Walking along the Mosel

Although I had initially planned to go further afield but was caught out by bus times, today I decided to go for a long walk along the Mosel, using the Moselradweg which runs through Trier. Here are some of my pictures.

It struck me as I was walking that it’s really been since early August, when I went to the Brecon Beacons with a friend, since I went on a proper walk. This is a bit shocking given that I used to be on the Oxford University Walking Club committee and led on club trips(!), but I suppose life gets in the way. I’m hoping over the next few months I can force myself to start getting outside again. There is no shortage of hills around here.

Otherwise, tomorrow I am returning to work, and yes, in a strange way, I am looking forward to it. I feel much more settled in Trier. I have finally got used to the place, have everything I need in place, and feel like I can finally get on with living my life. It is a shame that this contract is only until May, because I am starting to feel myself calmly adjusting to the place, and looking forward to all the events which happen here in the summer. I might have difficulty finding someone to take over my apartment in May/June, since the university doesn’t start until Sept/October, so I may end up staying anyway. Right now, though, I’m trying not to think too much about that, and just enjoy things as they are.

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Routine, Holidays and Boredom?

I am getting to the point where I am starting to look forward to going back to work, if only to have something fixed to do during the day (not that I haven’t been keeping myself busy during this holiday). I had my stitches out yesterday, but I was told at the doctor that I will have to wait until next week to get the results of my biopsy.

I am starting to notice an improvement in my German – in comprehension at least. I have started reading a “proper” novel (as opposed to an abridged “reader”) and was pleasantly surprised by how much I understood versus how much I had to look up. My pace was not considerably slower than the pace at which I had got through the readers, which perhaps says something about how useful those readers actually are (the painful process of stopping to look up every other word was not present at all).

I have also started the process of looking for private students and perhaps a second part time job. This has been interesting in itself. The German “Lebenslauf” is very differently structured than a British CV, and for example, need to include a photograph and details such as your place/date of birth and, often, marital status(!)  So far I have not had much in the way of a response, but it has not been long. I am planning to apply to a few more places next week, but I’ll have to wait and see what comes of that.

I am also staying strong with regard to not smoking. Today makes it a full two weeks since I smoked a cigarette, which can only be a good thing. I have been doing a lot of exercise since, which I think has helped to keep the cravings under control and has also stopped me from panicking as much as I did the previous times I tried to stop. I think it also helps that this apartment doesn’t have as strong associations with smoking as my apartment in Oxford.

 

Routine, exercise, and a trip to Saarburg

This weekend I decided to revisit Saarburg, which I had gone to with my colleagues at school the day after I arrived in Trier. Without a migraine I had a better time, and had a lengthy look around.

Saarburg has that “fairy-tale” quality that I mentioned I had picked up on in my trip to Echternach, and which seems to characterize a lot of German towns and villages. There was actually a large market taking place in Saarburg when I went, which surprised me given that it was a Sunday, when most shops are closed and the streets are usually deserted.

Having currently quit smoking for a week and a half, I am now trying to do some exercise. Last week I got an annual membership at the swimming pool. This took a hefty chunk out of my monthly stipend but I’m banking that it will pay off. You only need to go swimming more than 6 times a month for it to pay off, and I am hoping to go every day during the week. This, combined with a load of other expenses (such as bed linen, new clothes and a library membership) has left me without a lot of spare cash to do the other trips I had intended on. To be honest, though, this is not too much of a disappointment for me (though it does mean, disappointingly, that I’m missing out on a Canadian thanksgiving dinner I was invited to by one of the other ELAs in another city), as I have had quite a lot to do these two weeks, and also needed something of a break or relief from stress. I am also planning to be a lot more actively involved when I return to work next week. Hopefully the new routine will help, as will an improved and healthier lifestyle, but as always it’s necessary to wait and see how things turn out…

Herbstferien

I am currently on a two week holiday from work. I can’t in good faith say that I’ve been overwhelmed or particularly stressed out by my job, with my contract only extending to twelve hours per week, but I was glad to have the time off. It’s given me a bit of time to think about things and consider where I am heading over the next year, personally and professionally. In general though, I am feeling optimistic about things.

I am off the cigarettes again (for now), telling myself that I am “doing Stoptober”. I am not sure what “doing Stoptober” means asides from attaching an NHS-constructed portmanteau to the act of quitting smoking, but hey – let’s see how long I can last for.

Yesterday I went on a trip to Bitburg (yes, the same Bitburg of Ramones-song-title fame), which is known for its brewery – and a Nazi cemetery which got Ronald Reagan in hot water when he went there to lay a wreath at the invitation of Helmut Kohl.

Yesterday was also the Day of German Unity (Tag der Deutschen Einheit), which was a bank holiday meaning that the buses were running extremely infrequently, and moreover, that barely anything was open in Bitburg and the streets were deserted for much of my visit. It did give the place a strange atmosphere, but on the whole I am glad that I decided to get out my apartment for a bit.

I had planned to do some other trips during this two week break, but unfortunately I am limited by my income, as a lot of my first paycheck has been eaten up by other expenses which all came at the start of the month. Perhaps next month?

Adjustment

This last week has been a lot easier.

It takes time to get used to living in another place. It’s said so often and definitely has a degree of truth, but it feels hard to believe it when it feels like everything is happening to you and your life is going out of control, nothing is going right and that some impending disaster is awaiting you.

I had my biopsy done yesterday. In two weeks’ time I will have another appointment to have the stitches out and will find out if there is anything to be worried about in the mole. I am trying not to think too much about that. I also have managed to acquire a mattress to sleep on and have also arranged to get some furniture for my room. Suddenly, it feels like everything is falling into place and my life is no longer a stressful disorganized mess but that there is once again a degree of order and sense to how things are going. Coming to Germany is starting to seem like it might work out and no longer like a terrible idea that I should just abandon right now.

As of today I have two weeks of paid holiday from school. I am intending to use that to allow my wound to heal, to go on a couple of trips to nearby cities, and to generally sort out a couple of things like getting a membership of the library and the municipal swimming pool (now that I have finally been paid). I have also had the chance to think a bit more about the future and what my options are for after May, i.e. when my contract ends. Perhaps I will stay in TEFL, but truth be told I’ve also been seriously considering applying for teach first at the start of June. But I think I am going to wait until after Christmas, and see how things feel then.

 

Time in the sun, making progress, and a trip to Luxembourg

I am starting to get into a routine here in Trier, or at least that is what I am continually telling myself. I am starting to get out more, do more things, and get used to my job. My practical and bureaucratic problems now have a a resolution in sight, in part thanks to another ELA who has done a lot to help me (including getting one of her flatmates to offer me a mattress. The next task is to transport it somehow to my flat…)

The weather has also been glorious the past few days. I recently have also taken up bullet journalling, which feels like another internet fad, but which has also given me quite a strong feeling of control over my life which I had been lacking beforehand. Ticking off those bullet points is strangely therapeutic.

Today I took the bus to Luxembourg to meet up with the same ELA mentioned above (who had cycled there) for a little walk around the village of Echternach. It far exceeded my expectations, and is a beautiful place. Walking around, it was easy to see why so much of the imagery of “fairy tales” we have come to know has its origins in Germany and German speaking regions.

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I am trying to force myself to think a bit more positively, and reduce my tendency to panic and feel overwhelmed. The last few days have helped me feel a lot more “mellow” and relaxed and I can feel my mood continuously improving. I can only hope that things will continue in this direction, without the tumultuous ups and downs which have characterized the last few weeks.

The Bright(er) Side

After a week of intermittent, heavy showers the weather in Trier has changed for the better, and we are now getting a lot of sunshine in the afternoon. Given the stresses of the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to force myself to go for a walk every day and have been twice to the swimming pool, which has had some positive effects on my mood (or so I imagine). My biopsy is also booked for next week, and I am finally getting into a routine with work. Hopefully it can all continue like this, in a positive direction?

This weekend I finally sorted out a bunch of paperwork, then on Sunday went for a hike with my mentor teacher, her friend and another ELA, before meeting up with a different ELA in town for a drink. Despite some feelings of anxiety, I had a good time, and it took my mind off everything. Although some other problems have recently reared their heads (the air mattress I had borrowed from my flatmate to sleep on until I could get some furniture has developed a puncture – that personal liability insurance actually seems pretty useful now), I am starting to feel a bit more settled, and determined to get through all of it.

I have taken a lot of pictures in the last few days, a couple of which I share below.

I am also starting to notice some improvements in my German; I find myself speaking whole sentences regularly now without the need to hesitate and think about it. I am getting to know people better and starting to feel more relaxed when socializing. I suspected that I might just need a little bit more time to sort things out, and I think I was right: patience is the operative word…