Monday, 28 October 2013

The weekend of... Disenchantment

Disenchantment is, according to wikipediathe cultural rationalization and devaluation of mysticism apparent in modern society.
I can't say that I'm a proponent of this idea, but, I find the term fitting for our weekend, or how I felt during it. 

Malcolm came home late on Friday night and I was extremely happy to see him again. Not only because we'd been apart for a little while, but because I'd had an awful day. I finally went to the doctor to get a medical clearance thing so that I can get health insurance here. Malcolm had his done in SA and had needed blood tests done, so I was expecting that, but it was so different here - even though it was the same form that needed to be completed. The doctor seemed in a hurry, and did no blood tests (probably just as well seeing as they'd be pretty expensive!) but was able to assure the medical aid that I am free of Allergies, Hepatitis, HIV, and all sorts of other things just by having a look at me. Go figure. Then, as I was walking away from the building, relieved that the awkwardness of undressing in front of a doctor and being poked and peeped at was over, I realised he had skipped a section and ticked the box saying that I was not fit to receive coverage. Which means I had to go back to him today. I was so frustrated at the treatment I'd received, not having my needs taken seriously and not having the form completed correctly when we have to pay for the consultation seeing as I don't have coverage yet... and although I don't know how much it will cost, I'd expect to get the attention I pay for. 

Anyway, after wandering around from bus stop to bus stop, Malcolm and I eventually found a bus that would take us home, and it was so nice to be back with him. 

Elizabeth's Kirche, waiting for the bus to come.

He told me about the DAAD seminar he'd been at, and things he'd learned there. (I'll write about that sometime this week!) One of the things he discovered was that we won't be getting as much money as we'd anticipated - I don't know where we read it wrong, but our budget has had some serious cutting. 

That was okay; money isn't the most important thing and we both knew that academia is not all that glamorous. But with Christmas coming up, and warm clothes needing to be bought, it would've been nice to have that extra. (Don't worry, parents, we're not freezing to death and we have money set aside to buy some warm stuff!) The thing is, it suddenly felt like there was this enormous pressure on me to hurry up and find a job. There was so much going on in my mind, and as I lay trying to fall asleep, I felt so disappointed with my life. I know; what right do I have to such self-pity? My parents gave me great opportunities, I was able to study for 5 years debt-free because of them and scholarships, I'm fully qualified as something, I'm living oversees in a picturesque town, happily married and with everything I need. I am aware of that, but that's not was was getting to me. 

It was that, after all this time, I still don't know what I want to be "when I grow up"... and I kind of need to decide some time, right? When I mentioned to somebody on Tuesday night at Bible-study that I'm looking for a job he said "oh? At McDonalds? Or one better: Burger King!". I found this less than amusing, and those silly words he said struck deeper than I think he meant them to. Because, like most people, I want to make something of my life, achieve something, strive for something... and a career is one of the areas to which that applies. And suddenly feeling as though everything was for nothing, sucked. 

I did French at varsity because there was no other language that fitted in my timetable, then when I didn't like psychology, I majored in French and Media. The plan was to pursue media, but in the end I chose French again for honours. I realised after that that there wasn't much I could do with a 4-year degree in French, besides teach, and so in 2012 that's what I did. And all the while, I really got the most fulfillment out of teaching ballet. But, with the constant chorus of "I'm sure they'll need English teachers in Germany", I somehow got it into my head that that was what I would have to be when I get here. Never EVER have I actually wanted to teach English. I'm not saying I won't, and I'm thankful that I did a TEFL course, but it's not really my passion, just an option. 

So here I am, finished studying, in a country where I feel absolutely useless, needing to find a job sooner rather than later, and not knowing what I actually want to do - never having actually decided what I wanted to do. I felt like a character in a Camus novel, trapped in my life and where I am, feeling like a character that makes no decisions but just lets things run their course, wanting to close myself off and live as a recluse. Dramatic, I know. It's amazing what runs through my head late at night. I guess it was a very premature mid-life crisis of some sort. 

Fortunately, the theory of disenchantment has a second part... re-enchantment. The theory suggests that people cannot stand a disenchanted world, and they therefore return to enchantment through various beliefs and ideologies. I choose to return my gaze to Jesus; the light and hope of the world, of my world. I believe that He has a plan for my life and has determined something for me to do here... I believe this not because disenchantment is too unbearable (though it is), but because He has shown me, time and time again, that His Word is true and that He is faithful. 

I fell asleep listening to Malcolm recounting the stories of many, many people of faith in the Bible... Abraham, Moses, David, Mary... and was again inspired by the story of Gideon on Sunday... Gideon who was so weak but who was made strong for what he needed to do. Not in his own strength, but through God's. I do plan too much, I do doubt myself far too often, I do feel like I am unqualified and inferior for many things, but promotion comes from the Lord, He is my strength, I live for His glory, and I am seeking His kingdom first.

So... after an unusually emotional weekend, being given an extra hour on Saturday night (winter-time kicked in), watching many movies cuddled up due to the crazy weather, meeting new people at church, and realising again just how wonderful Malcolm is at encouraging me and reminding me what the truth about myself and life is, I am ready for this week. I'm doing some thinking and praying about what it is that I actually want to do and am called to do. I'll be doing some researching on how to make my dreams happen. And I'll be keeping an eye on jobs that are available. I know one can successfully change careers later on (yeah, you, daddy!), but I really want my days to be full of something that fulfills me. 
Starting with helping at home-work club tomorrow. 

Friday, 25 October 2013

Week recap: responsible adults

I feel like we've had a pretty productive and responsible week. Maybe not as productive as I'd have liked, but, well, we got stuff done. 

On Monday we headed to the bank for Malcolm to open an account. Last time we wanted to deposit money to make a payment, we had to pay 12euros. Had we had an account there, it would have cost only 6. (still a rip off, if you ask me) The frustrating thing is that we do have an account with Sparkasse, but in Koln, not here, which doesn't count because of the way the bank is organised. So, we finally got around to opening an account here. It's Malcolm's account (because he gets the student perks) but I have full access to it so we can both use it. This makes me feel very married. And very adult. 

I also felt very adult when I got very excited over bread. We had a voucher for a free loaf of bread, and I could choose any one I wanted, so I got one with cashews on top and was just so delicious! (And it was free, when it's usually 4.50?!?) 

I felt a little less like an adult when, on Friday night, I mentioned to Malcolm that I'd seen a mattress outside our building, which could be useful. We went out and the mattress was still there. I'm pretty sure we're allowed to take stuff, as I think it's the "Sperrmull" pile. It was a little wet, but it's the same as our couch's mattress. So we brought it in, feeling kinda sneaky, and now that it's dried and cleaned off, we're open for at least two visitors! 
We also accumulated two more chairs... one dining room chair (again from the Sperrmull) which means we can now have 2 people come over for dinner (I don't know why the flat came with only 3 chairs), and one comfy chair that I bought from a guy upstairs. I love that where it's positioned I get natural light shining onto whatever book I'm reading. 

On Tuesday we headed to the International HausKreis that we'd been invited to. We arrived there a little early (Because one never knows when a bus decides not to arrive), and met a few people. By the time it started, there were 30 of us all together! We had supper and then divided into smaller groups for a Bible study based on the gospel of John. It was really cool being with the mix of Germans and Internationals, and inspiring too, seeing how well many of the international students can speak such good German! After the Bible study we just hung out a while longer chatting and getting to know people. We were introduced to a couple from Syria who live in our building and it was nice to meet them - it's hard to make friends just passing in corridors, especially seeing as we don't have many corridors to go through to get to our door! 

On Wednesday, our 7th month of marriage celebrations involved trying to figure out Malcolm's train tickets. Again, aren't we terribly adult and responsible? The itinerary that had been printed showed different trains to those on his ticket, so we needed to figure out which trains to take, which wasn't as simple as it might seem because Malcolm is only allowed for free on RE and RB trains up to a certain point, and the tickets he had involved a very  round-about route. Eventually, when it was all figured out, he needed to catch the 05:49 train, which meant we needed the 04:55 bus.

 I went with him and we got there in good time, enough to buy a coffee to drink on the platform. Then, Malcolm was off! 

I couldn't find the bus-stop going in the other direction, and seeing as there were quite a few people walking around, I decided to walk. I probably walked only 3 km, but it was beautiful in the early morning (6am) darkness. 

(Disclaimer to parents: I was attentive to my surroundings at all times and stayed in well-lit areas, avoiding ally-ways and sometimes walking on the road to avoid criminal-hiding places. I stuck to the bus-route so there were often buses driving past and I could have caught one if I felt like I was going to be murdered or kidnapped and sold)

Later in the day, I had to put on my big girl panties and go find a doctor to make an appointment to get a medical certificate so that I can get my health insurance finally sorted out. Things didn't go as planned though, so I need to try again today. I'm scared of doctors, dentists, and all those people that can poke me with needles and tell me bad news.

Malcolm had about 6 different trains to catch, which I found concerning because it's easy to miss one. His second train was running late, but fortunately the conductor called ahead and asked the next train to wait for him and some other passengers needing it. From there, it went so smoothly that Malcolm was running an hour early and waited at Siegen for about an hour for his next train, and got to Bonn without any further problems. He was there for a DAAD orientation seminar, and from the sounds of things, they were well taken care of and he was happy to be reunited with some of his friends from the CDC. 

However, it was our first night apart since we got to Germany, which wasn't too much fun and was a little strange. What did I used to spend my evenings doing? But I made the most of the situation by getting to skype Ani and Abi and chatting for a looooong time :) And, watching a chick flick and eating cookies. It was okay :) 

I'm looking forward to Malcolm getting back tonight, and then hopefully he has some photos of his time in Bonn that I can share :) 

Have a great weekend!!! 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Snapshots #1

Today is 7 months since we got married. Am I the only one who is afraid to forget special details? 
There are so many little moments that make up significant ones, and they’re so precious.

So, today I'm writing down just a few of the things I don’t want to forget about our wedding day, from waking up until the ceremony...

-          Waking up way earlier than planned, and mum bringing me a cup of coffee and a rusk, and sitting in bed with me chatting.
-          The fact that I had a list of things that I remembered as I was falling asleep that I wanted to check. “Mum, do we have tea-bags???”
-          The feeling of calm as Charne did my makeup, Ani and Cara were packing my stuff, and mum and Cara-Lee were enticing Ruby to my shoes.
-          Slipping on mum’s wedding shoes, but this time as a real bride.
-          Stopping by the reception place and seeing the lanterns hanging, and really wandering how Lindsay did it?
-          Arriving at the church and calling mum over because I felt like my dress was doing something weird.
-          The bells ringing and ringing and ringing and me not knowing when to walk in.
-          Walking down the aisle with daddy, and seeing all the smiley faces, and then Malcolm’s.
-          That Jeremy called Malcolm a “tungsten hunk” and that the message he spoke was an analogy to dirty digging machines. I was the diamond, Malcolm was the tough stuff, I forgot the rest.
-          That one of the flowers on Malcolm’s lapel was loose and the whole time I really wanted to fix it.
-          Not knowing until the moment which finger I was going to put Malcolm’s ring on... left or right?
-          The moment of the first kiss, and then feeling bad for getting makeup on Malcolm’s suit.
-          Holy Communion as husband and wife, our first act as a married couple, honouring the One who made it possible, and who we represent - man and wife ; Christ and His bride. 
-          The fact that we were both teary-eyed and my nose was running and I SO badly wanted to use the cloth that was by the communion-stuff as a tissue.
-          Listening to Wolfgang play “the sweetheart tree” as everybody left the church, and it was only us left.
-          Exiting the church and realising that my dress was a great petal-trap.
-          The giddiness and excitement of being congratulated, and losing my husband in the crowd in the process. 

      Really, it was the perfect day. Maybe next week I'll carry on, with snap-shot moments in my mind from the reception :) 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

eShowe in a Day... dream with me.

There’s something satisfying about feeling cold here in our little apartment in Germany, and skyping with my mother in little eShowe, South Africa, when she mentions it’s cold and rainy there too. I guess it’s because we’re mid-seasons, just like when we moved here in June and the weather seemed the same in Frankfurt as it was in Durban where our plane took off. Of course, one down side to the rain that Durban is having right now is that it does interfere with the wireless internet connection of Malcolm’s parents, and we haven’t really been able to skype them since September.

Anyway, so it got me thinking about what might be happening right now in little eShowe, the town I consider my home-town, where I grew up since I was 5. I haven't really shared much about it, seeing as the blog started as we left South Africa, and I feel like I've committed treason for writing more about German towns than my own ;)

My 6th birthday party, 2 months after moving to eShowe.
The weather is probably the same as here right now. The forest is probably just as wet. But it’s a beautiful town, and I do love it – probably more now than when I actually lived there! So, seeing as it's Travel Tuesday (Thanks, Bonnie Rose!), if you were to visit with me for one one day in eShowe, what would it be like? Let’s imagine it’s Saturday morning...

We’d wake up and all sit together on our veranda, drinking a cup of coffee (it will be filter coffee, because it’s Saturday) with a rusk or two (or three). Ruby would run around the garden searching for moles or mongooses, and there might be monkey’s in the fig tree, trying to access the seed in the bird feeder. Or, seeing as it’s fig-season, there are probably a few hornbills or louries perched on the branches.

After coffee, it’s time to make a shopping list, get dressed, and head out for breakfast/brunch. The obvious place to go is Made at Home. Located in a home along Kangela street, Ilona (who also made the beautiful little blue pots with the candles in for our wedding), runs the most amazing morning market where one can buy fresh produce from the area. Although mum will probably buy some peppers or green beans there, I’m there for the coffee and cake. Ilona’s muffins and cakes that she bakes are SO good, and there’re always sweet and savoury options freshly baked that morning. 

Ani and I feeling overwhelmed by the size of our cakes...
the cakes on the Saturday before Easter. yuuuuum! 
We find a table and have a seat, and say hi to those that we know that come by. It’s impossible to go in there without seeing somebody you know, which is why Malcolm was almost late to our wedding after Martin dashed in 'quickly' to buy a muffin for breakfast.

From there, we head to the Mall, to Pic n Pay or Spar, and buy whatever it is that we need for lunch. From there, we head to Dhlinza Forest. We wander through the forest, admiring the big old trees and maybe even seeing a duiker (if lucky...). 

The top right photo is of Malcolm and me the first time he visited eShowe, and on the left, mum up a tree...

The trail takes us up onto the boardwalk, where we have a beautiful view over the canopy of trees. There are two places that I know of from which one can see the ocean from eShowe, and this is one of them (on a clear day and if standing on the picnic table!). Or have the trees grown too tall already?

After working up a bit of an appetite, we find a picnic spot and Daddy lights the braai fire. We sit around chatting and eating Simba chips (they don’t have paprika flavour!) waiting for the food to be ready. The meal, consisting of much meat, and some salad, is probably the most relaxed meal one can make, and always tastes great.

Because you’re a visitor, we need to show the ‘proper’ sights of Eshowe too, so we go to the Fort Nongqayi. This fort was built in 1883 and was used by the Zululand Native Police and again during the Bambatha Uprising.  

There’s also a basket museum there, which features baskets woven by some well-known master-weavers, as well as an art gallery, curio shop, and Norwegian Chapel. I also really like the Butterfly dome which is pretty to walk through; though it’s fairly small, it’s nice to see the butterflies in an environment that isn’t steamed up and suffocating.

Eshowe is a very small town, and from there, a drive around with a few hops out the car will show you the rest... passing by the town hall, the old jail (we forgot to get a photo of us on our wedding day outside the new prison by the sign that says “a place of new beginnings”!), Mpushini waterfalls, and then a drive out towards Nkwaleni where you can see the beautiful sugar-cane fields, depending on the time of year, and the roads on which I learnt to drive (that's when I wasn't practicing on the airfield or at the dam). 

Mpushini falls, the dam, Nkwaleni. 
You might also see cows, or pigs, or a man walking his goat... see if you get lucky ;) 

Coming back that evening, it's probably pizza for dinner - the very best made by mum. That’s home. 

Yes, her pizzas are square. I don't know at what age I learnt that they're usually round...

Monday, 21 October 2013

The weekend of... exploring

The sun came out this weekend! That, my friends, was a glorious sight.

On Friday I went to the library and, after an awkward registration process with a man who answered with single words and a kind lady showing my how all their high-tech check-out machines work, I was able to take out some books. I'm pretty excited that they have a big English section as well as French, though I also challenged myself with a German book. Martin, I carried a German Terry Pratchett around for a while, before realising that I probably wouldn't understand it, and settled for a fluffy-girly-book instead ;)

I then went for a walk and found a really pretty street with beautiful old houses along it.

I also rented a DVD from the library, so that evening when Malcolm got home, we could watch that together, a cosy way to end the week!

On Saturday, with the sun shining, we decided to go up to the castle. We took the bus into town and then first went to the old botanical gardens. They're quite small, but there's a pretty pond in the middle and the autumn leaves were just so beautiful. And, we saw a sweet little squirrel! It was adorable, running up and down the tree.

We then wandered and wound our way up the hill to the castle.

We eventually made it to the top and the view over Marburg was just amazing, I'm so glad we went on such a clear day!

We chose to save going inside (i.e. paying) for another day, but did go into the courtyard in the centre, which was quite impressive. From the bottom of the hill the castle looks more like a mansion, but when we were closer it was easier to see the castle-y elements. The walls around it also look pretty imposing and I can imagine they must have been quite the challenge!

We intended to head straight back down again, but realised there is a park next to the castle which, again, was just beautiful in the autumn colours. We wandered around it for a while, sat on a bench and pondered life, and discovered why chicken little thought the sky was falling down when an acorn fell on him.

Having had enough of being pelted with acorns, we headed down the hill again and went to the Markt to find Edlunds, a Swedish coffee shop. We have a booklet of vouchers from when we registered our residence, and we're determined to use the ones we like before they expire at the end of the year. So, we used our first voucher to get a buy-one-get-one-free waffle, which was deeeeeelicious. We will most certainly go back to use our second voucher there!

It was a wonderful day out, and I certainly enjoy wandering the streets with Malcolm rather than alone!

On Sunday we also did our fair share of exploring... we walked to church, which is 3km away if we take the short cut through the forest, and then went to a couple for lunch. To get to them though, we took a 'short cut' through the forest which turned out not to be much shorter at all, and mostly uphill, though it was a fun adventure. We took about 50 minutes, and were SO happy to finally arrive. It was really fun to hang out with Nicole (who I met at the moms group) and her husband and kids and lunch was delicious! It was a great afternoon and we left feeling full, our brains feeling tired from German, but mostly just happy!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Week Recap: Making it home.

This last week wasn't incredibly exciting... Though I enjoyed it because our apartment is becoming home-y. Since the carpet, we've got a few more things that make things a little warmer and cosier. The money we got for our wedding has been SUCH a blessing and has allowed us to set things up here really nicely. We're also hoping to be reunited with our other wedding presents sooner or later :) But really, I've been wanting to 'nest' since we got married, and finally have the chance, and the means, to do so now. And it's been such fun! Not only buying mundane and boring things like dust pans and laundry racks, but pretty cushions and flowers too.

So, remember how our lounge looked before? Well, here's "after", or as it is right now.

I'm pretty happy with it! A big picture frame above the couch and above the candles on the side-board are on our dream-list still... I just can't find any I like in Marburg. Also, a lamp between the couch and the dining-table would be pretty. But, we'll get there! And then we'll move onto the bedroom and kitchen, both of which still look much the same.

Other than that, we also celebrated Malcolm's dad's Birthday on the 16th... HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Dad!

The weekend of... rain and warm hearts

The Marburg Innenstadt Kirmes fair started on Friday so we wanted to go to the opening. I met Malcolm on campus and, after waiting in the cold for the bus, headed to the innenstadt. 

We got off the bus at a random stop, and I showed Malcolm a shop I had searched for shoes and found nothing. It took Malcolm a few minutes to find the shoes I had been dreaming of, which I’m so happy about. Thank you, Cara, for making Malcolm the wonderful, patient shopper that he is. We then headed into the rain and the festival – we passed by the sweet stands and watched the funfair rides. 

It was cold and not much fun, so we cheered ourselves up with a HUGE crepe with Nutella.

Then, probably on a sugar high of some kind (or desperation because the bus comes at half hour intervals), ignored the red man on the traffic light and ran across the road to catch the bus that just arrived. Crazy, right?! ;)
So, Friday night, too cold and wet to be outside and too lazy to find the cool-kids hangout, we went to a store and bought a carpet. We felt like such grown ups buying a carpet on a Friday night... But it has really made our flat a lot warmer, though I’m a little psycho about keeping it clean at the moment.
Malcolm carrying our carpet to the bus stop. 

We planned to head off early and try get stuff done. Unfortunately we missed the bus, and had to wait over half an hour for the next one. Logical thing to do? Walk... Fortunately we had a map with us. We wandered through the forest and eventually came to a road with a bus line running it. So we walked along it for a while and then waited for the next bus. So we got to the Hauptbahnhof (miraculously we still had our fingers despite the cold) and went to the ticket office thing and bought Malcolm’s tickets to Bonn for later this month when he needs to go to an orientation there. We wet to ElizabethsKirche and went inside for the first time, and then had coffee and cake at a Cafe-stube set up for Kirmes.

It felt just like the Lutheran Church bazaars I grew up with, except the cake was cheaper. There were scouts helping the old ladies, and despite the cold, they were there in their short lederhosen, which Malcolm thought might inspire the boys in Durban on a cold day. 
Afterwards, it was fun walking through the market and the shops of the Obenstadt... there were all sorts of things to look at and the toy shop was pretty impressive. At a little stall, Malcolm bought me a sweet lebkuchen heart which made me feel like a giddy teenage girl with a fluttery butterfly feeling in my tummy. At the end of our day, having accumulated stockings, wool, a knife, and a book, we sat by the river and shared the heart. It was a sweet moment. 

More shopping was still to be done, so we added socks, a pie crust, and wine glasses to our odd combination and went home from there.
Saturday night was laundry night. I had tried to do laundry before but couldn’t find the laundry rooms. So we headed off together and found an unutilised machine on the 4th floor. We tried it and it flooded the room, so once Malcolm had mopped up the floor (he’s my hero), we scratched more money together and looked for another machine, which was on the 8th floor. Seeing as we’d used all our change and couldn’t use the tumble dryer, we draped the laundry all over the lounge and it felt like we were back at Malcolm’s digs again.

We went to church again, but this time the 12pm service. It was nice to see how many students attend and there were some great people who noticed us and said hullo, welcoming us. Afterwards, we used our visitors’ vouchers and bought lunch there, and then found a table with empty seats, with two med students from Giesen. Katrin, who we had met in the service, came over and joined us too and we spent some time chatting with her. She then invited us to go with her to check out the welfare market thing at Elizabethskirche. So she showed us the shortest route into town, and then explained the various organisations that were represented at the market. Basically, NGOs or welfare services each set up a stand about what they do, and sometimes sell products to raise funds, and the public can go and see what is happening in their area. It’s a really cool idea, and because Katrin works with welfare and counselling, she was keen to make connections and introduced us to people we met, which was nice. After the market, we went back to her flat, a beautiful wooden-floored apartment close by. We had coffee and cookies with her, and later two more of her friends and their baby, and she was soooo helpful – explaining to us how to get a library card and all sorts. It was such a blessing to meet her!

Week Recap: Ups and Downs

Our day started with a simple plan: I was going to go with Malcolm to varsity, so that I knew where to go if I ever wanted to meet him there. So we took the bus. In the wrong direction. So we got out and waited for the bus back. So we got back to our home-stop. And caught another bus, which didn’t stop where it indicated it should have. So we landed up back at our home-stop. So we went inside, got a map, and followed a foresty trail to the stop where we could definitely catch the correct bus. It was then a smooth ride to the campus, and I now know where to go. I then took a bus into town and explored the town in a futile search for shoes. How I miss Schildergasse! I walked all over the town centre and looked around – it isn’t very big but it is quaint and pretty. 

 I bought a teatime snack and found a bench in a pretty spot and crocheted there for a while –it really was as idyllic and lonely as it sounds.

I couldn’t find any shoes that I liked that fit the budget and my needs so I went home. Malcolm got back shortly after, and he’d managed to register at the faculty, but needed to go into town to register at the university. So off we went together, only to find that the office had already closed at 12. Fortunately, I had taken some vouchers with, so we went to the Mensa and had a free hot chocolate and watched what student life is like here... it seems to involve much beer. On our way home, we stopped to buy some cake, which was necessary to celebrate Daddy’s birthday! Happy Birthday, Daddy!

I won’t sugar-coat it. I had a day of intense dislike for Marburg, and wanted nothing more than to leave and go back... anywhere. It started off optimistically, and I was looking forward to going to a cafe run by the church, where women meet for coffee and socailising on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So I headed off, looking forward to meeting people. I found the place, seeing as it isn’t too far away. I walked in, and felt instantly awkward. There were 8 babies crawling around on a blanket, and a lady playing with them, while a group of young women sat together at a table chatting and busy on their phones. There was a lady sitting at a table, and I sat down there, and then realised that actually, it functions like a normal coffee shop. The lady ordered for her and her daughter, while I sat there awkwardly. It was probably less than 10 minutes and I left, feeling completely alone and frustrated at my unrealistic expectations. So I headed to Rewe to buy hot chocolate so that I could go home, crawl into bed, watch How I met Your Mother, crochet and drown my lonely sorrows in liquid chocolate. While standing in the baking isle searching for cocoa and trying to decipher various baking packages that were brown but not cocoa, a man came and said the name of something he was looking for. He showed the name of the product on a paper, and I could see it was something-mehl, but I couldn’t decipher it. I said to him that I’m sorry but I don’t understand and don’t know, which got him in a huff. He went to his wife and said something to her, and she then shouted down the aisle at me that I’m stupid. I should probably mention that I think they were mentally handicapped, and so while I desperately wanted to help the man and I could just pass it off, I was really upset at having somebody shout that at me when they know nothing about me. I walked home, and was really happy to see Malcolm! He was equally frustrated; he had been to register and needed to pay his registration fee, but was 5 euros short and couldn’t remember the pin for our card because he’s never needed to use it, so he’d had to come all the way home to fetch money. So, we got the money he needed and decided to tackle the rest of the morning together – Go team B! We went to the bank to deposit it into the account. We were told we need to pay 12euros as a deposit fee, though it would have been 6 if we had an account there. Not having time to open an account, we paid and rushed back to the office to finish the registration. It went really quick, and Malcolm is now a registered student – which means that as soon as the internet guy here comes, we can finally get internet. So from there, Malcolm went to varsity and I came home. I realised I could only eat a certain amount of chocolate chip cookies before I feel sick, so I went out to be productive. Productivity can be manifested in buying loofahs, washing powder and a broom. I never knew how stupid it feels walking down the road and getting onto a bus with a broom in hand feels until then. My day was brightened somewhat by the guy who was sitting next to me, who asked if I was ok... I’m not sure if I looked like I was going to cry or if it looked like I was supposed to be flying on the broom, but I assured him I was alright, and struck up conversation. Finally, after a room of unfriendliness, being confused by the baking aisle, getting called stupid, paying to pay, getting stomped on by a lady who passed me in the bus, being thoroughly challenged in choosing washing powder, a friendly stranger was a nice turn of events.
But still, I feel like there’s pressure on me to make friends. I’m going to be here for 3 years and need to get to know people, but it really is so hard with no student card or baby. I know it will take time, and I’ll meet people as I start doing more, like hopefully finding a job and a dance studio to join.

Turned into an interesting day. I gave the cafe thing I’d been to the previous day another chance... Christina was there this time and when I walked in she took me over to a table, introduced me to some women and brought me some coffee. So I enjoyed a coffee with these ladies, getting to know Nicole, the mother of two sweet kids. Then, it was time for the moms group to head downstairs. Despite the fact that I have no child, I headed with them and had SO much fun singing songs and playing little games with the four moms and their babies. I felt like a kid again, and felt oddly at home with some of the songs I sang as a child. My spirits were definitely lifted and I left there really happy... especially as one of the moms mentioned that there are no ballet lessons up her in Richtsberg and that the ones in town are expensive. So there might be an opportunity there. Not right now, but maybe in the future.
So from there I left to the bakery to connect to their wifi... though the battery didn’t last long and there were no plugpoints. But, I managed to get some stuff up.


Nothing much interesting happened... just more shopping-scouting so that I could show Malcolm stuff over the weekend. 
There are little things that remind me of PMB, like these two restaurants... 

That evening, Malcolm could have stayed late at varsity for a first year orientation, but it mostly just involved beer so he skipped it and came home instead. Yay! Varsity here really does seem interesting... Malcolm has access to free coffee in his research groups’ room, and there’s beer in the fridge if he wants to some at tea time ;) 

Our first weekend in Marburg

Friday the 4th: Friday Malcolm needed to meet his supervisor for the first time. I insisted again that we wake up early so that we could get internet sorted out, but our hausmeister was out and we didn’t. So we sat around waiting for 10am when Malcolm would get picked up by Jorg. It was exciting and I was nervous for Malcolm, and I felt quite pathetic because I didn’t want to say goodbye –after being together 24/7 for the last week, it was strange that he was heading off, while I had to be brave and also face the adult world. In German.

So Malcolm left, and soon after I headed off to try sort out the electricity and heating. The office is far out and off the map, so I didn’t realise there was a bus running there, but it only comes every hour so it would have taken forever anyway. So I walked about a km and a half, feeling like I was walking out of town, hoping that the stadtwerk would indeed be at the end of the road. I was thankful that it was, and I was helped by a really friendly lady who explained everything (I hope) really clearly and slowly in German. I signed the contract and we’ll see in April next year how much we actually use. Scary.
I then went to the Studentenwerk to try give them our marriage certificate seeing as we didn’t have it with us the last time, but there was such a long queue that I just left it. Instead, I went home and managed to find the hausmeister just before his office hours are over, and, fortunately, the internet-guy was with him so I could make an appointment for him to come by.

I went back out to do grocery shopping, and to buy a kettle. Despite the heavy bags, I also went in search of a double-bed sheet that would hopefully keep the mattresses together. Mission accomplished, I lugged everything back to the bus and came home again. Sheesh. The buses are quite frustrating because they run only every 30 minutes it seems, and they take a serious detour around our area before heading into the centre, so they take very long and are anything but convenient. They are also quite something for us to figure out because each line’s route isn’t marked clearly on the map. But, for now we shall have to rely on them!

We woke up to some pretty heavy rain and needed to go shopping – pillows and coathangers were next on the list. 

We went to the hauptbahnhof, just to see what was there, and after sitting at the bakery, we went down the street. We found pillows first, and then a shop with just about everything at pretty affordable prices. Again, a long wait for the bus, and we headed home. Somehow our bus stopped earlier than indicated and we found ourselves a few stops away from ours. I asked the bus driver if he was carrying on, and he told us to ask the other one, so we went to the other bus and he said to ask the other driver. While I’m sure that bus drivers also need entertainment and I’m sure it was amusing for them to chat about it on their radios, it was really frustrating and it just felt mean. So we ended up walking home. That afternoon was boring... Mal did work, I crocheted... I’m making Malcolm a scarf, I hope ;)

When we ‘anmelded’, we received a booklet of vouchers for various places in the town. One of the vouchers was for something (I think a book) at a church. So seeing as it was the only church we knew of, thanks to its advert and our lack of internet, we decided to go there. We followed some foresty paths down the hill, seeing some beautiful views, and eventually found the church, just as it was about to begin. 

The place really reminded me of NCF... the worship style, the kids section downstairs, and the dynamincs. It’s in a beautiful house overlooking the city, just like NCF North is planning. One difference is the approach to visitors... I always thought that asking visitors to raise their hand was asking a bit much – that it’s a little awkward for them. However, here visitors were asked to stand up, introduce themselves, and say where they’re from and what they’re doing in Marburg. Yikes. We could have opted not to do it and just find somebody afterwards, but for the sake of meeting people, we did it. I was so proud of Malcolm for speaking for us both, and his 4 months of German paid off for sure. We could also both understand the preacher, which was sort of surprising for us!
After the service we got some lunch there, and met a kind lady, Christina, who chatted to us and filled me in on some things I could attend to meet people. There’s also an active student group, which Malcolm could get involved with, though I’m not sure about me seeing as I sort of fall in the not-a-student-and-not-a-mom-with-a-baby-gap. Apparently having a baby is a good way to meet people and make friends. Can I borrow somebody’s baby for a couple weeks?

We hiked back from church (oh, the hills!), and my need for appropriate footwear was made evident to me.