Money must be funny somewhere.
These past few days have been a mixture of emotions. Ramsey has been here which has been wonderful. I have been able to breathe a massive sigh of relief in the face of things which may have otherwise sent me into a frenzy. My Betreuungslehrer, Ramona, has also been great and took me around the city on Thursday to sort out many of the bureaucratic necessities that come with living in Germany. The negative side to all of this is that I feel like have been hemorrhaging money from the moment I set foot in Erfurt. Here’s a basic breakdown:
Deposit for Accommodation: €200
Enrolment fee for university: €173.10
IKEA – €106 – I must add here that this was not an unnecessary expense. My room, whilst light and spacious, didn’t come with much in the way of bins or heating good enough to withstand the foreboding winter. I also needed cooking equipment, bedding and a €2 plant called Sally to make my room a home.
Deposit for a ‘free’ bank account – €52 – This seemed utterly ridiculous to me at the time. However, the service I have had so far was impeccable. I have received my telephone and internet banking details by post already so I can’t complain. Much.
Wochenkarte to get to and from work – €16.20
As a final blow, on Monday I will be getting a German phone and I am yet to pay my €175 rent for this month. My betreuungslehrer has negotiated that I shouldn’t pay this until I get paid, but I have no doubt that they might be a bit more impatient if they ask me again when she isn’t around.
Aside from these basic expenses involving putting a roof over my head and attending my place of work, I have also had a hungry mouth to feed and I could only put off buying shower gel and deodorant for so long. I am rationing the exfoliator I have brought with me in a travel-size bottle as I have seen that a new bottle will cost €6 here. Having seen the same price in several shops, I can no longer convince myself I had imagined it in my tired and delirious state when I arrived.
I must say though, I am lucky enough that money (or my lack of it) is my only concern right now. I do know that money is on it’s way, even if it doesn’t come for a few weeks and I know that help is only a phone call away. I’m not going to starve. Furthermore, despite all the pitying looks I received about working in a Berufschule, I absolutely loved my first day there. I had to introduce myself to the classes and then take out small groups to just chat with them about whatever we wanted. Easier said than done when the kids don’t really feel confident enough to talk to you. They were interested though and we both quickly eased into it. After a few lessons it was the kids who were insistent that they could speak no English who were asking me the questions everybody else wanted to.
“Do you have a boyfriend Miss Benson?”
“Can you say something in German?!”
The funniest thing I found about my first day was that they all seemed utterly gobsmacked that I ‘just look so British!‘. Er, what did you expect me to look like?! They love my accent as I sound like someone from a movie and they couldn’t contemplate the idea that I wasn’t joking when I said that I eat porridge for breakfast in the mornings. Very funny indeed!
All the teachers were very friendly, even the principal with his vast collection of cacti in his office. I have been invited to join the teachers choir too which is apparently a choir encompassing all the teachers of Erfurt. This seems to me a great way to establish myself in the community as a teacher, not a student and it sounds like a great laugh at the same time. I have been given a provisional timetable for next week which involves having Monday off and working only one hour on Wednesday. It would seem that I will be working only with Ramona and her best friend Elvi for the time being. They are both so keen for me to be happy though that I don’t think I will have any problems with this arrangement. They have insisted that if I am unhappy at any moment, about anything, I must just say and they will sort it. It is a great relief to have not met a single person who I think wouldn’t go out of their way to help me. Ramona seems well liked by the teaching staff which I think has gone a long way to improve my initial reception in the school. I even have my own desk which I can customise as I choose. I am going to buy another plant :).
Oktoberfest came to an end yesterday but Ramsey and I have enjoyed it whilst it has been here. Neither of us drink beer which defeats the object rather a lot but the dodgems were a lot of fun, even if my car started going backwards and I didn’t know how to stop it! It was nice to have some excitement here so early on in my trip, even if we only caught the end of it.
Yesterday was a rather special day. A whole group of the Thueringen assistents headed to the Thueringer Zoo together. It only cost us €6 each to get in and we had a wonderful day together. It was supposed to be a special ‘Zootag’. To be honest, I didn’t notice anything different about yesterday to any other potential day at the zoo, apart from a man walking around with a python around his neck. Either way though, it was a fun day out and it was nice to do something without the pressure of speaking and understanding German all the time.
In the evening, Caoilte, Amy, Rosie, Ramsey and I went out for a beautiful German meal. We found this little tavern of a place in a back street with lots of German specialities on the menu and decided to take a risk. After all, we need to sample the local cuisine before we leave! I had Rinderrouladen with Thueringen Knoedel and red cabbage. That’s meat roll with potato dumplings and cabbage to you English ;). It was a traditionally German meal and something I can tick off my list! We all agreed that this place is likely to become a regular haunt for us all.
Ramsey is leaving today and I shall certainly be sad to see him go. I am starting to find my feet though. My room feels a little more like mine and I am getting to know the city. I have a busy week at school next week so I’ll be kept relatively busy and I’m sure I’ll have made even more new friends by the end of it. I am going to be working with adults next week. Hopefully I will still have some authority in the class when my students are 10 or so years older than me. Maybe I’ll just be given a slightly different role in the class. Either way, the challenge ahead, whilst a little daunting, is ganz exciting too :).