September 22nd, 2007


Squinting Sun

So I'm back here at this Hotspot in the town square. On the plus side, I found a pricing option that costs me 20 Euros a month rather than 8 an hour, so all I have to worry about aside from my coffee going cold is my laptop battery power. As I've been online for a while already, I don't have too much time left, and as such, I@m not going to put up a full update (again...sorry!). I'll type it when I get back to the Rosenhof, no doubt, and upload it when I come here tommorrow.

*blows baby spider off finger, blows housefly off laptop*

Obviously, using the Internet here isn't optimal. Before, it was the cold. Today, it's the sun, that either makes looking at my screen very difficult, or blinds me. I found a compromise in the shadow of a tree, but I@m still squinting a little with my left eye, and my cheek hurts from doing it since 3. The sun is about to go behind one of the buildings lining the square, but that will be at about the same time my laptop goes into power-saving mode.

So, a brief digest:

* I now have a visa (not the bank variety).
* I now have a bank account with Sparkasse Holstein (of the bank variety)
* I went to visit the lovely Ryan and Deirdre in Kiel.
* I now have a German phone, but it's not fully operational yet.
* I went to the Voss-Lauf, a weird sorts of sports-day tradition thing, with races around both parts of the lake (2.5km, and 10km respectively).
* One or two of my photos from the Voss-Lauf will appear in the Luebecker Nachrichtung newspaper tommorrow.
* I managed to make a meal of fried noodles without causing serious damage or injury.
* I purchased a month's Internet at the Hotspot in the centre of Eutin.

Right, better head off now. Talk to you in a few hours...not that you'll hear me until tomorrow, of course...

Of Beer and Brass Bands?

Thursday actually went all right, hence the curry update rather than something with a bit more substance. I got to meet a 9th class, but we didn't do a huge amount, because Fee, as nice as she is, teaches mainly in German, and due to circumstances had the lesson largely as an improvisation one, stretching out an exercise with translation for as long as possible. The last few minutes were taken up with a Q&A session, in which I got asked questions about myself and so on. In English. Only a few pupils actually asked me anything though, with the ubiquitous "How old are you?". That went all right...

...but the next lesson was much easier for me. I was with Thomas, who is so much the opposite of Fee, that he asked me a few questions about myself before the lesson, in English. His entire lesson was also in English, giving me a chance to help out now and again. Not that that was easy. As a native speaker of English, and as someone who routinely plays with the language for their own ends, I had no idea whether to use "they had been started" or "they were started". There are grammatical rules, I suppose, which Thomas knew, but in my own experience, Brits rarely follow them. I think some of the students were glad to have me tell them their sentence was perfectly okay when Thomas said it wasn't. Language is flexible, bless it. I had another Q&A session too, although this time with far more questions, including a "Do you get paid?" which took me back a little, and a "What do you think of the Germans?" question which did not. I pointed out how, going by grandparents, I'm half-German myself, and then mentioned the more conventional English stereotype of the Germans, which Thomas found fascinating, as it was apparently the same as that which he had had at Cardiff Universiy many years ago: beer, Lederhosen, and oom-pa-pa music. That'll be us looking at Oktoberfest and thinking the Germans are always like that...

The class found the idea that some Brits (especially tabloid-readers) refer to Germans as 'Krauts' confusing, and once again, as with practically every German I've ever met, they had no idea where Stendal, the town were my Great Aunt and late Great Uncle live(d), is, despite it being the only place of any size in the whole of Northern Sachsen-Anhalt. Oh, and I was pleased to meet a Schandmaul fan in the class. I still think I'm their only English fan >_> Thomas seems to want me to actually take some of his lessons in October because he'll be away. I'm having difficulty explaining that teaching isn't my job.

The afternoon was long. I tried chasing down some more classes to visit, but failed, and eventually ended up sitting in on a 90-minute long Abitur history class, the same in which I had sat on Wednesday. They had a debate, and they engaged in much discussion about the execution of King Louis, and whether it was right or not. Much of the talk went over my head, especially since I developed a headache about 50 minutes in, and it was made harder by the fact that I felt very strange. I sat there, watching the lesson, but not taking part, reading the handouts, but not doing anything with me. Ah, but I still maintain it's useful.

When I (finally, is how it felt) finished, I moreorless ran into town to get my long-awaited bank account. That was thankfully a very easy process. I got a free cup of coffee (which I sorely needed), and handed over a few documents, whilst chatting with a friendly man in German. 20 minutes after I asked about Kontos at the counter, I was walking out of the bank with an account with Sparkasse Holstein, and a smile on my face, because I'd been told my spoken German was good. It isn't, of course, but I let myself believe in the deception for a while. Until my card arrives in the post, though, I still need to use my Visa to get cash at weekends.

I had a pizza from a small pizzeria. I won't go there again, though, even if the owner was pretty friendly. I saw flies crawling across the surface where the pizzas are laid, as well as over the cutlery and so on, and the whole time, the owner's two children were running in and out of the shop. It felt more like someone's kitchen than a restaurant.