Emma in Euroland

Tea, Cake and Travel: a year abroad in Germany

The Bensons!

My family came over the holidays. I hadn’t realised just how much I was missing them until it was a couple of days before they were coming. Time seemed to slow down to an unbearable pace and I couldn’t wait any longer. I bought them proper biscuits and lebkuchen and waited. I was at the station nearly an hour early, just in case ;).

The Bensons at the Walter Gropius Schule

They arrived at about half 3. I was standing on the platform, desperately trying to seek them but they were nowhere to be seen. I had feared that this would happen, so I had suggested we would meet at information if we couldn’t see each other. We met as soon as I stepped off the escalator. Mum burst into tears and the rest of us just smiled. A lot. Despite a long journey including a very crowded, 2 and a half hour train ride from Frankfurt in which both Matthew and Dad had to stand, they were all in good spirits. Even Mum, who was crying. I had prepared a little bag of goodies for when they got off the train. Water, chocolate and cake. We then headed to the hotel where we were greeted by the man outside clearly on his break and smoking a cigarette. He asked for our name and toddled off to get the key to the room.

After they had settled, I took them to the university and showed them where I live. They admitted it was basic, but liked what I had done with my space. I made them all tea and gave them a plate of Leibniz butter biscuits. It’s strange how comforting it was to have them here.

Wandering through the city.

That evening, I took them to the beautiful restaurant I had discovered on the last night Ramsey was here. We all had German food and they were impressed with hearing me speak German. They never had before. The evening was not without hiccup though. I went back to the hotel with them after our lovely meal because it was on my way home. However, when Dad sat on Matthew’s bed, we realised it was broken. It was already 10 o’clock at night and it had been a long day for everyone. This was really not what we needed. I had to call the number at reception as they don’t man it at night and speak to the guy to say what was wrong. It made me feel confident though as, as the situation required it, I just spoke in German. I was understood and I understood him. I even got aggy and he did as I asked.

It was decided that I didn’t need to wait as he said he was going to be half an hour. However, as soon as I got outside the hotel, I had an overwhelming urge to check my keys. It’s funny how you think of these things. I sat down on the floor and emptied my entire bag. Every pocket. My coat too. My key was nowhere to be found. I was tired and upset and I just wanted my parents. I text Mum to say that I was going to the restaurant to see if it was there. That was the last place I remembered having it.

*BRIINNGGGG* *RIIINNNGGGG*

Do you want Daddy to come with you? Just wait there, he’s coming now.”

Sometimes, a girl just needs her Dad. Dad left so quickly that he forgot his coat and any money. I insisted that we jump on the tram as there was one coming, even though he didn’t have a ticket. I told him that we would just stand by the ticket machine and if someone came we would pretend we were buying a ticket. He was rather disappointed with my nonchalant attitude but was not really in a position to argue at that point ;).

We rushed to the restaurant and I sneaked a look under the table. Nothing. Zilch. There was one last possibility. If I lost it there, I must have knocked it off the table accidently. Then I noticed a gap between the skirting and the wall. I put my hand down the side and there it was. My key. I was ecstatic.

The excitement was over. Dad insisted that I get the tram back and go home and he would walk back as he didn’t have money to buy a ticket.

That’s stupid. I’ll buy you a ticket if you’re so worried!”

While we were on the tram, I received a text to say that everything was sorted, Matthew had been given an extra room at no extra cost so I just said goodbye to Dad and headed back to the university.

First crisises averted!

The rest of the trip was not without problems but we we had a great time. On Friday and Saturday I showed them all the city. They were amazed at how well I knew everything all ready and I’m told I make a great tour guide ;). Thank you very much! We visited places I had saved such as the Dom and the Alte Synagogue and generally just enjoyed being together as a family.

We did something extra special on Saturday afternoon too. It absolutely poured for most of the day and we were glad to have something different planned to take us out of the rain! We went to the circus. People in the UK have mixed feelings about the circus, but for me it is nothing but exciting. As a child, I used to go with my Dad before my brother was old enough for us all to go together. The circus here is a little different. We don’t have animals at home but this one had lions, tigers and porcupines! We sat together in anticipation, eagerly eating roasted almonds and sweet popcorn and only just resisting the urge to buy a circus animals colouring book.

Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!

The circus was brilliant. Everything about it reminded me of being a child. The silly jokes, the smell, the dramatic music. It was wonderful. The strength of the acrobat was unbelievable. The charisma of the juggler was amazing too. The fearlessness of the lion tamer was scary in itself, those lionesses had some serious teeth going on! Even the clown was funny, with his silly slapstick jokes for the children. The brothers on the horses, backflipping and catching each other while moving. Utterly stunning. Circuses should make you feel the awe of being a child again and this one certainly did. It was one of the best things I’ve done so far on my year abroad and I’m so pleased that the Benson’s got to do it too.

Superwoman.

Acrobatics on horses. Really?!

Not everything was successful about the Benson’s pilgrimage to Erfurt but it was all worth it I think. The German’s are not known for their fantastic service but we got by. My German definitely came in handy though! I found it hard when they left. I had realised just how much I was missing them and how desperate I was to be home. It’s better now though, knowing that they have been here and I know that they are keen to come out here again. I’m certainly keen to see them too.

We had a great time while they were here. We played cards. We played a LOT of cards. It seems the Potters came with the Bensons too (more on that another time!). I enjoyed being a host aswell. I enjoyed inviting them to my flat everyday and offering them seats and making them tea and getting in normal biscuits for them to have. It was fun. I look forward to doing it again sometime and then doing it in a place that is really my own.

They also seemed to love the city and it was nice to see it through new eyes, without the anxieties of living away from home and all the stress that comes with that. Dad and Matthew loved the trams so much that they insisted on us taking a very long way home so we could go all the way round the city. They all loved the beautiful buildings and how well everything is maintained. They loved how friendly the Germans are and how people said hello to them all the time. Dad particularly loved Kraemerbruecke and how you can’t see that it’s a bridge once you’re on it. I really am very lucky to have ended up here. I could have been in so many worse places.

I was left with a rather large pile of presents when they left. I am sure that will make my birthday, and spending it away from my brother, much more exciting. I was so impressed with how people came together. All the family have organised themselves early so that my presents could be brought out with the Bensons. I am so grateful. I already know, before I have even opened any, that I am a very lucky girl indeed!

Goodbye, but only for now!

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6 Comments

  1. I’m glad you had such a lovely time with your family! My parents visited two weeks ago and it was so lovely to see them. Wonderful photos by the way!

    • Thank you! It was certainly lovely to see them and it felt like being home for a few days 🙂

  2. katie

    That’s so fun that your family got to come visit! During my study abroad, I didn’t have that luxury because it was too expensive for them to come from America, and I actually had to spend Christmas away from home on my own. I had made some good friends that took care of me, but it was still not quite the same. Although, sometimes I think it’s harder to have them visit because then you end up missing them so much more when they leave.

    Also, the circus looks amazing!

    • I do have the luxury of going home for Christmas, something I am very grateful for as some of my friends here can’t for the reasons you describe. I don’t plan on going home again though. I think you are right, the more you go home particularly, the harder it is. I expect that Christmas will be the only time that I am home over my year abroad. That is not a financial decision in any way. I can actually get home pretty cheaply. I fear that I wouldn’t keep my sanity if I don’t force myself to stay here though! :).

      PS, the circus WAS amazing 😉

  3. Joanne S

    Hi Emma,
    Thanks for finding my little blog. I am enjoying your blog and I plan to come back to read more. My daughter studied abroad in Andalusia, Spain; staying on to live there for seven years. Our family visited often from America. Enjoy and experience it all! Love the ‘bucket list’.
    –Joanne

    • Oh wow, she must have had a great time! I certainly expect to look back on some very fond memories of my time away. 🙂

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