Wool, Cologne and why I’ll never touch anything pickled again as long as I live

Wow, what a week! It’s been really encouraging to hear your comments/compliments about my blog, so a really big thank you to all of you who have read! I’m going to attempt to make a post every Sunday evening, obviously dependent on how much/little has gone on during the week. I’m hoping that I can continue it right the way through the year; if anything else it’ll be a nice way to look back on my time here once I’m back in Blighty. One final point of order before we get down to business: I really can’t believe quite how widespread my audience is – check it out!

ohai Singapore!

ohai Singapore!

So! On Monday I set off from Leizpig enroute to Cologne with Jack and Charlotte, two of the other assistants in Leipzig. The 6 hour journey, on which I bumped into Ollie from uni (whose hilarious blog you should read, by the way!), was so I could go to the training course that the Pädagogischer Austauschdienst (the German equivalent of the British Council) organised for all the language assistants in this corner of Germany. All went swimmingly well for the first few hours. I met some of the other people who will be in my area, as well as Ollie and Charlotte from university. The hotel itself was properly in the middle of nowhere, but the views were fantastic. From our balcony in the mornings we were treated to the morning sunlight on the top of the hills as the mist cleared below.

This really doesn't do it justice!

This really doesn’t do it justice!

Having only paid €35 for the whole trip I was expecting a poor show on the hotel front, but I was pleasantly surprised; it was a really decent 4* place, complete with swimming pool, sauna and mini packets of Haribo on the pillow. How was the food, I hear you cry! Ah. On the first mealtime I mistook the salad bar for the mains part of the buffet, which meant my evening meal consisted of various pickled salad items for starters, followed by a rather nice selection of pickled salads for the main and, to finish, a little pickled salad for dessert. I’m quite open to cultural differences in food, but seriously, what is it with these people and soaking things in vinegar? Feeling rather queasy, I soldiered on regardless (first impressions and all that) and headed for the bar. It didn’t last long! Picture the scene: I’ve only just met all of the people that surround me, and I spring out of my chair, dashing for the door with my hand over my mouth and my eyes looking as if they’re about to burst out of their sockets. Needless to say, a change of shirt was necessary. Another one for the cringe list!

The rest of the course went really well though, once I found the correct part of the buffet the food was actually beautiful! Our main job for the week was to get into teams of 3 and come up with a 45 minute lesson to teach to the others in our class. It was great fun, especially when we had to pretend to be 6 year olds for the people teaching in primary school. The staff were really friendly and did a good job in getting us all fired up to start work next week. It was also quite reassuring to be around so many other people who are in exactly the same situation as I am, and also to meet some people (Emma, Lauren and Ross Anne) from Glasgow which inevitably lead to a drunken conversation about things like Coatbridge, accents and the fact that you ‘cannae shove yer grannie aff a bus’ on the last evening which was a nice little homesickness cure!

So at the end of the course we were dropped off at Cologne station, with just enough time to snap a few pictures of the cathedral before making our way back to Leipzig. As we arrived back “home” the nervous faces of the other assistants who had arrived in Cologne from the UK made me feel very glad that I’d come out a week before and was thus pretty comfortable with my surroundings (hint to any potential language assistants out there: ignore the British Council’s advice about travelling to Cologne first and then to your placement).

Touristy poses in front of the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral)

Touristy poses in front of the Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral)

The rest of the week has been good fun as well. I went out on Friday with some of the assistants to a really cool Caribbean bar which is literally round the corner from my house, followed by a trip on Sunday to an art exhibition in a decommissioned woolen mill; I’m not really one for art but this was actually pretty decent! For those of you from Corby, picture an art exhibition in the old steel works buildings and you get the idea.

So, that was my rather hectic week! My first day at school is tomorrow so I imagine I’ll have lots to talk about next Sunday. Bis dann!

2 thoughts on “Wool, Cologne and why I’ll never touch anything pickled again as long as I live

  1. The boy from a wee toon in England is becomin a man in far away Deutchland…well done Paul keep up the good work and stay away from the vinegar..

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