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.