July 30th, 2007

Elle Nilfy

Bundesbürokratieabteilung für nervösen Sprachassistenten

I woke up this morning to a deluge of paper informing me about my year abroad. My mind is swimming, and I've not even opened the large booklet about how to be a Language Assistant. I've got to do so much, and that's just with administration. I'll need to get a document from the school and my passport to get a bank account, and I'll need both along with a housing agreement to be able to apply for a document that allows me to move around in Germany. This is all quite aside from actually getting somewhere to stay, setting up phone lines and the internet, and so on. Expect this journal to fall silent in September, although perhaps with occassional bursts of manic laughter and screams.

On the plus side, I know of two language assistants within 20 minutes' drive of me, one of whom comes from Mansfield, near Nottingham, and the other of whom studies at Nottingham. Holly will be in Thüringen, which is a number of hours away, but I will have three fellow Hollowegian language assistants not too far from me in Hamburg. Nevertheless, I'll be pretty isolated in Eutin. I won't exactly have many people my age to make friends with, and the nearest university is 45 minutes away by train in Kiel. I need to speak a lot of German to make this worthwhile, so I'll need to find some circle to become part of, else I'll only end up speaking German at school, or when buying things.

Or whilst travelling. I'm glad to see travelling is advocated, and the Bahncard 50 with half-price on all train fares for a year will be most welcome. On the other hand, I'm right up in the finger of Germany, so getting to most parts of Germany will be a long-haul affair, even though German destinations make the most sense (Köln, Bremen, Hannover, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Nürnberg, München, Berlin). Ironically, being where I am makes international travel quite easy, albeit it not by rail (with the exception of catching one of the trains from Hamburg to Copenhagen or Malmö). There are ferries from the three nearby ports of Kiel, Puttgarden and Travemünde to Oslo, Lolland (in Denmark), Göteberg, Stockholm, Lithuania and Helsinki. Lübeck also has cheap flights to Danzig, Shannon, Pisa and the Costa del Sol. It's all a matter of how my schedule works out, and I won't know that for a while.

Lots to worry about, then, but I still have a while to get things sorted. I'm off on the 10th September to Altenberg for a training course, but beforehand, I need to sort out accommodation, details about the school and a few other things, including insurance and the matter of getting my luggage to Eutin when Ryanair don't allow for a great deal of luggage, and Dad will be unable to take it in the car via the ferry owing to him already being at school.

It will all be worth it in the end. Watch this space...in about a year.