The Free State of Thuringia (Thüringen) is a former GDR state in central Germany, known as the "green heart" of Germany since it's covered with dense forest, is definitely not the most popular part of this country. I'd guess that most international visitors to Thuringia visit the former site of the Buchenwald concentration camp or are literature mavens who want to see Goethe and Schiller's Weimar. Sadly, this state is also infamous as a center of Neo-Nazi activity.
It's been a while since my last blog post as not much transpired before the Easter holidays. One week there was an intense storm and the school was struck by lightning which caused some damage to the water pipes, so school was closed down for two days. During the last week of school my mum … Continue reading Journey to the South (feat. Mummabear)
Last week was my official "winter" holidays, even though they took place in spring. A single week to punctuate the transition into warmer weather and longer days. And boy, have the days gotten longer.
It's been a benign three weeks since my last post, and at some point in the last three weeks I realised that I finally felt "settled" in my school as a staff member. The other staff members seem to be "used" to me now, and some have even expressed appreciation for what I do, which means a lot because the culture here is seldom complimentary for the sake of it.
It’s that time again for a short blog entry. January has flown by and things at school are slightly confusing as three teachers in the English faculty are either sick or on parental leave. Therefore, my timetable has changed slightly and I have a few new classes. It has been snowing in snatches and the daylight hours are gradually getting longer (at the peak of winter the sun sets at about 4pm but now it sets at around 5).
Last Friday I took a train to the federal capital, Berlin, which is exactly three hours from Erlangen. I first visited Berlin about four years ago and back then I had mixed feelings about it. So this was a chance to reassess the city from a slightly different mindset. During my stay in Berlin, I also took the chance to visit the German states of Sachsen-Anhalt and Brandenburg.
New Year’s Eve in Germany is called Silvester which is named, for some positively boring religious reason, after Pope Sylvester I and, unfortunately, not after the lisping cat from the Looney Tunes. We had a Sause, a crude colloquial nominalisation denoting a “booze-up”, a word which I had learnt some years prior from a few German undesirables in Lithuania of all places.
Since it was my first Xmas outside of Australia and I have no family here to celebrate with, my friend, Mirj, who lives in Nuremberg, invited me to her family’s Xmas celebrations, which was super nice of her. So I was not only having my first German Xmas but my first Franconian one, and it should be very obvious already that Franconia is my favourite region in Germany.
This was the penultimate week of school before the Xmas holidays and it’s clear that the festive season is here. Even though I’ve seen more Xmas markets in the last couple of weeks to last a lifetime and it’s begun snowing, it definitely does not feel like Xmas to me since in Australia unbearably hot weather and sweatiness tend to signify that the festive season is coming.
My first impression of Hamburg wasn't exactly positive. It is a really big city and the sheer number of people, homeless people in particular, was unbelievable. Hamburg is also definitely one of the dirtiest German cities I’ve encountered thus far, the streets were littered with broken glass and of course it was windy and raining the whole time I was there.