Excluding the mass panic striking at the hearts of Munich’s exchange students (MUC airport is experiencing serious delays and cancellations, according to my most recent bout of internet research), I’m enjoying my last few days in Germany before the Winterferien.
Last night was our ‘triple birthday party’ (my 20th, my friend Simona’s 21st and her flatmate’s 26th), which meant that today’s activities consisted solely of mooching around in my room slightly hungover, watching The OC, vague attempts at packing and sulking because of the weather. The party was the most effort I’ve made to celebrate my birthday since dragging a few friends to see Happy Feet for my 16th, and so I was slightly apprehensive about hosting a party (will people prefer dark or light beer? should I risk offending my co-host by attempting to play anything other than Linkin Park?) but I enjoyed the night. In true ERASMUS spirit one of the exchange programme co-ordinators showed up with a bottle of tequila which, because of its jaunty Mexican-hat-bottle top, has pride of place on my desk until we can drink the remaining half at the next ERASMUS party.
The last month or so has gone fairly smoothly in terms of fitting in with German culture and I these days I can usually converse in German without reverting back to English after about 3 sentences. However, this week I’ve discovered a few more frustrating quirks of German life, culminating in today’s discovery of several fillets of fish on ice lolly sticks defrosting on our kitchen counter. (I just don’t understand why anyone would need fish-on-a-stick. Maybe this is my culinary ignorance, maybe this is a strange German thing). German Strepsils numbed up by entire throat (in fairness, this was effective pain relief, but swallowing and the ‘sch’ sound so common in Deutsch were pretty challenging for a while. The worst incident was when I asked a two other students in Starbucks if I could take the third chair at their table – I was with two friends and we could only find a table with two chairs in our half of the shop. They were only using the chair for their bags and there was plenty of room on the shelf behind them, but they resolutely refused to give it up, and apparently it was ‘stupid’ of me to ask. According to my flatmate, this is fairly standard German behaviour – hopefully (and in my experience) an exaggeration, but this isn’t the first incident.
Moments like this can make exchanges tough, even though the incidents are concerned are usually really trivial – for example I got irrationally upset about the unnecessarily complicated 5-step process involved in printing from the LMU computers (fish on sticks, overly powerful throat sweets and people who prioritise bags over people can possibly be found anywhere, but I’m willing to bet that only Germans would deliberately make something so simple so complicated). I should make it clear that I honestly do love German/Bavarian culture and the people are lovely, and I shouldn’t make generalisations about a country where everyone has been so welcoming. Perhaps it’s just a manifestation of homesickness.
Although I’m a little bit too excited about flying home tomorrow(fingers crossed, there’s still thick snow in Munich), I know I’ll miss Munich, which almost feels like as much of a home as Scotland these days.