From a foodie Christmas to a psychotic January… Not sure how I survived this winter.
Welcome to 2014 in Germany. I am currently sat in a poser hipster café attempting to write this blog. I probably seem like I am trying to emulate some kind of self-indulgent edgy blogger combined with a pouty Carrie Bradshaw when in actual fact I look like I have been dragged through the bargain bin at Oxfam and have a hangover the size of Russia. The past few months (during which I have not posted at all… naughty) have been on the whole a melange of depression, revision and dental dramas. Luckily I did get a little bit of sun courtesy of a brief trip to Egypt, where I got the ultimate karmic retribution for buying my racoon fur hat when meeting my arch nemesis, a real life pet raccoon.
Over the holidays I was in England for all of nine days and in those nine days I managed to end up in hospital and put on about a stone of weight thanks to the glorious Christmas grub (well played if I do say so myself). In the 48 hours before Christmas day I had to undergo a root canal and have a £130 filling put in my tooth which I didn’t actually need. The filling was the worst dental experience of my life not to mention one of the worst ways to spend that large amount of money. I have had a few holes in my teeth in the past due to my obsession with diet coke and pick and mix, but never before had I been told by my dentist, whilst multiple drills were inserted into my mouth, that he was probably going to mess it up because it was sods law that this would happen at Christmas! Of course he did mess it up and therefore I was in hospital on Christmas Eve in severe pain to the point that I was prescribed every painkiller under the sun. Tramadol, codeine… You name it. I had it! So contrary to the majority of the British population I was sober over the whole Christmas period.
However these dental issues did not stop me eating like a pig. I decided that this was the year to broaden my culinary horizons. Move your white powdered nose over Nigella because I was the new chef in town and I was going to cook my first Christmas dinner! Obviously being a Wimbledon High School girl I don’t do eating by halves. I couldn’t just have my classic middle class Beef Wellington. No, I had to have stuffing with it too. But this was no ordinary stuffing. This was the Death Star of stuffing known as The Loaf. This Loaf was a meal in itself. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had a mind of its own it was that gargantuan. There was so much of it left over that my Dad decided to create many a spin off meal incorporating the loaf. There was loaf on toast, cheese on loaf and loaf salad for the healthy eaters among us. All in all it was stodgy, meaty and delicious!
I can imagine that everyone has experienced the chubby post new year January blues, but I have to say that it has been pretty intense in Heide these past few weeks. Exam season has infiltrated every fibre of our beings. As I write this I can here the overtired and undernourished Leeds third years screaming in protest from their respective grotty alcoves in Eddy B; and I can completely agree that it is my Erasmus year and I don’t have a dissertation to worry about or exams which actually count towards my degree. But the German exam season is manic. It sweeps you up into a frenzy even if you only have to pass your modules. Not only do we have multiple exams and essays but lectures also still continue throughout the exam period to the point where you would be learning new topics up to the day before an exam. Imagine if you will the stereotypical German efficiency being drugged up on Ritalin and that is Heidelberg: everyone is focused as hell and revision breaks essentially don’t happen.
But the most remarkable thing about this whole revision lark has to be the laws of the Bib (that’s native slang for the library). The finicky rules of no hot drinks and no eating in the silent area of Leeds are practically a godsend in comparison to North Korea-esque security in place at Heidelberg. To start, you are not allowed to bring any opaque bags of any kind into the library, for fear that people will use them to smuggle books out of the library. You often here the urban legends of some German students being so competitive that they used to rip out chapters so that other students would not be able to read them for the exam! To counteract the issue of having to juggling all your notes, your laptop and your various energy drinks (or your anxiety pills which your doctor has prescribed you for extreme culture shock), you are permitted to use a university branded extra sturdy plastic bag. This bag is what tie-dye T-shirt is to the canal mills hipsters of Leeds. It is almost a fashion statement to have one. Sadly I was never cool enough to get to sport such an on trend tote…
If this was not strict enough you are only allowed to have a break of maximum an hour when you are working in the library! On you departure you must leave a note explaining your absence and stating the time of your leaving and return. If you come back late you run the risk of your stuff being removed by a power hungry librarian and another overly tired and virtually suicidal student taking your workspace. For a reasonably chilled out language student who normally spends more time running round the library distracting people than actually working like myself this was quite a shock. There was neither giggling at memes on Facebook, nor tweeting the nearest hottie in your area. It was simply hard-core, puritanical revision. At times it got so intense I genuinely thought I’d been lobotomised! None of the three languages I know would come out of my mouth coherently… Nor could I dress properly (see green fashion faux-pas).
Nevertheless I survived all my frightening exams and passed all the necessary credits for me to progress to next semester! Since exams I have indulged a few nights out and also had my first experience of a German doctors. It was pretty expensive and due to my linguistic skills on hangover pretty embarrassing. Also as an aside please note girls German boys are not always nerdy and introvert with dodgy glasses. German players do exist!
Next up a two months holiday with trips to Leeds, London, Les Trois Vallées and various corners of Europe! This intercultural existence isn’t so bad (I promise)!!