Heidelberg: yellow submarines, bear necessities, and learning to laugh

Week three already – I can’t believe it!

The complex themes we are discussing in class challenge me more each day – in just three hours each day we seem to cover so much ground, from international perspectives of current world news to philosophical themes behind literary pieces, to re-learning grammar topics that never really sunk in at home. So I am pushing myself to step out of my comfort zone.

Of course, that is one of the great things about being able to do a year abroad – exposing yourself to new experiences and challenges – but this week has been the most overwhelming and tiring, without a doubt. After the constant concentration, planning ahead, and not always finding quiet time each day to rest (as great a socialising is), it’s not surprising that my emotions go a bit all over the place some days.

I probably will always be the person who takes ten minutes to turn their key in the lock, or the one who leaves their plate of food on the weighing scales. But people are still very patient and lovely (and the staff probably get a chuckle which makes it worthwhile). My ability to laugh along when things don’t always go to plan is improving by the day.

I am still going to the singing workshop twice a week, and enjoy the contrast after a long day of studying. This week at choir we sung a familiar song from the Jungle Book, some of you might know it too? Just for some fun, here’s the Youtube video of the German version, in case anyone is in the mood for some procrastinating:

On the subject of music, I also went to a pop concert with my classmates, which took place in a venue you probably wouldn’t expect. The screechy sounds of the pop (rock, metal, screamo!?) band didn’t harmonise with the neo renaissance University’s impressive neo-renaissance (1886) hall, “Alte Aula” [below].20160811_192814

The band were trying to be international with their banterous narrative in English, however I did find it a shame that most of the songs they played were in English: The Rolling Stones, Queen, The Beetles! Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more bizarre, the band made us, the audience, sing along with them. It wasn’t really singing. We had to repeat “bum, bum, bum” in unison for about ten minutes while the lead singer screamed the lyrics to the Yellow Submarines by the Beetles over the top. I probably won’t be purchasing their CD, but the evening was fun nevertheless.

Like many of the evenings here at the Summer School, the concert finished pretty late. As I said in my first post in Heidelberg, I am living some distance from the city centre, and it has taken some time to get used to the public transport system! The buses and trams are usually full in the evenings, so there are no free seats. I have literally gone flying down the aisle more than once (sure many of you can relate to balance problems)!

Where possible I recommend travelling with friends, trying to let people at home know where you are, and keeping aware of your surroundings. Though I know that is easier said than done when you’re about to fall asleep.

On that note – Gute Nacht (goodnight),

misspraxic

 

 

 

 

Misspraxic abroad: emotions and preparations

Guten Abend! As promised, I am updating you all on what I have been doing to prepare for my upcoming travels abroad (a compulsory part of my Modern Languages degree).

Since I last posted, I have spent time with friends and family before saying a temporary goodbye. In just a few days I will be flying to Frankfurt Airport, and making my way to Heidelberg. Where’s that? It’s here:

4944-heidelberg-locator-map

I’m very fortunate to be taking part in a month-long summer school! I hope the intensive grammar classes are going to improve my confidence and fluency in German.

On the one hand, I feel very positive about what is coming: independence, new places, people, experiences… I am excited to return to Germany, to hear my favourite language spoken again. There will be the opportunity for trips to local tourist attractions and destinations further afield at the weekends, which should be a great break from the studying!

In the lengthy build-up to going abroad, however (and I know I’m not alone in feeling like this), the past few months and weeks have been filled with moments of unease and apprehension. Particularly in light of recent and tragic world events, my angst about spending the year out of my comfort zone has been understandably exasperated.

The administrative aspects of organising a year abroad also represent a challenge for any student, not least a dyspraxic student. For those with slower eye-tracking and visual processing, all the form-filling, signature-signing, and document-scanning required for my placements can be overwhelming.

If you don’t believe me, here’s a photo to prove the pickle I was in today with all my paperwork:

paperwork

But the good news is that it’s manageable and well worth the effort – if I can do it, of course other dyspraxic students can too!

My advice?

1. Seek support from your university. Make use of any contacts you might have. Can your study skills tutor help you put together placement applications, or help keep track of important dates?

2. Start planning early. It sounds easy, but when you’re in December, June can feel a year away. By applying early (and securing back-up options in case plans fall through last minute) you can help to ease the uncertainty involved.

3. Make a checklist – and cross tasks off as you go. (e.g. travel booked? Insurance? Finance? Erasmus+ grant?

I’m going back to the packing and paperwork, and will check in again once I have settled into Heidelberg.

Wish me Gl├╝ck!

misspraxic