That’s right -I haven’t disappeared off the face of the World Wide Web, however I have been spending the past three weeks discovering a new city, meeting people from all corners of the Earth and navigating my way around a different language (although between you and me I’ve spoken English for the most part, but something has to give). I’ve just moved to Leipzig, which is a lively city south of Berlin, as part the second part of my year abroad, and it’s been an intense three weeks. Similar to my semester in Lille, there’s been plenty of ups and downs; moments where this feels like the hardest thing I’ve ever done and ever will do, yet times where I’m so grateful for this opportunity. A lot has happened, so these are some of my highlights from my time so far:
- Berlin. I started my journey by staying in the capital for a weekend with my aunt, experiencing a very modern city which is still haunted by the ghosts of its past (not intended negatively, but when you visit this place its history is very much present in every corner). The East Side Gallery was a personal highlight, it was surreal how we easily weaved from East to West, when once this would have been impossible.
- Snow and sadness. It snowed heavily during the first week and I actually rather enjoyed it. It was nice to experience this new environment in a state which is just temporary, and making those memories of that week time specific. On the first Friday we went on a night out and walked through the thick snow to the nightclub, and true to German efficiency the tram started running at 4am to take us home. But once the snow had passed, I realised I had hardly taken any photographs, and I was filled with the feeling of losing something I wouldn’t get back again.
- Playing Monopoly with Germans – they take the rules very seriously.
- My shared flat. The kitchen resembles something like Day of the Triffids, but it’s warm and friendly and I like it.
- Very hot chilli sauce. Courtesy of the student from Mexico, I tried a tiny bit and it was incredibly spicy. It also makes you realise the difference between the foreign food that’s presented to you in the supermarket and the genuine article.
- My 20 song playlist consisting of Vendredi Sur Mer, Maggie Rogers and Air, amongst others. I listen to it while taking the tram around the city, watching buildings whizz pass as they become more familiar with every journey.
- The Mensa. This is the cafeteria at the university; its not just a place to eat, its an institution.