Walking alone

I went for another hike yesterday, from Konz to Trier Pallien along the Moselsteig path, which makes it significantly longer than if one went as the crow flies, or along the more direct Jakobsweg which I will be walking later this year.

One of the things I’ve come to appreciate over the last few years has been the ability to go walking by myself, to give myself some personal space for reflection and peace of mind. It’s something I’ve never really been able to achieve in any other activity, but something which seems to be particularly possible, particularly enabled when I go off by myself for a few hours into the woods, or up a hill. I don’t know why, but there is something about feeling alone, really alone, with yourself and with your thoughts which is appealing, and which helps me feel somehow calmer and more at peace by the time I return.

A friend of mine will also be coming to see me in Trier in a few weeks, which I am also really looking forward to, as it’s someone whom I haven’t seen in quite a while. It will be good to see him again, and I feel lucky that I am so easily able to stay in touch with my friends and family in this way.

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February

I am glad that winter will soon be at an end; just one more month to go until the spring and the return of the sun. In truth the weather has not been that awful here in Trier, and when I went for a hike yesterday it was actually not very unpleasant at all. Nevertheless, it is still cold all the time and I find myself regularly getting a little bit sick as I go about my daily business. However, it’s just a matter of waiting now.

Compared with last winter, at any rate, I feel, on the whole, totally fine, even happy. This time last year was such a miserable, dark and low time that thinking about it now feels kind of strange, almost as though I can’t really imagine that that was really me, and that it really was like that back then.

I have a lot of things coming up in the near future which I’m looking forward to and which I should enjoy. Next weekend I am going to Mannheim and Heidelberg for two days for a friend. It will also be the first time I put my running skills to the test as we are planning to a parkrun in Mannheim. It will be good, too, to get to see Heidelberg, as I’ve never been to the city before but have heard it is beautiful. At Easter I will be walking from Trier to Metz with the same friend along the Way of St. James (Jakobsweg), which should take about five days, and as of last night we have managed to finalize our accommodation, so it is definitely happening.

I have also taken the plunge and decided, finally, that in August I will do a CELTA course, very likely in my home town, and then look for another TEFL job. I have almost finished the application (which is actually rather involved), and hopefully I can have that finalized soon. In general, though, I am feeling good at the minute and enjoying my life here in Trier.

 

More experiences of healthcare in Germany…

On Monday evening I started to get a lot pain in my ear. I recognised this fairly quickly as an ear infection and made my way to the out of hours medical centre in Trier. However, it didn’t get much better, which resulted in me having to go back for antibiotics and take a day off work on Thursday. My hearing is still not one hundred percent, but I am sure it will recover, as these things usually take a few weeks.

As you can imagine this has meant that the last week has not been especially busy for me, and with bad weather forecast for this weekend (though looking out my window right now I can see that forecasts were overly pessimistic), I have not been able to go hiking today either. All in all it’s a bit of shame, but I’m looking forward to getting back into my normal routine of things next week.

Moreover, this week I have also had the pleasure of trying to organize my student loan repayments (I don’t have to repay anything at present, but that doesn’t exempt me from having to send them a load of paperwork, some of which is difficult to provide as there is no legal obligation in Germany to provide a payslip every month). However, when I spoke to them on the phone, they said they would accept a letter from my employer, so I am engaged in trying to organize that at the minute.

Tonight I am going to a pub quiz at the Irish pub with a group of German students, having been invited by one of the people I am doing a sprachtandem with, as I mentioned in an earlier post. Although I can’t drink due to the antibiotics I am looking forward to it, and hopefully it will be a fun evening. I am glad, if there is anything positive in this post, that I am now starting to make some German friends…

Back at work, and hiking the Eifelsteig

This week has been fairly busy. I returned to work on Wednesday, which was enjoyable yet intense as it usually is.

This weeek I also decided to try something new, which was to try to organize some language tandems in order to improve my spoken German. This went better than expected, and I managed to organize two in the last week, in the latter of which I ended up speaking German for a full two hours. This wasn’t as difficult as I had anticipated it might be, and I feel I got a lot out of it. If I continue like this, I’m sure my spoken German can only continue to improve. Moreover the people I met were young people like me, and I hope it might lead to some kind of meaningful friendship. But I have to wait and see!

Yesterday I decided to go for a long hike along the Eifelsteig, from Kordel to Trier. I decided to do this without a map, which was either brave or stupid, instead relying on the waymarking, which is constant throughout the trail. It was beautiful, particularly the part through Butzerbacher Wald, where I had to cross some rope bridges over waterfalls.

Unfortunately towards the end there was a diversion from the path due to forestry works, which led to me getting a bit lost and having to extend my walk by about two or three miles. This was a little bit stressful, but I managed to find the way back to Trier eventually, helped no doubt by my familiarity with the forested area near to Biewer on the way to Trier.

I am glad to get out into the hills again, and I hope to make this a regular habit that I can keep up every weekend. All in all though, I am enjoying things now that I’m back in Trier, and looking forward to the weeks to come.

Back to Normality

I am now back in Trier after having spent nearly two weeks at home in the north of Ireland. I spent these two weeks mainly at home, which was often time consuming, as I ended up visiting a lot of people and spending a lot of time with my extended family. I did not do as much as I had planned with regard to anything else, but in some ways that was probably to be expected! I did however manage to get to Donegal one day for a walk on the beach.

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The main benefit however was the time and space I took to myself, to think about my life and where I’m headed, and I feel that I managed to get together a clearer path for myself that seemed to actually lead to a place where I wouldn’t be under so much pressure. I have more or less come to terms with the fact I may need to go back to university, but I have decided to give myself one or two more years to get everything into place and make that move, and have also decided that I would like to spend those years in Spain, which is a country I’ve been wanting to spend some extended time in for a long while.

That said, I am a bit relieved to be back in Germany. The constant busy-ness and need to be around other back home was a bit disconcerting and overwhelming at times, as was the disruption to my routine. I have a lot of exciting plans in place for the year coming, and am generally looking forward to getting on with it.

 

Going home, my first time in a German Sauna and the Christmas Party

This week has been very busy.

On Monday I decided to treat myself and visit the sauna at the Trier swimming pool. This is not too expensive, given what is on offer (14.50 euro for two hours). There were six sauna rooms, a steam room etc. What was new for me was the requirement to be naked. Truth be told I was a little bit nervous about it, even though in my rational mind I told myself over and over that I had no reason to be. But it was fine: once it became clear that everyone else had no problem being naked, I stopped worrying about it.

Today was the Christmas party at wine. I managed to successfully avoid drinking too much and being embarrassing, and got to talk to a few people, and, yes, I actually spoke in German. I also made my first attempt at baking in Germany for this party,¬† which was a soda bread with raisins. Although I had a bit of trouble finding bicarbonate of soda (“Natron”) here, it turned out well and most of the people I induced to try it seemed to like it. So all is good.

Tomorrow I will be getting up very early to fly from Frankfurt Hahn airport to Dublin, where my mother will be picking me up. I am looking forward to going home, and hope it will be the much needed relaxation/escape I am building it up in my mind to be…but that remains to be seen. Update soon.

Feeling normal again?

I took the step last week of making a meal plan and deciding to try to cook proper meals for myself. As the archive of this blog shows, I used to cook a lot when I was at university. Transitioning into cooking in a new environment has never been something I found easy, and for the last few months I had got myself into a somewhat self-limiting pattern where I would buy the same things every weak and make myself the same very basic foods for every meal. I don’t know why this particular adjustment I found so difficult to make, and finally having “broken through” this week, just before Christmas, I started down a path of thinking about moving, the path I am on, the uncertainties of the future, and the way such frequent moves seem to dislocate you from a sense of time and place and permanency and relationships. Or something.

Today I tried to go for a walk but was thwarted: the snow which up until now seemed to cover all the hills around Trier has melted, and we have had a lot of rain, with the result that the river has been overflowing and all the paths have been shut.

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This week is also my last week at work before Christmas. It will not be a particularly difficult week, with many of the lessons taken up by Christmas parties, but I’ll be glad when I finally make it to Ireland after all the preparations of the last few weeks. Tomorrow I am also going to go to a sauna for the first time in Germany, a reward for myself for having made it to 5K. I am a little bit nervous about this as nudity is required here, but I suppose that is something that has to be endured.