Auf Wiedersehen und Danke schön!

goodbye

Nuremberg in Numbers:

Twenty-four: the number of weeks I was living in Germany.

Three and a half: the number of months winter lasted.

Eight hundred and sixty-four: the number of hours I worked.

Five: the number of wonderfully dedicated people who came to visit me.

Nine: the number of days I have left.

 

It has been a long journey, but it’s finally coming to an end. I feel like I’ve been here so long at this stage, that I’m pretty much a part of the furniture. However, I feel like a piece of furniture which is living in the wrong house. I have been put there for a while until my old home is ready for me to move back into it again, and every day for the last one hundred and seventy two days I have been looking forward to returning to my proper abode. I’ve been waiting (not always patiently) to come home.

Now, I am on the final stretch. The road before me is smooth and I can just about see the finish line up ahead. It hasn’t always been this way though. There were times along the way when I thought I would never reach the end. I felt tired and alone and I just wanted to sit down in the middle of the path and cry. Cry so hard that my tears formed a river beneath me and carried me the rest of the distance I needed to travel.

But looking back now, I’m glad I walked this route. It wasn’t something I was looking forward to and it definitely isn’t six months I would like to repeat again, but I feel a great sense of accomplishment, knowing that I can do this (and have done it!) on my own.

Despite the fact that winter here lasted what seemed like an eternity and was the coldest in Germany since way back when, I don’t want to paint a picture completed covered with thick, dark clouds, because I feel that would be unfair. Unfair to a city which, I’ll openly admit, is beautiful. The buildings here have been rebuilt and there is a wonderful mix of the old and the new. Riverside cafés, pretzel stands and bakeries filled with assorted glazed pastries on every corner, market stalls specializing in every possible knick-knack, along with an abundance of fountains and statues all contribute to the character of the city.

Of course there will be people and things which I will miss: my work colleagues (i.e my work friends) and the crazy conversations we have together and the uncontrollable laughter which follows, the friends I have made in the apartment complex, the public transport system here (seriously, why can’t there be U-Bahns at home?), the regular restaurants which I frequent and their welcoming staff and last –but by no means least- pretzels! Trying to imagine a world without pretzels is just heartbreaking! Although for the past twenty years I have survived just fine knowing little of their existence, I now find myself wondering “without pretzels, what’s the point?” I figure I’ll just try and stuff as many of them as possible into my case (and face!) before coming home!

So, to sum up, Germany –and Nuremberg in particular- is a very picturesque place. There are some wonderful people here, some great sights and some DELICIOUS breads! This has definitely been an experience to remember, something which has helped me to grow and become independent, and a reminder of how much my home, family and friends mean to me.

Thanks for all the memories, I’ll never forget them.

I guess all that’s left to say now is:

Auf Wiedersehen, Deutschland!

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The return of the prodigal daughter

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Pandas know what they’re talking about!

Wilkommen zurück! Bentornato! Bienvenue à nouveau! Basically, welcome back! 🙂

Sorry for the lack of posts as of late, but as you know I was back home in Ireland for Easter. And it was GREAT!! I had such a lovely time with my family and boyfriend. I didn’t actually do that much, but that’s kind of what I wanted. Last time I went home with an agenda to do this and meet that person, and it was just too much! I was mad I didn’t just chill out more and enjoy the simple stuff.
So that is exactly what I did for this trip home: nothing! And it was EPIC!!
I mean I did small stuff, like go for walks with my mum and visit my grandparents and go out for dinner and go shopping and get pizza with le boyf, but nothing hectic. Also, I ate Easter eggs, as promised! My goodness, they should sell them the whole year ’round… although I’d be über fat afterwards and probably broke too… On second thought, maybe not!
It was super hard to get me to come back here. Not because Germany’s awful or anything *darting eyes* … but just because I’m a home bird at heart and I’m really only my happiest when I’m at home or with my family. At the start of this stint abroad everyone said “Oh, the experience will do wonders for you” and “You won’t want to come home once you have a taste of freedom and independence”. To these people I say, I have tasted freedom and it made me go:
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That is not to say that I am dependent on other people in order to survive… I’m just saying it makes things a lot easier! I’m obviously managing, because I’ve been here almost 3 months now (is that ALL?!) and I’m still alive, so that’s always a good sign! I’m simply saying that having other people around makes me A.) happier and B.) less likely to die by eating out-of-date foods because I forgot that not all foods last forever …Do you see why I need other people now?
Anyway, that said, I’ll try and veer this post back to the direction in which in started, i.e. my return from the homeland!
And now for social niceties: how was everyone else’s Easter? Do anything much? Eat as many eggs as I did? Tell me all!
I might get to post later today and if not then it’ll be au revoir until Monday (I’m not going away again, I just use the weekends to sleep… a lot! *See the above pandas*). Hope y’all have a nice weekend!
As they say in German- Viel Spaß!

hugs x

Homeward bound

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Ok, so as promised, today’s post will pertain to my trip home!

For those of you who don’t know me that well (shame on you!), I’m an Irish girl who’s currently living in Germany. I think that’s pretty much all you need to know!

Oh, and I love my family, boyfriend, friends and home country very much!

So, as I was saying, I’m flying home this evening so I can spend a few days at home over Easter (because who wants to eat a load of chocolate on their own!). This means that from this evening until next… *consults a calendar* Thursday (ooh, that’s a week!), I will be out of office, so to speak. I know what you’re thinking; “But Claire, how ever will we survive without your captivating mix of language and life related blog posts until then?!”, to which I say “Breathe. It will be ok. If you are anything like me then you’ll be spending the next few days gorging on vast amounts of chocolate, and will not notice much going on outside of the fridge”.

I am über excited (who says I’m not improving my German here!) about being home again. I am, of course, dreading the travelling again. Let’s do the math here:

Travelling = hard work

Hard work + Claire = Grumpy Claire

*

Hard work = stress

Stress + Claire = even Grumpier Claire

*

Stress = sweating

Sweating + Claire ≠ attractive

Do you see why travelling + Claire ≠ excitement? Now being home + Claire = EXCITEMENT OVERLOAD!! It’s just the travelling part I dislike.

And why? Well because it’s long and tricky and tiresome and there are too many suitcases and not enough aisle space and there are people everywhere and it’s loud and uncomfortable and it seems to go on forever…. like this sentence!

Some people love travelling. They think it’s better than the actual destination. To these people, I say this: [click here por favor]

I would just prefer to be able to click my fingers and *poof* be in the place I wanted to be in. Even when I’m at home this happens- e.g. I’ll be in my house and it’ll be late and my boyfriend will text and I’ll want to be able to just *click* and be out at his. I think this is probably to do with the fact that I am inherently lazy.

Digression aside, I just think travelling would be so much easier if there was no actual travelling involved. To myself, I say this: [one more time with the clickety click]

So to sum up: I’m going home, I don’t like travelling , I’m good at basic math and, as always, memes are fun! ^^

Peace out! xx

Another Eggscuse for Chocolate

*drool*

*drool*

*WARNING: this post will contain numerous Easter puns (see the above blog title), all in very poor taste. It is your job, as dedicated readers, to A.) Find all of these puns and B.) Add your own ones in the ‘comments’ section below. Eggstreme dedication and patience required*

Easter is just around the corner and we all know that means one thing: Easter eggs! Eggsciting stuff, right? That’s right, Tesco (American version = Fresh & Easy, I think) are offering their ever-tempting deal of 2 eggs for €3 (I’m not working out the dollar/ any other currency rate) and I plan on scrambling to the store and taking advantage of this offer when I am home (I’m flying home tomorrow night for a few days over Easter… but more about that in tomorrow’s blog!).

Anyhoo, as I was saying… Easter! Basically, if you’ve been living under a rock for the last few hundred centuries, then Easter is celebrated at the end of Lent in memory of Jesus’ death and resurrection. More recently though, the tradition has become a lot more commercialized (hasn’t everything?) and the notion of Easter eggs has gradually seeped into multiple cultures. In Ireland, for example, the Easter eggs that we have come in an eggscellent range of sizes; small, medium, large (you get the gist!). In Germany, I’ve noticed that the eggs seem to be much smaller (but I could be wrong, that’s just what I’ve observed from my time spent shopping in Aldi).

Personally, I love Easter eggs, because for some uneggsposed reason the chocolate they use for the eggs tastes absolutely AMAZING and WAY better than it does for the rest of the year (even though I’m presuming it’s the same chocolate that they use… odd!). And yes, before you ask: I am a self-confessed chocoholic (Dairymilk and Galaxy are my favourites!)

But I’m not actually writing this blog post to inform you about my eggstra strong love for chocolate. I’m actually here to tell you a little bit about how Easter is celebrated in some other countries, because what is life without diversity! So here we go:

*Sidenote- This is, of course, just a very tiny sample of some Easter customs, as I am not an eggspert in this area. Please feel free to add traditions from your own country/ any other countries whose traditions you know of. I like to learn about new places! Thank you *

Germany- is regarded as the birthplace of modern day Easter icons like the Easter bunny and the Easter tree. Children in Germany have to find eggs and chocolates hidden by the Easter bunny (Osterhase) on Easter Sunday. Other traditions include baking lamb-shaped cakes and hanging painted eggs from the Easter tree with colourful ribbon.

France- incorporates the Easter Fish and Flying Bells into its Easter festivities. On April 1st, as an April Fool’s Day trick, the children try and stick a paper fish onto the backs of as many adults as possible. The Flying Bells (Cloche volant) symbolize the mourning of Christ and are rung on Easter Sunday morning to bring chocolate and eggs to the children.

Russia- participates in the tradition of decorating the Easter eggs. Eggs are usually painted red, to symbolize Christ’s blood. The family dinner is also a very important part of Easter in Russia. Cakes known as kulich (кулич) are baked and families play games with the eggs, such as smashing two boiled eggs off each other and seeing which one breaks.

Hungary- does things a little differently! A bucket of water is poured onto a woman of the Palóc minority on Sunday and Monday. The woman wears her traditional clothing while she has the water thrown at her.

Norway- also cherishes an interesting tradition. Not only do they carry around pieces of bread in their pockets on Holy Saturday, but there is the belief that all murders will be solved at Easter and so detective films are usually shown on the television and magazines publish crime stories.

And that’s Easter in a nut shell… or should I say in an egg shell! (Oh c’mon, someone had to say it!) I look forward to hearing any other egg-related puns you may have to offer, but please remember- try to be original with them, we’re trying to crack people up here!

As always, hugs xo

Ireland (sham) rocks

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As the Irish representative in Germany I wanted to write briefly about St Patrick’s Day, which is celebrated this Sunday, March 17th. Although currently residing in Nuremberg, I will be sporting green this weekend in honour of my country’s patron Saint. Some of the festivities associated with St Patrick’s Day include:
– Wearing green, white and orange clothing and hats
– Painting shamrocks on your face
– St Patrick’s Day parades, including colourful floats, music and dancing from all over the world
– Dying the rivers green (Chicago is famous for doing this every year)
– And of course, having a pint of Guinness!
St Patrick’s Day is celebrated not just in Ireland, but also in countries such as America, Argentina, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, Russia, New Zealand and Australia. It has become a worldwide event, with people who have never even been to Ireland dressing head to toe in green. It is a day to celebrate all things Irish and I’m looking forward to seeing what Germany has to offer come this Sunday. As they say in Ireland, “Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit!” (Happy St Patrick’s Day!)

* * * * * *

Als die irische Vertreterin in Deutschland wollte ich kurz über dem St. Patricks Tag, der diesen Sonntag am 17. März gefeiert wird, berichten. Obwohl ich im Moment in Nürnberg wohne, trage ich dieses Wochenende wohl grün, um den Namenspatron Irlands zu ehren. Einige der Feierlichkeiten, die mit dem St. Patricks Tag verbunden werden, sind:
-grüne, weiße und orange Kleidung und Hüte tragen
-sich Kleeblätter auf das Gesicht malen
-St. Patricks Tag Umzüge, bunte Festwägen mit Musik und Tänzen aus aller Welt
-Flüsse grün einfärben (Chicago macht das jedes Jahr und ist dafür bekannt)
-und selbstverständlich, ein Bier (z.B. Guinness) trinken!
Der St. Patricks Tag wird nicht nur in Irland gefeiert, sondern auch in Ländern wie Amerika, Argentinien, Kanada, Großbritannien, Japan, Russland, Neuseeland und Australien. Er ist mittlerweile zu einem weltweiten Ereignis geworden, an dem sogar Leute, die noch nie in Irland waren, von Kopf bis Fuß grün tragen. Es ist einen Tag um alles Irische zu feiern und ich freue mich schon zu sehen, was Deutschland in dieser Hinsicht zu bieten hat.
Wie man in Irland so schön sagt, “Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit!“ (Einen schönen St. Patricks Tag!)

Mum’s the word

mothers day

Ok, so I know it’s celebrated in May in certain countries (America and Germany are just two that I know of), but Mother’s Day is just around the corner in Ireland! This Sunday, March 10th, mothers all over the country will (hopefully) be showered with cards and gifts from their children to show them how loved they are.
I have a very soft spot for my mum, as she is also my best friend ❤
We get on great and chat about everything with one another! Over the years our relationship has only gotten stronger, despite the odd argument along the way.
I am currently in Germany so I cannot physically be with my mum this weekend, but we will Skype and keep in contact no matter what. My brother at home has bought a few things for her, which I will reimburse him for when I get home at Easter. Still though, I would like to do something nice for her to show her how great she is and how much she means to me, and I’m just looking for suggestions off you guys!
Whether it’s a poem written for her, or something I can send home to her, or even something I can do for her when I get home- I’d just like to say thanks to my best friend, and to the best mother in the world!
Appreciate any help you guys might have, and also feel free to tell me about your own mothers… I always love a good mom story 🙂

Danke schön xx

p.s Here’s the link to a lovely (but definitely tear-jerking) blog post about a wonderful mother who is sadly no longer around. If you’re going to check it out, I advise bringing tissues!
http://k8edid.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/tea-with-my-mom/

Packing sucks

young woman standing on over packed suitcase in bedroom

Since when did I start to dislike packing? Most people hate it, but I used to love it when I was younger. I used to help my mum pick out which clothes we would bring and it used to be pre-holiday game. It would build up excitement levels and get me in such a good mood. I used to look forward to getting out the suitcases and throwing open the wardrobe doors to select the lucky items of clothing which would accompany us on our travels.

Packing used to signify summer clothing, because we usually traveled abroad to Majorca, and as you may know the weather there is slightly better than what we would be used to in good ol’ Ireland. At home, even in the summer you wore your winter clothes. The odd day when the rain stopped for long enough to let a little peep of the sun shine through people went mad and lost all logic. Shorts were worn, string-tops and flip-flops saw the light of day again after three consecutive years in the wardrobe; basically we lost the run of ourselves altogether. People got sunburned and thought this was great as it looked cosmopolitan (it actually looked more like we were trying to impersonate the Polish flag: red and white).

The key to dressing weather-appropriate in Ireland should be this: layers. Start off the day by wearing numerous layers (a t-shirt, cardigan, jeans, a light blazer and an anorak). As the day progresses take off/put on additional layers as required; for example when it stops raining, remove the anorak. When the sun comes out, throw off the blazer and cardigan, and swap the jeans for shorts. When it begins to rain a minute later, add a pair of thermal tights. Etc. Etc.

But I am going off the point at which this post is aimed, to wit, packing. I used to see packing as the beginning of a summer adventure; I now see packing as my mother used to see it: a tedious task involving far too much thinking and far too little alcohol. Last night I was trying to throw a few bits into my suitcase to bring home. I should mention I am going home for just under four days. As of this morning, my suitcase will not close. I have not finished packing yet.

Where’s the alcohol?

I didn’t even think I had too many (unnecessary) items packed into my small case. It’s one of those cases that are supposed to fit in the overhead lockers of the plane, and it is currently looking like it is about to have a suitcase-aneurism. If it bursts at the airport later and I am left surrounded by a mound of my own dirty washing, I will just nonchalantly walk away from said mound as though I have no idea how it came to be there. I am trés cool like that.

So yes, my case is mostly full of washing. My mum said if I brought it home, she would wash things for me and have everything dried and ironed before I went back. I think you can all see now why I love my mum so much. I have been doing washing here for the last seven weeks straight and I’m sick of it. There is also no means for me to dry my clothes other than in the shower. I am used to having a clothes-line at my disposal; having to hang jeans up, then remove them a while later to have a shower, and then put them back up again so that they dry in under a week is starting to grate on my nerves. I forgot I had a top hanging over the shower railing one morning and because I was half asleep I just had a shower and washed my top again… this time with shampoo. Oh the joys of living in an apartment.

Anyway, I’m trying to get away without having to check-in any luggage for my flights, so I will use my suitcase as hand-luggage and my laptop case as my handbag. The laptop bag is another hot mess. It contains not only my laptop, but other such vital items as my actual handbag, make-up (I want to look fabulous when I land), phone/laptop/camera chargers and sweets for my work-colleagues at home/me if I get hungry on the flight.

Seriously, when did packing become such a nightmare? And has anyone any other suggestions for ways to get your suitcase to close, when sitting on it doesn’t work? Gott in Himmel, save me!