I am working in a little job here during my stay. Not for the money, rather for some nice experiences and my CV will be glad about it as well! I am teaching ‘Conversation Classes’ to English students learning German. These classes are not supposed to be about grammar rules or vocabulary training, they are there to make students speak, which I think is a pretty good idea. We get a broad topic every week, like ‘friendship’ or ‘movies’ and prepare fun and interesting stuff to talk about. The course is over now, it makes me sad. But I will try to keep it alive with a couple of funny and interesting moments that are worth sharing.
At first, before I will start to tell funny things about them: I am really impressed about how good and motivated the students all are! I got the ‘intermediate’ level, which means that the students have just started learning German in their first year of university and are in their second year now. One year of German is not that much; and I think German is a pretty annoying and difficult language to learn. It was kind of cool though, to be the German-expert that is able to translate and explain everything (well, almost everything)!
The first thing that comes to my mind are the funny pronunciation problems I heard. ‘Spühlmaschine’ was one of my favourite ones. They even looked a bit terrified when I wrote that on the board. ‘Streicheln’ was another good one. Or ‘karierte Strickjacke‘.
They also liked those ‘sooo German’ word compositions like ‘Gummistiefel’ or ‘Nacktschnecke’. And, (don’t make up weird stories in your mind about how we got to that topic) they laughed a lot about ‘Freundschaft plus’. Yes I am teaching them the helpful stuff! And they all wrote it in their notebooks immediately so they won’t forget it... One German thing that I was a little disturbed to find out when I prepared the session for idioms and sayings: German has a strangely large amount of sayings with ‘sausage’. And almost all of them are super common and frequently used. I first noticed how weird it is that we say ‘That is sausage to me!’ or ‘It’s about the sausage now!’ when had to explain that to English people.
Some of them came up with very creative things in the discussions and games I did: One invented a guy from Costa Rica with a parrot as a pet, because he found telling about an actual fried of his a bit too boring. Another student told us that he wouldn’t let his discussion partner move into the vacant room in his flat, since he found out that he has a serious drug problem and never washes his clothes. And when we talked about Christmas one guy really made an effort to explain in German how good the quality/price ratio of the 20£ turkey at Aldi is, which his family always buys for their Christmas dinner.
The funniest moment I had in my course was when I let them see a few minutes of the German TV series ‘Türkisch für Anfänger‘. It is about a German-Turkish ‘Patchwork-Family’ in Berlin, with a very liberal, former Hippie mother. In one scene, this liberal mother walks naked into the family bathroom, which makes the cavvy 17-year-old Turkish son standing by and seeing it pretty confused and scandalised. You only see the actress very shortly from behind in this scene, but the students looked as confused and scandalised as her stepson in the series. At least they laughed a few seconds after that and asked me, if it was normal for German moms to do that. They looked pretty relieved when I told them it wasn’t.
You will surely find a ton of blogs that compare English and German party-culture. The things I am going to write here have been probably written or told by many other Erasmus students as well. But I want to make this post anyway. Maybe I will write some rather original things that can only be found in 20% of the blogs and stories, or just in 5%. Or I might even come up with one completely new thing, but I don’t want to raise my ambition too high now...After weeks that make my average party-going statistics look a lot more impressive than they actually are, I feel experienced enough to generalise a little bit. I can picture my parents telling friends about their daughters semester abroad, who agree on the fact, as I heard from some kind informants, that I am “just partying all the time”. However, I know that my father says this with a “Good for her, but I am afraid that my dear daughter is not focusing on her studies enough”-tone, while my mom implies “calm down, it’s her Erasmus, let her have some fun”. So dear parents here it comes, a blog post about what I am apparently doing all the time:
The most party-stacked time were my two first weeks here, the first one was called orientation, the second one intro week (one mainly for internationals, one for freshers). It was not so different from Germany. Maybe it was a bit more informative and civilised during the days and a bit more drunk and crazy during the nights. They didn’t have just two or three parties over the week that everyone went to, they had one every day, and every one of them was popular and sold out quickly (perhaps the Friday one more than the Monday one though). And they don’t come up with incredibly creative department related puns to name the parties here. (“Goethe shakes beer” for a German-English department party is one of my favourite examples.)
One very noticeable difference are the parties’ time slots. In Germany, people meet for pre-drinks around 10pm and usually end up going to the party around 1. And then clubs are open till 5 or even later. Here, people like to sleep earlier. Or pub employees like to finish their shift earlier, or it is simply convention: When parties officially start at 11, British people seem to take that a lot more seriously than Germans. The dance floors are full around 12, pre-drinks can start around 7 or 8 (which is weirdly early for me) and not a few parties finish at 3. A saw some night clubs that advertised with the fact that they were open till 4 or 5, like it was something super special. I have never been to a German nightclub to the point where the music stops and the lights turn on, and here I already had that three times. But I am actually pretty fine with that; I am not that of a night owl.
Another thing I want to talk about: Dress Code. The first word that comes to my mind when I think about British party dress code is “more” (primarily related to girls though). More skin. More crop tops. More glitter. More make-up. More high heels. More cleavage. More experiments. More confidence maybe? I like the fact that people dress more adventurous and interesting in general, and of course you can see that particularly well when people dress up for parties. If you want to wear a tight pink sequin crop top with a matching mini skirt, do it, you will rock it! And I love the lack of disapproving looks on peoples’ outfits that I see so often in Germany.
However, I have one question about your party outfits British girls. Why don’t you put a jacket over them when you are outside? I feel weird standing in line in front of the club among you, in early November, wearing my cosy padded winter coat and looking at your bare legs and arms. Are you so used to standing in the cold like this that you don’t care? Or do you want to spend the one extra pound on a shot rather than on a hanger in the wardrobe? Or do you think you might meet the man of your dreams on the way to or back from the party and you are afraid that a winter jacket might put him off so that he will not come and talk to you? Be confident! If it is really the man of your dreams, he will also find you adorable in your thickest padded winter coat (and even if the colour doesn’t match your shoes)!