicely and we’re just awaiting the responses from our responses. My students keep asking me when we’re going to get the letters back, so I’m assuming that’s a good sign! It’s Comenius week once again and I’m very much looking forward to being invited to spend an evening eating pizza with some Czechs and maybe even singing some songs with them.
One of the things I really rather enjoy about the school I work at is how they deal with adverse weather. By “adverse weather”, I’m referring to the snow that has plagued Grosskorbetha for what seems like months. I exaggerate, of course, for the residents of the village can be seen without fail every morning outside their houses, shovels and scrapers in their hands, moving the snow not only from their driveways, but also from the pavements and the roads. My school has taken the same approach. Instead of recruiting local residents to clear the snow from the playground, they have found an ingenious way of getting the “grounds” (in the loosest sense of the word) cleared: they leave shovels and scrapers in a neat pile in front of the school every day and wait. Sooner rather than later, one child, who may be bored whilst waiting to head to the sports hall or has tired of the football that is played during any break possible, will pick up one of the shovels and will proceed to use it to clear the snow – much to everyone’s benefit. The student’s friends will see just how much fun he or she is having and will grab another shovel in order to help him. Others, intrigued by the pleasure their fellow students are having with what seems like such a menial and mundane take, will take up the remaining shovels and within minutes the playground will be clear. Clearly the headmistress became headmistress for a reason. I’d also hazard a guess that the caretakers have also noticed how willingly students will do their jobs for them. Sly things.
I was feeling very jealous a few weeks ago because it seemed to me that everywhere apart from Sachsen-Anhalt (the county where I live and work) had two weeks of Winterferien and we only had the one. While I was working, my friends were off gallivanting who-knows-where, but I promise you I’m not bitter.
I’ve been jogging for the past few days and after a long time off, I’m incredibly achey. I think that I’ve been jogging a grand total of 5 times this year and 2 of those have been this week! I tried to do a Rocky Balboa-esque jog up a steep slope the other day and ended up slipping uphill with every step that I took. I was glad I didn’t fall over too often…
There is definitely a beauty to Großkorbetha in the snow. It brings out the birds of prey and makes the roofs blend in with the sky. The only problem with that is that IT’S MARCH. I feel as if Germany has just taken a 4-month step back every time that it starts to snow again. I’m taken to mid-December and I’m going to be going home for Christmas any day soon. It also didn’t help that the school radio (a CD on loop) played Wham’s Last Christmas this afternoon. Wahnsinn.
In January (so chronological), I went to Stralsund, which is in the very North of Germany to the East of the large expanse of land that connects Germany to Denmark. It’s a coastal town and very dead in any time other than Summer. I went with Laura and we only decided on Stralsund because we’d been to the West of Germany, i.e. Cologne, earlier that month and the train journey was horrific. We’d also considered going South to Munich, but accomodation was far too expensive. The only sensible option left was to go North. I’d received a voucher from Deutsch Bahn in the post giving me one free passenger journey for any journey within Germany (as long as I paid, of course!) until the end of February. We looked at the large towns and cities in the North of Germany and found Stralsund more-or-less due North of Berlin, which made it much easier to get there.
I imagine that Stralsund is the sort of place to which Germans like to go on holiday to relive their times in the GDR, for it is certainly not a internationally well-known place of interest. This does not mean, however, that it is one of those “well-kept secrets” of Germany. It has its charms, its museums and cobbled streets in the Old Town as well as its flaws. In fact, I’m very much certain that had we been there in the height of summer, it would have been lovely. Stralsund in the Winter, however, is dead. It seems like a place that could well have either a high suicide rate or a massive problem with addictions to hard drugs. The architecture is very much a blend of classic Scandinavian design and almost-Gothic German. The main church, or maybe even cathedral, is very imposing and the layout of the Altstadt is very simple, but also full of twisty-turny streets and passageways. Our hotel was a steal that we’d found on laterooms or some equivalent and it was right in the centre of the Altstadt. We didn’t venture to the Neustadt as it seemed as if there was nothing there. We went to the aquarium and ocean museum which was very enjoyable and interesting as it contained a history of the town, the whole area as well as only showing species that would be found in the Baltic and North Seas.
I feel like going back to Düsseldorf at some point soon. I used to live there and it would be a great time spent nostalgia-ing so hard. Who knows when I’ll go, but I will.
Ich hab euch Lieb