I am just over six weeks into my stay now and I have friends!!!! Yes, I have managed to find people who are just as weird as me (no offence guys). I am not going to lie, I have not become the extremely ravishing multicultural goddess with loads of friends from wonderful areas of the world that I hoped I would be. Nope, the majority of them are English or English speaking. Let me just clarify that’s not down to me socially conditioning my friends like some kind of puritanical Regina George making some superior English speaking Erasmus clique, it was more of a survival technique (and a way to avoid speaking German). Once my dad left me to go home I realised that I had no friends in Heidelberg and only one friend in the whole of Germany as well as speaking pretty ropey German after a third term and summer of just English and French. So I scrambled to the nearest computer to try and find someone on the Erasmus Facebook group to meet up with who wasn’t being creepy and asking to have private tango lessons with a young, hubsche Studentin. Thankfully I succeeded in finding a few English girls and we immediately bonded over the lack of Ribena, Squash, Cheddar cheese and general English food in Germany!
I have done a bit of travelling over the past few weeks. I made a little trip back to Leeds to give a tell all speech at a certain BNOC of the year nominee’s birthday. What a claim to fame, I know! Her dad’s reaction to my speech was priceless. Instead of being horrified by his daughter’s antics that I had just revealed he batted away my profuse apologies by saying, ‘Tilly, nothing you could say would shock me. I have done it all’. Classic big Steve! Although the party was in a classy venue with glamorous dresses and tuxes we definitely managed to lower the tone and drunkenly embarrass ourselves as per usual. I definitely lived up the stereotype of a drunken English girl that my teetotal German housemate warned me about after I had told her that I knew the word for ‘binge drinking’ in German (it’s Komasaufen by the way).
I have also visited some more cultural areas than Hyde Park on my travels. The English girls and I had a little trip to the Black Forest and Freiburg. However, our tour guide made the rooky error of taking us to the famous Freiburg cathedral on a day when it was shut. Fantastic. He tried to cover this up by explaining every single one of the stupid decrepit statues on the entrance to the cathedral, claiming that they were extremely meaningful and ominous, when in actual fact they resembled gothic Playmobile figurines. Such a great alternative to going up the one of the highest church towers in Germany! I also experienced possibly one of the most offensive German meals I have ever tasted. I was attempting to be healthy on this trip and so I wanted a wurst without potatoes and bread but with salad. So you’d assume Wurstsalat (literally translating to sausage salad) would be a legitimate choice. Well, I could not have been more wrong if I tried! Imagine worms made from minced frankfurters with two pieces of lettuce and some funky grated cheese on a plate. Yep, that was what I had ordered. Horrid. Thankfully I ended up having the eighties favourite Black forest gateaux as a second lunch! This was no ordinary BFG, oh no. It was nothing like the horrific soggy creamy sponge with a cherry on top that Kerry Katona is trying to flog you alongside some grim frozen volavents on the Iceland adverts. This was a fantastical, glorious, sensational, creamy, unctuous, chocolate boozey, cake, which did actually get me a little tipsy from the shear amount of Kirsch that it contained.
Although my foreign friends don’t really stretch my language skills much further than my housemates, I have got involved in a Tandem programme. No guys, for the last time it is not me cycling around on a two seated bike with a foreigner! I am pretty sure that would breach some kind uni health and safety legislation. It’s actually a chance for me to practice my French and German with native speakers by meeting up for Kaffee und Kuchen and having a little chat. I have managed to acquire two male Tandem partners. I specify male because I recently found out that they normally pair up boys with boys and girls with girls to somehow avoid sexual relations between Tandem partners. So this means that the uni either thinks I am a boy because of my stupid English name or they think I definitely lack that certain je ne sais quoi which normally attracts hot European blokes and therefore I am no threat to their no sex policy. Either way it’s a really charming compliment.
I was almost forced into a third Tandem as I was coming back from a little shopping spree with my Erasmus grant in Frankfurt on Friday. A fellow approached me rather innocently asking if the coach to Heidelberg was delayed and then continued to try and make conversation with me. Being the untrusting independent hard-to-get British lass that I am I attempted to curtail the conversation pretty quickly. But no no, this Cameroonian man with a thick lisp called Willi (Yes, Willi and Tilly. It would have been hilarious) asked me to teach him English and then proceeded to play me creepy from old French music like Serge Gainsbourg (look him up he is a creep) and ask me to if I had ever been in love whilst lunging in for a kiss. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am partial to a lunge or two when it is instigated by the right guy but Willi had got it so wrong. This whole episode was only made worse by the fact that he later told me that he lives in my halls… At least my real tandems are nice. One of them learnt English in Scotland and speaks in a Scotch-German accent. It’s a wee bit funny (nailed it!). The other one has offered to take me to the Christmas markets in Strasbourg, la Capitale de Noël!
All in all life, in Heidelberg is so great! Aldi and Lidl are actually nice here rather than filled with creepy funny smelling old men and degenerates like they normally are at home. We saw Klingande at a house night here (so edgy, I know) for ten euros and they are now number one in the charts in France and Germany. Bargain! It was so nice to be able to go to a house night without being surrounded by intoxicated zombies chewing their mouths to smithereens and then indulgently complaining the next day that their heads feel like they have been stood on by a troll. Handball is pretty cool here as well, it’s not the freakish ugly sister sport of basketball and football that you think its gonna be!
Next on the cards is Amsterdam and a mid term in German… Oh no, it’s all downhill from here!