To update everyone, I’d like to briefly return to the topic in my blog post two weeks ago (loneliness, isolation, and unfamiliarity). Generally, I have been doing very well, as I have been trying really hard to fill up my time in the afternoons, evenings, and weekends.
I have enjoyed visiting a couple of friends, both of whom I met at my home University when they did Erasmus semesters there. I met one friend in Bochum/Essen, and had a lovely day exploring my friend’s University, local area, and went to a typical Kirmes church fair. Last weekend was a long weekend for me, so after going to a colleague’s birthday meal on Friday evening, on Saturday I went to see another friend in Cologne.
We went to Cologne’s Theaternacht (theatre night, click the link to see photos) together – fifty of the city’s theatres opened their stages to all manner of theatrical and musical performances. The plays we saw were Faust and Hansel & Gretel – even if I couldn’t understand everything, the acting and quality of direction were impressive. It was fun to travel about the city at night (in the safe company of my friend who knew the underground-lines off by heart). Thanks to both of the girls, if they happen to read this, because it was great spending time with both of them! I got home feeling exhausted from all the fast German thinking and new people, and needed a rest before my 8am Class Six on Tuesday.
Maybe some of you will remember how much I enjoyed getting involved in the Lied und Gesang (singing) workshop at Heidelberg in August? Two weeks ago I joined a local choir, and the best thing is being part of a warm, friendly community. I’m still getting used to all the new songs (all 260 of them, in one heavy folder), and find it a challenge to keep up – it’s become an ‘in-joke’ that the choir leader inaudibly whispers the number/name of the next song, so nobody knows which song is up next, and is consequently rushing around to find the right sheets.
Another thing I’ve thought about doing for a long time is learning Dutch. Being so close to the Netherlands border, I thought now would be a good time to start the language, which has many similarities with German and English. I found out about a Dutch evening class at a local college, and ended up on the ‘beginners with limited knowledge‘ course because the ‘complete beginners‘ course was all booked up! It was an experience to be introducing myself in Dutch in the first session, using words I’d never spoken nor heard before – I was quite nervous, and it took time before I had the confidence to brave putting up my hand to answer a question.
Three weeks since the first class, I am managing to catch up with the others in my class, as I’ve been filling my spare time teaching myself the grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary… but it isn’t easy: my brain is still on overdrive as I follow explanations of how to form irregular Dutch past participles (“Werkwoord een voltooid” or “Partizip Perfekt“!) in German.
It’s now the Herbstferien (autumn holidays), so I will be going back home to England for a week and a half. I can’t wait to see my family again! Next week is also Dyspraxia Awareness Week, so I would like to post again then if I can.
I’d like to leave you with a final photo – a portrait of me, drawn by a creative pupil in Tuesday’s Class Six English lesson – which I think highlights the sweet side of being a Language Assistant!
Schöne Ferien und bis bald!