Based on some quick maths and a look at my calendar, I have about 70 days left in Munich, and, based on how quickly the time is going, 9 weeks doesn’t seem like nearly enough time. My aunt visited me from Glasgow and so the weekend passed in a whistle-stop tour of Munich and Salzburg. This involved visiting many beer halls and beer gardens, and I’ve had more Weissbeer this weekend than I’ve had on ERASMUS so far. I’m perhaps a little too proud of the fact that I can now easily handle a half-Mass/500ml and can advise people on which kind of beer (Dunkel, Helles, Weiss) they would like based on their preference of beers available in the UK. To be fair, this time last year I disliked pretty much any beer that wasn’t a Desperado, and thought it was acceptable to drink a pint using a straw. There’s a facebook group called ‘I’m not the same after my ERASMUS’ – the profile picture is one of the evolution diagrams leading from homo habilis to ‘homo erasmus’, a cheery chappie holding a cocktail, but aside from that it’s a pretty good representation of the great effects that an exchange year can have on you. Believe me, it goes deeper than being able to handle your beer better.
It was nice to feel like part of the city when I was showing my aunt around – blending in with the locals nursing their pints in an off-the-tourist-track beer garden, cooking German food back at the flat and knowing where we could get half-price cocktails (even if she did order extra-large mojitos because ‘normal or jumbo’ is ‘nor-MAHL oder jum-bOAH?’ in Bavarian). A whole academic year seems like a lifetime when you’re jetting off to your host country, but it’s a good feeling to find that what used to be a new, scary city is now a home away from home.
As we’re planning to take part in another 10km run and my fitness levels are less than impressive, I decided to use my free Tuesday evenings for karate class. I did karate for a couple of years with one of the Edinburgh University clubs (shukokai, if anyone’s interested) and so I figured that the lessons would be roughly the same set up. However, either I picked a particularly trying class, or Germany just makes everything harder than it needs to be. Although the class was only 90 minutes long, we spent the first half hour repeatedly lifting up benches in groups of about 5, whilst the instructor yelled at us in a mixture of Japanese and German. He also ensured that I stuck out as the foreign exchange student by explaining everything to the class very slowly in English, after picking up on the fact that I was from the UK. I’m going to venture back into the dojo, and maybe try to prove that I at least know the German words for ‘kick’, ‘punch’ and ‘kata stance’, but giving up and just going jogging is tempting.