Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Ice creams and elderly bicycles

Aside from my previous blog entry which largely consisted of me whinging because I couldn't afford to buy beer and bratwurst, I haven't updated you on my new life in Erlangen, a small town in northern Bavaria. Possibly one of the reasons why I haven't yet written anything about my German exploits is that this country doesn't feel terribly foreign: apart from the obvious language differences and presence of dirndls on the hangers in C&A, it feels very much like home, especially when compared to Beijing.


However, that doesn't mean that life here has been boring- there are (contrary to my fears before arriving) a large number of Erasmus students from around the world and the social life here is incredibly active. Unfortunately mine and my friend Kim's halls seem to be a long way from anywhere, especially where parties and the like are concerned, and so the best option to counter this was to somehow acquire a bike. I didn't really fancy spending too much on a bike and so when I saw a notice in the corridor advertising one for 60€ I enquired straight away. An hour later I was the proud owner of a pink and purple ladies' bike, complete with wonky saddle, one brake and a dodgy chain. Whilst riding it into town for the first time the other day I grappled with mixed feelings of regret at having bought such a death trap and the whimsical notion of 'oh well, at least it's got character'. Updates regarding my hospitalisation post-bicycle collapse are possibly to follow.

Our term doesn't start for another couple of weeks and so far our only contact with the university (the snappily-titled Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg) has been a three-day orientation course which included a session entitled 'cultural training'. We were told of the exacting nature of German people, warned never to annoy them by being late and, strangely, advised of the optimum distance to stand away from someone you don't know well (1.2 to 3.6 metres if anyone's interested).


Luckily the weather has for the most part been absolutely beautiful in Erlangen and, aside from trips to the zoo and various nearby towns, we have spent many an afternoon sunbathing in the town's gardens armed with ice creams and sunglasses. I'm sure the holiday feeling will be dissipated fairly swiftly with the arrival of lectures and studying, but for the meantime life in Germany is beautiful.

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