Friday, April 04, 2014

That time we went to the German coast and I learnt the names of the 16 German states

I did not realise how much I'd been missing the beach and the sea until we went to the zoo in February and there was a wave machine in one of the enclosures. Then I heard the sound, and realised just how used to that sound I am (despite living nowhere near the beach), and how much it reminds me of home.

Anyway, going to the Ostsee (Baltic Sea) was already on our Winter List of Things To Do, and a few weekends ago we went away for four glorious days of BEACH. I mean, it is winter, so it wasn't really a beach holiday, but there was beach involved.
That small X is where we were. It took about 3 hours to drive from Berlin (plus a lunch break).
We drove up on Friday and I was surprised (though I'm not sure why) that the beach looked the same as any other beach...
Mmm that's some nice barrel distortion
On Saturday we walked to Poland (because Europe is tiny, and it was only 3km away) to go to a market on the border. I was still sick so the walking exhausted me quite a bit, so once we got back we just played cards - Raymond taught me a game that turned out to be Warlords & Scumbags, and I taught him the excellent game of Shithead (or Silly Hat). I also taught him the states of Australia in return for him helping me learn the states of Germany that I didn't know (I can totally name them all now, but keep forgetting Hessen.... and it took me a while to learn Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schleswig-Holstein).

The weather was mostly really good for us, especially considering it was WINTER - it was around 10°C during the day most days (if not a couple of degrees warmer), and only rained at night!

However, our Sunday stroll to the next town was pretty awful as we were walking along the beach against the wind. Pretty hard going, but we eventually got to Heringsdorf and had a look around.
All directions that way. Also the train station.
The walk back along the beach was much nicer, feat. GIANT SEAGULLS.

After going for a farewell walk along the jetty in Ahlbeck, we drove to Bansin (two towns along) and spotted a Holiday-making Berlin bear! Then we drove back to Berlin and to real life.

Sewing blues

You may remember that I enjoy sewing. In fact, I like it so much that I have bought sewing machines both times I've moved to Germany, and I even started a sewing blog. Though that is so far a failure because I keep forgetting to update it, so I am not going to share the link yet.

So yeah. I like sewing. Mum and Gran taught me to sew when I was young (starting me on projects like a felt pincushion and a needlebook, both of which I still use), then there were classes at school (where I took on more and more complex projects), and now I sew for pleasure. I also sew because most shops do not stock clothes for tall, pear-shaped girls.

I bought a second-hand sewing machine at the start of November from a nice lady who said she didn't use the machine any more, so was selling it. And it worked just fine for a while. But then it started to not work so well. Now, it is in pieces because I started taking it apart (again) but got so frustrated that I couldn't work out what was wrong that I gave up. R has had a look at it - and after he took it all apart then put it back together it worked, and I was so happy! ...but the next time I went to sew with it... didn't work.

(Basically, I think the tension dial is a bit out of whack, and so the thread keeps breaking. Every. Single. Time. I can get about 10 stitches in, then it decides that it's had enough.)

There is no happy end to this story (yet). I'm hoping that it'll somehow just magically fix itself and I'll be able to finish sewing my crescent skirt. But we'll see, I guess.
This is a dress I finished at the start of 2013. Yellow is my favourite colour :)
UPDATE: I have tried a new needle and thread, and I think it *wanted* to work, but then something happened with the bobbin thread or the shuttle maybe. What a disappointing mystery.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Still in Germany

You may have noticed that I did not return to Adelaide on March 5th. I have decided to stay in Berlin for the forseeable future for a number of personal and professional reasons. Here are some of them:

1. Berlin is pretty great
I really like this city. I chose to come to Berlin partly because I've never lived in a big city. It's very different from Adelaide and Heidelberg, but good different. Plus everyone keeps saying how much more awesome Berlin is in Summer, that I shouldn't have come in Winter, and that I have to see it in Summer. Plus I'm getting to know more and more awesome people in Berlin, so that's also excellent :D
Group photo from my birthday dinner a couple of weeks ago :)
2. Adelaide is great, just not for media professionals
I like Adelaide. I will probably end up there eventually. It is home. My family is there, and some friends too - though most of my close friends have already moved interstate. They've moved interstate because that's where the jobs are. Adelaide is pretty sleepy and Melbourne and Sydney are basically where the media jobs are (generally).

3. I don't have the skills to be a media professional yet
My blog has featured a lot of ranting about the University of Adelaide Media degree, but in case you somehow missed my posts from 2007 - 2012, I will sum up by telling you what the HEAD OF MEDIA told me when I mentioned that I thought there should be practical components to the degree: "this degree teaches you how to learn".

Ok, that's great. But unfortunately for UofA grads, most of the other unis offering media degrees train their students to some degree.

That means that despite my two Bachelors degrees and my Diploma of Languages, it's pretty unlikely I'd get a media-related job - also because I didn't have any opportunity to (or interest in) specialising as some of my friends did. To be fair, I probably could have done more during my degree to learn more, but I was too busy having a well-rounded university experience with friends and GAMES and the AUGC)

Too many parchments? Perhaps...
4. Despite having now completed a five-month internship in Berlin, I still don't have the skills
I moved here to do an Online Marketing & Social Media internship. Unfortunately, because they didn't really know what I should be doing, and because one supervisor was in Chile, and the other in Berlin but only came into the office about three times, I feel like I didn't learn that much, and that my time was wasted a bit. Especially in the last month of my internship, where I spent three weeks straight spamming people on LinkedIn. All day, every day. My account got suspended for it.

5. Being a big city, there are more opportunities in Berlin
There is a huge start-up scene here. And just generally a lot of opportunites. Obviously there would be more if I could speak fluent German (I'm passively working on it...), but being a native English speaker is also pretty great.

I'm now doing a marketing internship with a company called XYO, which, two weeks in, is already so much better than my other internship. Everyone actually cares about the product, seems like they want to be at work, the office is so nice and light and right in the middle of Berlin, people talk to each other and seem to care about each other, it's a super international team, and just generally a positive place to be. And as a HUGE added bonus, I think I am actually going to learn things here. And the positive environment makes me want to learn.

Gendarmenmarkt. This is across the road from where I now work.
6. Other
There are of course other factors that I took into consideration when making the decision to stay, but I don't want to write about them on my public blog.

TL;DR - My current plan is to stay in Berlin until my savings run out (that could be months or years), then I will return home, hopefully with the skills required to get a job.

Spring in the Britzer Garten

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How to apply for jobs like a German

Step 1: make sure your resume (Lebenslauf) is only one page long (mine is still 1.5 pages long. too much education. too many jobs.) Somehow manage to do this despite needing to have your marital status, birthplace, nationality, primary school, and a photo on it, but don't put any details about what you did at any job except a job title

Step 2: attach scans of your degrees/certificates/etc. If you do not have these to hand, get your mother (who is still in Australia) to take photos of them for you

Step 3: create a table like this:
Because otherwise how would you have a reference of what you've applied for?! (this is a good idea, I just think it's hilarious and so German).

I don't know Step 4 yet, but I'll keep you posted ;)

An interesting fact: you don't have referees in Germany, you get a written reference from employers O.o which you then have to attach to your application O.o

Monday, January 27, 2014


Disney's latest film, Frozen, is fantastic. I saw it for the first time in German (Die Eiskönigin - völlig unverfroren), and on Saturday I finally saw it in English. To be honest, when I saw it for the first time, I didn't love it. I thought it was good, but felt like it was missing something. But after a month of gifs and videos on Tumblr, and now having seen it in English, I think it's really great.

Not only is the music fantastic (I saw it for the first time on 14th December and am still listening to the music over a month later), the script full of hilarious and thought-provoking moments, but Elsa, one of the main characters, is demonstrably depressed and anxious.

Elsa is a Disney princess. She might not be the main character, she might not actually have *that* much screen time, but she's a very important character. The film is driven by her decisions, which are largely a result of the difficulties she faces with having been born with ice magic (not the ice cream topping).

She pushes away everyone who cares about her, including her parents and sister. She runs away to the mountains so that she can't hurt anyone else. She is so distraught at the thought of having to go back that she lashes out at everyone who tries to come to convince her to come back - including her sister. She shoots icicles at people to keep them from hurting her, to keep them from getting too close. She ice-shoots them because she's so scared of them getting close and getting hurt. She lashes out unintentionally, does things that she doesn't want to do, just to keep the people she cares about at a "safe" distance.

And that all really resonates with me. Those are things I do (or have done - I think/hope I'm getting better). Obviously I haven't shot ice at people, but I certainly push people away because I don't want to hurt them more.

Also, I really, really love that they point out the incredible flaw in marrying someone you only just met. For years, Disney films have really gone along the "meet a prince, fall in love (that day), get married (that day)" line (Cinderella, Ariel, Aurora, Snow White...), and I'm pretty sure that's damaged a lot of little girls' perceptions of the world. Or at least given them unrealistic expectations of life and love. I know it sure didn't help with my unrealistic life expectations.

But while riding in the sleigh with Kristoff, Anna mentions that she only met Hans (to whom she's now engaged) that day, and Kristoff flipped out. Anna quickly brushed past it which I think also indicates she knows in the back of her mind that he does have a good point that that is crazy. But you know what? Thank you, Disney, for making everyone except Anna see that getting engaged that day is a really dumb idea. Thanks for pointing it out repeatedly. Let's hope it helps all those little girls out there stop having entirely unrealistic expectations.

So anyway, go and see Frozen please. It's pretty great.

PS - Yesterday I celebrated my fourth Australia Day in five years in Europe, this time with a little party at my place with delicious Australian snacks and lots of English/German/Denglisch. I posted about my 2012 experience, which was pretty excellent, but this year was also fantastic :D AND somehow all the Vegemite sandwiches got eaten (at a party of almost exclusively Germans)!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

I was just having a look at my statistics...


I mean maybe they didn't mean me but still.

New Year's Eve in Germany

The last time I was in Germany for New Year's Eve, I was in Heidelberg (unsurprisingly). I'd returned home that afternoon from my Christmas host family via Frankfurt airport to pick up John who was incredibly tired and delirious. We arrive to Heidelberg around 3 or 4pm to find all the shops already shut, so we couldn't buy any fireworks. Nevertheless, we headed down to the banks of the Neckar and watched everyone else set off fireworks around us, and it was an amazing experience.

Theodor-Heuss Brücke, Heidelberg
This NYE beat it by miles. TWO Adelaide friends (Caitlin and Cathryn) were in Berlin, and along with two German friends (Raymond and Kevin), we had some drinks at mine (and taught the Germans 'I never' with hilarious results. Language barrier, need I say more). We drank Sekt and Wodka and one of the guys drank some peppermint liqueur. Once we were sufficiently buzzed, we took the huge amount of fireworks that we'd purchased downstairs and set them off.

This wasn't even all the fireworks we had.
That's right. I set off fireworks.

It was basically everything that teenage me had been dreaming of since all those fun sparkler bomb times (though looking at google images of sparkler bombs... ours were really, really tame, thankfully). And there were so many different sorts!! The guys were in charge of the provision of fireworks and boy did they come through.

We had ones that just looked like sticks of dynamite that just sort of made a bang and a flash, some super loud illegal Polish ones, ones that are designed for "Kinder" (but actually you have to be over 12 to buy them) - they were super fun, some of them changed colours, or had sparks fly out of the end (not sparklers obvs, though they were there too), one sort spun on the ground, some you put on the ground and they shot sparks into the air.... and we also had rockets. They were the most fun.

But oh man was there a lot of mess left!
 Normally you put the rockets into a bottle and light them from there. We held them in our hands and lit them, with the instruction "when you feel that they want to go, let them go". Wise words (and actually easy to follow). And so much more fun! At one point some randoms came around the corner (I live on quite a back street) and just randomly used our bottle to set off their rocket. Because it's Silvester, and why not?!

So after quite a while (and a LOT of firework fun), we headed back upstairs, had a bit more to drink, had a quick skype with Australia, then headed out to the Siegessäule, where one of the big boulevards in the city is blocked off (between that and the Brandenburg Gate). Last year there were 1.5 million people there.

We got there around 11 (I think, I really don't know) but the gates were already shut because it was full. So we walked down the path nearby where there was a fence, and tried to devise a plan to get through. Luckily, some people near us managed to break some of the fence down and so about thirty people ran through the wall (in Berlin. whoa man.). We ended up near a stage where we (kinda) saw the fireworks (there were trees in the way) and all were very confused about whether it was midnight yet or not. But 2013 left, and 2014 arrived, and there was much hugging and shouting and dancing in the streets.

Happy new year!
We danced for a couple of hours and talked and tried to not get hit in the head by people scrambling for free tshirts (I was not lucky and did in fact get whacked in the head... though not as badly as in that Billy Talent mosh), then once we were all sufficiently cold and tired we walked for ages to find a S/U-bahn station and parted ways.

See those lights in the distance, just to the right of the speaker on the stage? That's the Brandenburg gate. There were people all the way to there. Crazy, right?!
SUCH a fun night, and although I'm sad about fireworks being illegal in Australia, it made it so much more fun - the three of us were like children at Christmas... just SO delighted with everything :D

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas spirit

Merry Christmas! Frohe Weihnachten!

I've wanted to blog about this for a couple of weeks... there's a reason I didn't, which I will come to later.

On December 14th, I went with a group of 13 others to a Christmas market, to sing Christmas carols in a busking kind of way to raise money for the Berliner Kältehilfe - an organisation that gives money to/organises things like soup kitchens and emergency accommodation for homeless people over Winter because freezing to death is actually a likely thing in Germany.

We sang a number of Christmas songs, both German and English, mostly traditional ones. We rehearsed four times before performing in four-part harmony.

It was a really lovely experience: everyone was so happy when we were singing, especially the older people. Some people cried, including a girl our age. I guess Christmas brings up a lot of feels for everyone.

One Oma (Grandma) took a photo of us, and sent it through that night, saying: "it gave me so much joy to listen to you, and I felt happy about Christmas for the first time this year". Apparently when we sang Stille Nacht (Silent Night), a lot of people closed their eyes and smiled. When someone talked during our singing, others shushed them.

Here's a video of us:

We finally found out how much money we raised yesterday (which is why I didn't post about it yet): 529.91!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm so proud of us and that we raised so much money and that we made so many people happy. It was a really, really lovely feeling to look out at the people watching us and see just how joyful they were.

Christmas is wonderful :)

Monday, December 09, 2013

Steh auf, es wird schon irgendwie weitergehn.

I know I've posted this video before, but I was listening to this song yesterday, going from Bern to Zuerich on the train, looking at the beautiful Swiss scenery in the sunshine, and I felt hopeful.

Egal wie dunkel die Wolken ueber dir sind / sie werden irgendwann vorueberziehen. JA GENAU, sie WERDEN. Ich werde durchhalten, auch wenn ich allein bin. Danke, Toten Hosen.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Friends pre-social media

My job title is "social media and online marketing intern". When I was finishing school, that would not have even been a thing.

Meeting people really used to be different. Earlier tonight, I was remembering one time early in first year uni (2007). Long-time readers of this blog would know that in my first couple of years of uni I spent a lot of time at the Unibar, and made some really, really great friends there (Unibar Crew 4eva!)

That was a fun weekend. This photo is stuck on my wall :)
I distinctly remember one night getting on a bus with my best friend, and saying to her 'you know, I don't think I know anyone's last name'. We then went through the friends we'd made and tried to remember their surnames - and we didn't even get them all.

These days, that wouldn't happen. When you make friends with someone, you add them on Facebook, and unless they're German or applying for jobs, they most likely have their full name on there. They also have their workplace, where they went to uni, photos from that holiday to Bali: all of which you can have a look at, then try to act like you don't already know that they work at xyz, or that they grew up in A but went to uni in B.

Fringe opening night 2008. We shared a bottle of duty-free vodka and pretended to be buildings. These were the first photos I uploaded to Facebook.
Herbie's birthday 2009. Happy birthday my dear!
A friend of mine recently told me that he hadn't looked up a girl online because he didn't want to make things weird when he made a move. And that was shocking. To not have looked someone up?! Not even a bit of Facebook stalking, a quick look at their Twitter feed, and a sneaky peek at their Instagram account?
Actually, I kind of miss that. That you had to talk to people to find out stuff about them, that you couldn't just scroll through your feed to find out about what your friends are up to. I think it led to very genuine friendships - not that the friendships I've made since Facebook took over the world aren't genuine - far from it. But it took more to become and stay friends - not just a quick search and a click.

Carrickalinga Beach Friends ;)
Don't get me wrong; I clearly love social media and would find it a lot harder to be overseas without it. But I think it's made us lose something.

German Club graduating friends 2013: I met Rick when talking on MSN was still cool.
I'm very grateful for social media. It makes keeping in touch with everyone much easier, especially as I'm overseas. I'm blessed to basically have a 24-hour support network of people in different time zones to help me out and chat. I am blessed with wonderful friends. Thank you all for being there and for all the wonderful memories we've made over the years. And here's to all the memories and new friends to come!