Was it really April since I last posted? Guess I must have been having so much fun in Germany that I forgot to blog! Either that or I'm just a lazy so and so. I'm now back in Birmingham, and I can't possibly write everything that happened in Germany since April in one post, so I'll just give a short summary. In April about 15 of the Erasmus students went to Austria. The days leading up to this trip left me in a bit of a quandary (quandary? quandry? I never know how to spell that word.) because we would be spending 6 hours on trains and everyone else would be drinking copious amounts. As I knew that I would be driven completely insane very quickly if I stayed sober while everyone else was getting extremely besoffen (drunk in German), I thought I would at least need some alcohol for the journey so that I could be tipsy enough to not be driven mad, but sober enough so that I don't get completely ruined myself. Unfortunately I only really like alcopops i.e. WKD and VK, and I don't like beer. Pretty tragic that, since I was in Germany! So a couple of days before the trip I went to the local Kaufland (basically German equivalent of Carrefour - sells just about anything) which has a basement full of booze, to try and find some kind of drink that I would like. I ended up buying a bottle of Sex on the Beach and a weird grapefruit flavoured alcopop. As Balazs would say, "Das ist ein grosser Fortschritt!" - meaning that's a big step forward. Anyway, the next day we headed for Austria. 6 hours, 3 trains, a random Bavarian woman who couldn't understand a word we were saying, and vise versa, an amazing afternoon in Salzburg and a village in the middle of nowhere. As my mum sometimes reads this blog, I won't mention the name of the village here. The Erlangeners will know what I'm talking about though!
On to the lectures. Term started in May, and I chose to study two linguistics modules, a top level oral class (what was I thinking??) a module on 19th century American literature, and something called Interkulturelle Kommunikation. All very interesting. Actually that's a big fat lie, I found the linguistics stuff very boring, even though I'm usually very interested in linguistics. Meh, you can't have everything.
The next few months were peppered with another outing - this time a cheeky weekend in Munich - various nights out in bars and pizza places, and of course the ultimate event of the summer - the Bergkirchweih, or just the Berg as everyone calls it. This is a MASSIVE beer festival that runs for two weeks every year in May or June, up in the higher part of the city, hence the name Berg (German for mountain). This year it was in June. I was quite apprehensive about going to this, because as I said, I don't like beer. I thought I would be surrounded by drunkards and feel rather awkward. As it happened, I absolutely loved it! The first day of it was completely insane: Kim's boyfriend Ben was visiting, as was my friend Jenny's boyfriend Tom, so the two couples plus me and Becca went to the Berg. It was so busy! It wasn't all about the beer though, there were all sorts of fairground type games and rides, and loads of food stands selling everything from decorated gingerbread, candyfloss, pretzels, French crepes and a weird Hungarian bread thing called Langos, which Becca and Kim got totally hooked on! I still don't really understand what it is. Ben got ridiculously drunk, but Tom left early, having drunk too much. Ben was weirdly proud that he had out-drunk an American! I went to the Berg about 4 times and loved it every time.
After the Berg, things went by pretty slowly; I didn't do much of consequence apart from going to the Schlossgarten occasionally, but then the dreaded R word came around. Yes that's right: revision. Oh my DAYS. I had 4 exams and I was continually lamenting having to revise in July and August - the exams in Erlangen took place in the last week of July and the first week of August. Revising in May and June is bad enough, yeesh! I was determined not to fail or miss any exams after the debacle of the exams in Lyon. I ended up passing 3 out of 4, but I still don't know my mark for the 4th one because the stupid uni didn't release the Schein (results certificate) until the 16th of September, and me being my usual scatterbrained self, I forgot to ask for it after I left.
There was one thing which alleviated the stress of exams: at the end of July my family came to visit me. I had a lovely time with them; they stayed in a hotel round the corner from my flat and I showed them around Erlangen on the Sunday. Dad said it wasn't what he was expecting. I'm not quite sure what he was expecting, but my mum and brother seemed to like it. On the Monday we went to Bamberg. It's a gorgeous old town about an hour from Erlangen. As I had already been there twice before, I was able to tell my family about the things I had seen, although rather embarrassingly I couldn't remember much of the historical stuff that I'd been told when I went there with the orientation course. Mum and Dad really enjoyed the day in Bamberg, but my brother seemed to be bored by it. I should have seen that coming: he hates history and walking around old towns, whereas Mum, Dad and I love it. Because my brother didn't seem to like Bamberg, I felt a bit stupid for having suggested going there. I still had a great day though, and I finally managed to buy a Dirndl!!! You have no idea how exciting this is! A Dirndl is a traditional German dress, often in two colours, which is worn with a blouse and an apron. I'd been wanting one for ages, in fact I had wanted to buy one for the Berg, but they were so expensive in Erlangen that I couldn't get one. When I found one in Bamberg for €60, I could have squealed with joy! So now I have a gorgeous blue and black Dirndl. Unfortunately it's a bit tight so I want to lose weight so I can wear it! No idea when I'll actually wear it, but still. On the Tuesday I had lectures so Mum, Dad and Michael went to Nuremberg for the day. Funnily enough I met up with them in Starbucks between my two lectures because Michael had left something in the hotel, so they had to come back to Erlangen. Bonus!
This is turning into a very long post, so I'll just say that Mum came back to Erlangen in August to help me move out, and then the madness at home started. That's definitely for another post. Bis bald/au revoir!