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.

Getting settled

Today was my first day back at work after the holiday, and although I ended up staying a lot longer than I anticipated after school was over, it was a nice feeling to get back into my routines and get used to how things are going now that I’m back in Trier.

In the past week I have also been thinking a lot about what I’d like to achieve now that I’m back here before I leave, which will probably be at the end of July. I want to continue down the road I’m on, getting better at German, getting fitter, and gradually clawing my life back from the stressful mire I found myself in in 2017.

When I was at home in Derry I was plagued by a kind of obsessive anxiety about what I’m going to do once I leave Trier, and whether I should pursure teacher training. Thoughts (and worries) about the future have probably been occupying too much of my mental space lately, and I’ve decided that I need to give myself a breather, and let myself regain some space to think about things more seriously.

I have also realized that this blog has now been going for over a year, my first post having been written in December 2016. It’s a strange feeling to look back and think about how much has changed since then, but it is also satisfying to realize that what has changed has changed for the better, in a variety of different ways.

I have a lot of plans for the coming months, and it’s likely I will be very busy. And yet I am not feeling daunted, but rather optimistic about what 2018 is going to bring.

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.


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.


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.

Small achievements

On Tuesday (yesterday) I ran 5K. This was a special thing for me, as it was the first time I’d done it since I was about 16, when I was competing quite seriously in judo and was very fit. My goal now is to continue up to 10K, after which I’ll probably try to simply maintain that level of fitness. It felt good, and I can’t deny the positive impact all the exercise I’ve been doing in the past few weeks has had.

That said, the last few days have been a little bit stressful for me. One of the teachers at my school has been sick, so I have been given a lot of cover duty for the next few weeks. This has involved, amongst other things, supervising a class which contains a number of children with difficult behavioural issues. Today I spent half of the lesson standing at the door trying to physically prevent them from leaving the room. Tomorrow I have the same class again. I had hoped to get them to sing some songs and maybe play charades in English, but, alas, that now seems a bit overly optimistic.

Otherwise, the weekend is coming soon, and on Friday next I will be flying back to Ireland for Christmas. At this point I will be glad of the break, though I don’t look forward to trying to travel in such a busy period. The looming Ryanair strikes are also a bit of a worry, and I hope that I won’t be caught up in it, but there is not much I can do about it right now. Aside from that, on Thursday night I will be going on for dinner with the other ELAs in Trier, as a nice way to end our first semester here, which I’m looking forward to.