Blogs | Planes, Trains and Catherine Wheels

December has passed by in a blur of mulled wine, Christmas lights and general festive merriment. Sitting down to write this post I was actually confronted with the thought ‘Where did the time go?’ which makes me feel like a nostalgic fifty-something reminiscing about her bygone youth. As always at the beginning of the month December seems to stretch on infinitely, and opening the first door on my advent calendar (because those things don’t come with an age limit despite what our parents have been trying to tell us) presented me with the feeling that there was still almost a month before I boarded my plane back to Merry Old England for the holidays.

I was wrong.

Between my entire family descending on Berlin to visit, presentation deadlines for classes and a sea of ‘goodbye drinks’ with those departing a bit earlier, there was barely time to breathe. By the time I was checking my bag at Schönefeld Airport on the 22nd, I couldn’t really remember how I’d got there. I’m now into my fifth month in Berlin, 622 miles from Sheffield (as the crow flies) and the Christmas holidays didn’t seem entirely real. Maybe it was the bizarreness of being back in my rural village outside of the city, where about the most exciting thing that happens is a tree falling on the main road causing a bit of a traffic inconvenience, after so long in a place where there’s always something to do, see, or accidentally stumble upon.

Walter taking a keen interest in the sweets from Herr Nilsson Goddess.
Walter taking a keen interest in the sweets from Herr Nilsson Goddess.

That being said, Christmas was great. I returned with gifts of Swedish pick n mix and German ginger bread, hugged my completely indifferent cats, beat the family at Cluedo, and had the usual festive row or two; not to mention experienced the utter joy at being able to open a fridge, eat what I want, and not worry about having to go to the supermarket. Come the 31st I was back at Manchester Airport though, bound for my first new year abroad. We decided to keep it a traditional affair; getting drunk at a friend’s house, dancing around the room to such hits as Jump On It and Get Down Tonight. New Year (or Sylvester, as is the German name) is the rarest of nights where everyone on the street wants to be your best friend and walking down the street is like taking part in a war film, with people setting off fireworks in the middle of the road. We were subject to a great firework display from the balcony, as five people decided to let off an impressive set of rockets of every size and colour on the pavement opposite (I get the impression the Germans don’t have an equivalent to the Firework Code.)

Getting into the spirit of things with some classic sparklers!
Getting into the spirit of things with some classic sparklers!

There’s about five weeks left in my first semester at Freie Universität, then comes our rather oddly timed five week break before the summer term. Student loan permitting I’ll get a chance to see more of Germany and more ambitiously, Europe. I’ve got my eye on Dresden, Munich and Hamburg, as well as Copenhagen, Prague and Budapest. If I can get through the German winter, that is; so far we’ve only seen a light dusting of snow and a bit of rain, but that doesn’t mean I’m not slightly concerned. In a pre-emptive strike I lugged my electric blanket back in my suitcase which I think might be the wisest decision I’ve made in a long time. Perhaps in fact since deciding to come to Berlin in the first place.

Last but not least, one of the obligatory 2014 selfies...
Last but not least, one of the obligatory 2014 selfies…


Without sounding too eager (since Berlin is the height of edgy and cool) if the last four months in Deutschland have been anything to go by, 2014 should beein ziemlich gutes Jahr.

Hannah Woodhead


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