Category Archives: University and Education

Lego Ergo Sum

open book

Photo copyright dpa

C.S Lewis was a man after my own heart, he once said you can’t get a cup of tea large enough, or a book long enough to suit me. Tea, reading and writing are up there with German (and now Polish) as the loves of my life. This week is “Reading Week” at Trinity, and I’ve been doing exactly that. Assignments can wait, in the library I’ve buried my head in books about the European Parliament, the birth of “Modernity” in Europe and some German experimental prose. On the bus I’ve been catching up with Bill Bryson via Kindle, and I just finished a book documenting an Irishman’s adventures in Poland during the 1990’s. Both of the above leading to some very unashamed “laugh out loud” moments during the otherwise silent commute.

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Schwellenangst

Fear

Photo copyright dpa

The Germans succeed every time in capturing, in one word, each and every airy-fairy emotion I’ve ever experienced and been unable to describe in less than three full sentences.

This time it’s Schwellenangst, meaning a fear of crossing thresholds, if we were to take it at face value. On a deeper level, Schwellenangst is a fear of crossing a line, a border, or a threshold; entering into a new phase in life.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way, and it certainly won’t be the last but coming home from Erasmus, going back to “normal” university, entering final year, and trying to make decisions for the rest of my life has been a lot to deal with.

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Life After Erasmus: Coming Off the Rollercoaster

Leaving an Erasmus year can feel a bit like getting off of a roller coaster. Photo copyright dpa

Leaving an Erasmus year can feel a bit like getting off of a roller coaster. Photo copyright dpa

Some call it Post-Erasmus-Depression, I wouldn’t go quite so far. Post-Rollercoaster-Syndrome perhaps?

You know the feeling, you’ve just been on a rollercoaster, adrenaline is pumping through your veins, and you’re not quite ready to get off, maybe you could go again. That’s kind of how I feel about Erasmus.

It was a whirlwind of a year. I’m home one month and two days now and readjusting nicely to normal life. Nothing has changed and everything is different. While abroad I slightly forgot that life was still going on here without me. Even now life is still going on, and I have to find my place once more.

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Erasmus in Numbers

Cologne Cathedral.  Photo copyright dpa

Cologne Cathedral. Photo copyright dpa

I’m a language nerd, I don’t do numbers, but for one of my final posts, I decided a numbers theme would help me summarize and save you guys the pain of yet another 1,000+ word essay.

I spent 316 days “on Erasmus”.  Of those 316 days…

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Studying in Hamburg

Photo courtesy Freetaste

Photo courtesy Freetaste

Excerpted from a speech YG blogger Andrew gave at an official reception for international students in Hamburg this January. You can read it in full on Andrew’s blog Freetaste.

I am a student from another country, the Philippines to be more precise, and now living in Hamburg.  And like some of you, I struggled or continue to struggle to speak German and to cope with the bitter cold winter.  Like some of you, I like Franzbrötchen mit Streusel, bitte, but have never tried Labskaus.  I can no longer say I am new to Germany.  I first set foot on this country almost four years ago, not here in northern Germany, but down south in the small and beautiful university town of Freiburg, where I pursued my Master’s studies. Back then and up to now, as an international student, I still have the same worries: my visa running out, applying for scholarships, and wondering when I can finally hand in my thesis or dissertation.

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Sprachschule and the B1 exams

At the end of a six-month stretch of language classes, it was time for the B1 exams.  Photo (cc) flickr user Alex France

At the end of a six-month stretch of language classes, it was time for the B1 exams. Photo (cc) flickr user Alex France

To complete the B1 level (the halfway point in the language levels), we had a party with a veritable international food buffet from everyone’s contributions. While I’m happy to finally be wrapping up my intensive classes, and I’ve struggled with them from time to time, I felt a bit sad yesterday. We all had to say good-bye to each other, including to our instructor who has worked so hard for the duration of these classes. My routine is changing again. It seems strange to not be returning to class on Monday. And now the big question for me is…what next?

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Like a fish out of water in evening class

They get them started on certificates early around here... (Flickr: ninnet)

They get them started on certificates early around here... (Flickr: ninnet)

If there’s one stereotype about Germans that is very stubborn abroad, it’s that they are sticklers for paperwork; and like all stereotypes, it is not without at least a small grain of truth. After all, Germany is the land of Bescheide, Bescheinigungen, and Belege, a country where you won’t get very far without the right Scheine, Urkunden, and Zeugnisse. Yes, just the sheer amount of words for certificate/document should be enough to remind all of us that Germans take their paperwork seriously.

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