This week I experienced my first lessons and lectures in a German university, of which I understand approximately 10%. After 5 hours of German law I had a headache for twice as long, and copying up lectures currently involves sitting with an online legal German-English dictionary, panicking because I don’t know words such as ‘Verfassunganderung’ (constitutional change) and ‘Gesetzgebungsgeschichte’ (I can’t find a translation anywhere and have decided that this isn’t actually a real German word).
Fortunately, it seems my knowledge of German legal terminology is improving, and Friday’s lectures were easier than Mondays. However, I am still faced with the challenge of finding German friends in my lectures. I’ve only had the courage to try this once, and approached the situation with all the social grace and charisma of Neil from The Inbetweeners – I felt like the new kid at a big school, and was too acutely aware of my grammar mistakes (plus I don’t think I picked the friendliest German, he took one look at the dictionary I was hoping to use in seminars and sniggered). Perhaps I will stick with fellow Erasmus students for now.
The LMU shows no mercy to it’s exchange students and I have a fairly heavy workload even without taking into account the hours spent on online dictionaries, but we’ve managed to see more of Munich too. My ‘sisters’ (they have academic families for exchange students) and I have enjoyed sampling Munich’s ridiculously overpriced cocktails and also the zoo. Most of the time I feel like I understand German culture, but it was hard to comprehend the kind of mind that would create a zoo where the greatest emphasis was on the (vast) collection of mountain goats. This week I also learned that the Christmas wreaths in the ‘bargain’ section of my local Aldi are actually gravestone decorations – sometimes it feels like I will never fully understand this country, but I’m having fun trying.
Despite being busy getting to grips with Germany’s culture and resenting its legal system, I still miss certain things about Scotland. Another Erasmus student and I decided to round up the exchange students from our halls and make a giant pot of curry (as you do), and after a lot of sangria the conversation turned to homesickness. When I was deciding whether to go on Erasmus, I spoke to a lot of people who described their time abroad as the best year of their life/the best thing they ever did etc, and so I’ve been wondering if it’s just me. However, it turns out everyone at our little curry-party has just wanted to go home at some point. The good times and amazing new friends of course completely compensate for the occasional bout of homesickness, but it’s good to know I’m not alone in not always being 100% committed to being in Germany.
Some cures for homesickness are better than other. On Friday we decided to check out an ‘indie/Brit pop’ club which has a great reputation in Munich. We had a good night, but it was mostly obscure American rock music, and it felt a little like I was in a school disco from the 80s. Bitching about Germany (even though I love it) and watching Have I Got News for You is infinitely better – as is remembering that homesickness just means you’ve got a home in two countries for now.