A really curious thing has happened in Germany. Spring has sprung (or should that be sprang? These days I just make up past tenses and hope for the best), with temperatures regularly reaching 20°C for the past few weeks. Given that less than 2 months ago, it was up to 40° colder, it’s come as a really pleasant change, made all the more pleasant that there isn’t a single pale, pigeon-breasted, topless chav to be seen strutting about.
If anything, the complete opposite is true here (except of course for nudist beaches – when the Germans do something, they do it properly, being naked included). I went for a walk this afternoon, and despite just having a t-shirt on, I passed person after person dressed in jumpers, coats and scarves. I even saw one man wearing gloves!
The (mostly) good weather has coincided nicely with a pretty packed schedule over the last few weeks, which kicked off with 2 sets of visits to Leipzig, one from Tom and Marie from uni, and the other my mum, dad and Sean. At the moment Leipzig is looking pretty spectacular with all this great weather, so it’s been very satisfying to show it off in all its glory! While my family were here we arranged to meet with Carola, my mentor teacher. I can’t believe I’ve not really written about her up until now, but she’s been an absolute bedrock this year. At the beginning, she was pretty much the only friendly face in the entire city and helped keep me sane during those difficult first few weeks. Apart from that, her expert knowledge of Leipzig (including where to eat) has been invaluable. She’s also been incredibly supportive at school, giving me the chance to teach whole lessons and then giving constructive feedback which could come in very useful next year in the event I decide to do teacher training. In short, I owe her a lot this year, so it was great for my parents to meet her. She also volunteered to look after the family while I was running the Leipzig 10k, which I ran with Athletic Jack (couldn’t find a synonym beginning with j, sorry). After being spurred on by some stellar puns from our loyal supporters Sophie, Ruth and Charlotte, I finished in 58:44, not bad for my first attempt! I did, however, give myself away as a newbie when I got to the water station halfway through. I lunged for a cup, necked it, and then decided it would be a good idea to try and put it back on the table whilst still running, wiping out most of the (full) water cups standing there in the process. Apparently all of the people just throwing their empties on the floor wasn’t enough of a hint! Jack and I have tentatively agreed to come back next year for the half marathon, so watch this space!
So my parents headed back to the UK and I, slightly sore from the marathon 2 days prior, headed for Berlin for an Abschlussfahrt (trip for students about to leave school) with my year 10s. Having been there the previous weekend with my parents I wasn’t especially enthusiastic about it, but it did turn out to be a decent week. The one exception was probably a disco that was organised in one of Berlin’s most (in)famous clubs, Matrix. The students and teachers were allowed to drink, and all of the teachers joined in with the dancing. Being used to the slightly more professionally-distant student/teacher relationship we have in the UK, to say I felt awkward being pestered to dance by the kids I have to stand up in front of and teach would be an enormous understatement. Think back to your school days and imagine the poor teachers landed with the unfortunate supervision duty at the school Christmas disco, and you get an idea of how enjoyable the evening was!
On the flipside, I did manage to get a picture with the class in front of the pregnant oyster, or the House of World Cultures to give it its proper name. My German teacher (who having just returned from South Sudan is now off to Papua New Guinea with his wife to carry on their charitable work – his blog is an absolute must read!) started the tradition of having a picture taken outside of it while he was a student, and I’ve tried my best to carry it on. I also got one with my family, so the collection now stands at 8 pictures. Before Christmas I wrote about how Berlin had lost a bit of its charm for me since discovering Leipzig, but I have to admit that it seems to have won me back again. I had a bit of free time when we weren’t doing stuff on our school trip so I had a chance to do a little bit of a pilgrimage and go to the places where I stayed during my trips in the 6th form. Berlin was what made me fall in love with the German people, history and language, and I was in Berlin when I decided to study German at university. It may not be the klein Paris that Leipzig is*, but I guess it’ll always have a special significance for me.
Apologies if that’s a bit soppy; I’ve only got 42 days left in Germany and it’s starting to get to me! Coming up soon is my first ever trip to southern Germany, plus a day trip to Switzerland. Bis dann!
*also stay tuned for a blog post about Leipzig, which should clarify what that means.