Monday, June 25, 2012

After sitting in cafes almost full time writing all of my semester papers for the past month , getting high from the coffee fumes, I´ve come to a few realizations about Germans and their coffee drinking habits.

1.    They don’t really do coffee shops.  It is slowly dawning on me how strong the coffee culture in Australia is, and how much I love it.  Sometimes I will be sitting at peak times here in a LARGE CITY and there will be nobody else in here.   There’s FREE WIFI PEOPLE!

2.    Germans drink their HOT coffee through straws.  It’s weird.  But apparently it’s better for your teeth?

3.    There will be a room full of comfy couches available for you to sit at and you will sit next to me and cause me to rearrange my study materials. Why?  See the other free couch...and that one?  And the other one? And the one next to that?....

4.    I like long blacks.  This has been forced upon me due to the [mostly] lack of lactose free or soy milk available. 

5.    I will greet you in German.  I will order my coffee in German.  You will answer me in English.  I will answer you in German and you will continue to speak to me in English. WHY?  Why won’t you let me practice my German?

6.    I have an honest face.  Why else would people sitting across the room ask me to watch their belongings whilst they visit the bathroom.  How do they know I´m not going to steal their Mac?  Sometimes I think about it....I don´t think my face should not look so honest.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Giant Blocks of Frozen Spinach and German Pickup Lines.

That awkward moment when...

German (Drunk) Pickup Line # 1: You should dance with me.  You see, I`m tall.  And you´re tall.  Look how tall I am.  Don´t you think you should dance with me?

Snowboarding # 1: The first thing I learnt when my friends tried to teach me the ways of snowboarding was to never unstrap my shoes without holding onto the board.  The first thing I did when attemping to conquer the slopes on my own (with Hannah) was not do this.  However, as the board disappears down the slope, heading towards to the t-bars, I found out I can run quite fast in snowboard boots, Hannah can snowboard quite fast, and random friend can ski very fast to stop the snowboard from causing impending and certain doom to the t-bar patrons. 

Indian Food # 1:  In Zürich last week, Lia and I were quite excited to try out a new South Indian Restaurant she had heard about.  Hello Dosas!  After waiting 1 1/2 hours (apparently it takes a long time to heat up the Dosa hot plate?) let´s just say we won´t be going back there again....

German (Drunk) Pickup Line # 2:  (I´m sitting on tram, minding me own business, when from behind, a hand is right in front of my face, holding an iPhone).  Which baby do you think I am?  (I focus from him back to the iPhone, which is showing a photo of two babies, one boy and one girl).  (I´m confused, and I need a moment to process the German).  I don´t know?
The girl.  I am the baby that looks like a girl.  (He then proceeded (I think! - it´s all German to me!) to blame his mother for dressing him wrongly as a child, and the effects that had on him.  However, he then conceeded that he was a rather good looking child, and would go on to produce good looking children.  A proposition?  I´m not sure...but I was glad when he stopped showing me his other photos of his childhood when he arrived at his stop!).

Snowboarding # 2: A random lady on one? ski ran into me when Hannah and I were recovering from the previous snowboard incident.  I would like to know, where is her other ski?? Both of us lying on the ground quite close to each other, she simply said ´Guten Tag´(Good Day) and went off on her one ski.

Indian Food # 2:  I dragged Rohana along to a South Indian Restaurant here in Münich. Let me just say yum, and it took them only 10 minutes to cook a Dosa.  However, when he asked us if we would like anything else, Rohana said, ´Nein, Ich bin voll.´ You may think this means ´I am full´or ´I have had enough.´ However, actually it means ´I am completely drunk.´ Our waiter walked away with a smirk on his face....

...and things that made me laugh (Just so you don´t think I am an awkard person, experiencing awkard moments all the time...):

Maggie came to visit and we went to Regensburg for the day.  It is a gorgeous town, having survived the war intact, and best of all, the sun came out for the first time in a week!  However, you should know, if you visit the (awe-inspiring) cathedral, suspicious looking men in hats are not allowed.


I decided to have some spinach with dinner tonight, because I found frozen cream spinach in Aldi last week.  Yum!  I was pretty happy about this Switzerland you can buy the same stuff in little cubes, so you can just use as much or as little as you want.  I´m not sure what I was supposed to do with the frozen solid giant-sized block my Aldi spinach was, but it did make me laugh.


...and I´m quite excited because I booked a flight to Russia this week!  Moscow and St. Petersburg.  There is a small chord of fear that is ringing somewhat insistantly inside of me, remembering my last experience of trying to get a visa whilst outside of Aus.  It´s on the to-do list for this week!
Also on the to-do list for this week...Go to Budapest! 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Has anyone seen my German?

The weather has been (mostly) just wonderful lately.  I feel that Spring really is coming and, more than other years, I feel I quite deserve it after having been here pretty much all of winter.

One of my uni lecturers told me once that on her daily walk she tries never to walk the same way twice.  Exploring new pathways, roads etc, and hopefully not getting too lost in the process.

I wondered how this could be possible until I came here...Münich has over 200kms of bike pathways, and there are so many tracks that go in all different directions near my apartment.  I`m not so good about the daily part, but usually every second morning I go for a run and it`s wonderful to live in a flat city with bazillions of pathways.  And there`s even tracks alongside water...(because I really miss the beach!)


I have felt a little discouraged this week with the whole German language thing.  Everybody here speaks it! I went to 4 different language courses offered by the uni last week to find out which ones would be best for me....and have decided to stick to 3 out of the 4.  The fourth was horrible. I walked out of the class wanting to rip my ears off with pliers just so that I never had to hear German grammar explained to me in that way again. 
Not quite sure why I seem to have lost all prior learning when trying to have conversations this week.  I`m hoping the loss is only temporary.  I felt good only once this last week about my language was during a lecture when we had to rate ourselves on our level of English, from 1 being none, to 9 being fluent.  As the only native speaker in the room, I won the highest rating.  Ah well, you can`t win them all, eh?

Here are a couple more photos of my apartment...I´m really thankful for such a great place to live.  I can run to the U-Bahn station in under 2 minutes (every time! when will I learn to leave myself just a little more time!!) and it´s only about 10 minutes on the U-Bahn to the city centre.  

Top: the outside. 
Bottom left: downstairs...a tiny lounge area
Middle: Upstairs...bed and desk etc
Bottom right: Balcony...which gets lovely sunshine in the morning.

Next week Easter holidays begin!  The life of a uni student is hard...3 weeks back at uni and we have a week off.  Saas Fee here we come... 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Becoming Prestigious

Yesterday I went on a journey to become a member of the Bavarian State Library here in Münich (Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek).

You may think I am studious, but rather, I am cheap.  I don't want to buy (expensive) textbooks here and rumour had it that if I became a member of the Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek then I would be entitled to not only use the books there, but also the library of another university in Münich, which has a larger range of Business textbooks in English.

 And so, following this lead, I went with Rohana to become a prestigious member.  Or something like that.  However, it is difficult to gain this prestige as we needed several documents that we hadn't brought.  I guessed we might need a passport, but they also wanted to see our immatrikulation paper, and registration of living in the city of Munich.

Later, armed with these documents, I entered the giant doors once again and happened to be listening to a particularly intense piece of Phantom of the Opera.  I think I audibly giggled as I found myself walking up the stairs in the photo above to the entrance of the library while listening to Phantom.  In my head, I pretty much live in a fantasy world of Opera and old European buildings.  

I soon became a prestigious member, and registered speaking only German. the end, the (somewhat cranky) Librarian said blah blah blah really fast, and pointed to my Visa in my passport. 

Now, to be honest, sometimes, when people speak to me in German and I don't understand, I just nod and smile and hope to goodness that this was the appropriate response.

However, in my head, this fast blah blah blah became, We will only give you this prestigious membership if you give us your Visa.
So I didn't smile and nod, and instead asked her to repeat it slower.  To which she said in perfect English, (somewhat sarcastically?) Your membership is only valid as long as your Visa. 

Sigh.  Speak to me in German!!

And so, the good news at the end of this story is: I am a prestigious member AND I get to keep my Visa.  Take that, Librarian.    

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Searching for Blue Tack and finding Pickles

It took me a really long time to find blue tack in this country.  A quick Google search later informed me that blue tack as I knew it in my previous life was like liquid gold over here and that expats over here trade their children for it.
I searched high and low in many shops and embarrassed myself trying to ask for it using my limited German language skills (if you can imagine, translated in English it went something like this):
"Hello, I am looking for "blue tac" ... I don't know the name in German, but it is sticky (at this point I made a sticky gesture, as I have NO idea what 'sticky' is in German) and I use it to put pictures or photographs on the wall in my house. Maybe it's blue or white?" 
I was rewarded with a blank stare and I left the store in a walk of shame.  Many shops later I found it (by myself - no way I was putting myself through that again) and paid a liquid gold price for it. Of course, since then I've come across it several times, and much cheaper.  Of course.

All that to say, that I have moved to Münich, or München in German.  And I have a little apartment with walls that I can now put blue tack on.  I'm getting some opportunities to practice my German, some more successful than trying to ask for blue tack.  Such as ordering a beer. 

Beers. They are big.  Münich's motto is 'München mag Dich' (Münich likes you), but actually I think their secret motto is 'München mag Bier'

I've been quite slack about taking photos since I've been here, but Hannah came to stay for a day and took one of where I live.  On the bottom right hand corner you can see we were pretending to be German and eating sausages and sauerkraut.  They're funny little apartments, Hann said it looked like I lived in Lego Land, and now that's what I think too.  You can paint the front of your apartment if you wish, so if any arty people wish to come and visit and paint, I am waiting.

 I had to brave Ikea upon arrival, as there wasn't a single item to be found in the apartment. Thanks to the ever lovely Delia, I made it out alive.  It was more than a little overwhelming to have to make so many choices about buying "stuff"!  I hate buying "stuff"!
I can't believe she is still smiling after all those decisions!

My favourite feature (NOT!) - a VERY green cupboard!

Downstairs full of Ikea.

Last week on Thursday I got to see two excellent people.  Julia and Ed.  Julia is much better at conversation, but Ed can sing rather well.  Julia came to visit and we went to see Ed Sheeran.  Julia is much friendlier...although I've never talked to Ed.  Ed, if you're reading this, it's time we had a chat.  The double bonus for the night was Passenger being the support act for Mr Sheeran. 
Ahhhh Ed.

I shall try to introduce my camera to the great outside world here in Münich.  I should also talk about going to Uni and a few other adventures being had here.  Can't do it all in one night though, and I leave you with one of my favourite photos from the last couple of weeks.  I have NO idea as to the purpose of these pickles but we came across them in Salzburg last weekend.  

I don't know the names of the pickles, but the humans are cool people I'm studying with this semester...Elsa, Clement, Vincent, Robin, Laura, Rohana.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Warning: This blog has a slightly cheerful note

Too many good things are happening to keep up with them all on this blog.  I know, I know, a First World problem if there ever was one.

Today it was a beautiful 10°, I didn't need a jacket, and I went swimming! (Indoor, but whatevs).
I also got to talk to my Mum (hey Mum!), my sister for a slight minute (hey Em!) and a beautiful friend (hey Kiri!) who will hopefully be over here before she knows it.  I got my last remaining mark for last semester, and hello HD!  I made delicious berry smoothies, an apple raspberry pie/crumble (yum! - you wish you were there) and a pretty good Butter Chicken.  I was also the favourite Au Pair of the minute by making Crepes for supper (a pretty big award).  There was a spectacular sunset, discussions of summer holiday plans and a wonderful time playing guitar and singing with the girls after supper (after, not for). 

I think the sun being out created a day like the moment when your favourite song comes on the radio. (Today, however,  although I changed the station a bazillion times, people kept speaking in Swiss German...give me a song!!)

As visual proof of a beautiful day, I offer this photo.  A, doing her homework, had just said, "I never want this smoothie to end."

Which is pretty much the same as wishing for a never ending packet of Tim Tams...   

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

7 Ways to Impress a 7-year-old...

How to impress a 7-year-old

-Play Snap.  Have hands which snap at the speed of sound.  "You're so fast.  You're so good." (I may have got so carried away with winning this game that I cut her hand with my fingernail).

-Make Cauliflower Soup.  Yes, I know it sounds dubious (it's not - it's really good and it's made in 10 minutes!).  However: "This soup is my best soup.  Of all soups, this is my bestest best."

-Make Sock Puppets.  "Wow.  You have such good ideas.  You always have such good ideas!"

-Mend the hole in her stockings.  "What?!  I cannot see the hole anymore.  You are so good at this."

-Fix the broken DVD player.  Open a hard-to-open door.  Sharpen all the pencils.  

So, as you can see, it's not so difficult, and it's kind of like having your own little fan club following you around all the time.
In other news, it's still cold. 

My favourite swimming spot - covered in snow!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I'm glad I'm not a duck

It got down to -14° today.  Burr!  This  might be the coldest I have ever experienced Zurich. 
But it was lovely and clear and sunny and I went for a (chilly) walk to the lake.  It's crazy to think we swim down here in summer and have picnics and bbq's.  I've never seen snow down here before and I'm glad I'm not a duck. They looked kind of cold.
I read in a very reliable source that many places in Switzerland are having their coldest February in 30 years.  Which makes me feel cold just thinking about it, so I shall now take myself off to my warm, happy place. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I found this beautiful arrangement of oranges waiting for me on the kitchen floor.  It's a love heart, in case you were wondering, and it's because she "likes me sooooo much". 

I'm back in Zurich.  Sorry for not telling you here in Blog Land.  It has been a crazy and wonderful few weeks, hopefully a couple of blog posts to come on that.  I spent 3 weeks in Kassel, Germany, at the Universitat Kassel, learning all sorts of things about German culture, language, history, and literature.  I even got to practice a few German folk dances and learn how to make a traditional German meal. 

But now I'm back in Zurich, pretending I'm an Au Pair again.  Just for a few weeks, before I start my semester in Munich in March. 

For those who have forgotten that I have a Swiss family, or who did not read my last blog...I live with a family with 3 girls, My Little Friends 1, 2 & 3.  However, due to the confusion which kept appearing in the last blog (, henceforth these beautiful girls will now be known as N (13 yrs), L (10 yrs) and A (7 yrs).

It is A who continues to make beautiful love hearts for me everywhere.  It's so lovely to come back and find the girls are still the same, even though it has been 2 years since I lived with them.  They are still quite sweet, sometimes vague, with excellent English, and are blossoming into kind and warm-hearted girls. 

We were listening to music the other day and A asked if I knew the song "Hang...Hang...something"?  She then hummed the tune, and I realised she was talking about 'Hangover' by Taio Cruz.  I hid my horror that she had been listening to this song and said yes, I did know this song.  She wanted to play it, and then I heard her singing...."I've got a Handy* cover...wo-oh...I've da da da da da da da...I've got a handy cover, wo-oh..."  It made perfect sense to her, who wouldn't want a handy cover?

(*Handy is German for mobile/cell phone)

It's freezing outside.  -7° today, to be exact.  We've had quite a bit of snow, considering we're in the city, and it does make me a little homesick for the sun.  But the white blanket that is currently covering everything does make it quite beautiful and fresh and (quite) crisp.

I took this photo quickly when A and her friend were picking up another friend on their way to school.  Their matching coats and hats make me laugh, becuase A particularly asked for this hat in the shop, and her Mum (M) only found out later that it was because quite a few other girls in her class have the same one! 
Peer pressure, it gets 'em early.

"When love is most extravagant, it is least wasted.  Hope and love don't know the meaning of efficiency"
 ...I read that this week, and a heart of oranges has been a beautiful reminder.