Reflecting

At the weekend I went to Echternach by myself, which I previously visited in October, for a short walking trip. I did part of the Mullerthal trail up to Herborn, about 14km, but had to turn back due to forestry works, although I had intended to go further. The next day I had to abandon my planned walk entirely due to blisters, so did a short walk on the trail around Echternach lake (4km).

It was a peaceful trip, and one which coincided, more or less, with the fourth anniversary of my attempt to commit suicide, which ended up causing me to take a year out from Oxford and completely derailing my life, at least temporarily. It is, in many ways, strange to look back at that time and remember it, given how much has changed since then. There are of course many people I have never told about this (some of whom may read it on this blog and be shocked), but over time the shame and embarassment that I very keenly felt about this incident has lessened, almost in tandem with the loosening of the grip depression, anxiety and general neuroticism has held on me, so tight and for so long.

The last few weeks have been a little bit more stressful than before, but this is mainly due to my having more freelance work in addition to my assistantship. I am trying, now until June, to keep the rest of my life as simple as possible, and have resolved, as far as possible, to look after myself and keep up the hiking.

I have more or less come to a decision about what I will be doing after my stint here. On Friday I was accepted into a CELTA course, which means that in the summer I will be making a temporary return to Ireland before going on to seek out work elsewhere. Although I have been very happy in Germany, it’s become obvious that TEFL here is not a long term option, as wages relative to cost of living are about 1:1, making it very hard to save. I am thinking Spain, Italy, or Poland, or maybe even Taiwan or Korea, as going to Asia would allow me to save for a masters in TESOL, which I am feeling more and more inclined towards. In any case there is no rush to figure it out, and advise/experience is welcome.

As I said before, it is likely that my posts on this blog will become more infrequent over the next while, at least. In any case, happy Easter.

 

 

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On happiness and writing

Those of you who follow this blog will have noticed a considerable slowing down in the rate at which I post on here lately. This has come about due a number of reasons, firstly, that I have been a lot more busy than usual in the last few weeks, and secondly, that I am let prone to the kind of angsty, introspective moods which had in the past often driven me to write.

I am loathe to abandon this blog, and would like to keep it up, so don’t worry, I am not putting an end to it. However, it is likely that my posts will be less frequent in the future, certainly much less frequent than the twice a week I kept up for most of 2017.

The last few weeks have been good for me; a friend came to visit last weekend, and we had a really good time. We did some sightseeing, went to visit another town, went for a hike, and also spent a lot of time in pubs and cafes. It was good, and, although I sometimes find having visitors stressful, it wasn’t at all like that this time, and I actually felt very relaxed for most of the time he was here. Perhaps I am learning not to worry so much about the minor stressors which used to get to me in the past. Who knows.

This weekend we have been hit with a blanket of snow, following the cold weather which went through the whole of Europe last week. I am safely wrapped up at home, and waiting with anticipation some real signs of the start of spring…

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.

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.