Prenzlauer berg

Saturdays are for sleeping, cleaning, reading, studying and exploring – in no particular order.  I’ve accomplished all of these today and have some photos as a result.  My target location today was Prenzlauer Berg because I needed to visit a Strickwaren shop for some needles. Yesterday night I messed up and had to unravel the Mütze I’m knitting at the moment, and only realised afterwards that I’d left my double pointed needles at home and therefore couldn’t start the damn thing off again.  This morning, I was very proud of myself for locating a shop to replace them in and decided to buy new circular needles as well so that I had the right length cord- the one I was working with was a bit too long.  Having found the shop, chatted with the lady to work out that I wanted 60cm, 5.5 needles, and managed to resist the gorgeous wool that was on offer, I was pretty chuffed.  Then on the S-Bahn home I discovered that my prize was not so golden after all – they’re the perfect length but a size too small.  That’s what you get for not double checking! I guess I’ll be heading back there on Monday if I can find the receipt….

Still, it was a good excursion overall, we found a most excellent food and handmade stuff market with some totally gorgeous stuff and a stall quite fabulously called ‘Lust for Cheese’ and accessorised by a kid in an all in one suit (see photos).  We also wandered through the Kulturbrauerei (cultural brewery, I loves it) and found the Mauerpark, where an old section of the Wall is now used as a testing ground for budding graffiti artists.  I hope the pictures amuse…


Klasse Eins

Today was our last lesson with our first group of students and I’m so sad it’s over. As you know if you’ve talked to me during this past fortnight, it’s not exactly been a pain free experience, but our students were an absolute pleasure to be with and were incredible patient with our wobbly baby steps.

Of course, I had to get a photo of die ganze Klasse:

L-R front row: Ingrid, Ana, Ferdi, Binafsha.
L-R middle row: Tina (trainee), Kerstin, Torsten, Lisa, Motaz, Tatsiana, Stefan.
L-R back row (trainees): Me, Christine, Jude, John

and I have a couple of other little ones:


My apologies that I havent managed to pop anything up for a while, its been a slightly crazy week (and that sentence looked very strange for a while because I’m typing on a German keyboard which not only has ä where the apostrophe should be but it also has y and z reversed which means that manz manz words come out a little crayz.  Zup.)  I’m getting better at using this mad set up but it’s made me realise how much I actually do touch type.

So, some sundries for you kind souls:

Bei S und bei U, Berlin notched up another point  in the great Berlin v. London derby on Sunday, after I took my first Bahn journeys.  Now, I consider myself to be a fully London accredited country mouse: I don’t carry a tube map any more and I have been known to give tourists directions without needing to consult their A-Zs. I am outraged when people don’t stand on the right on escalators and unless I’m on designated mooch-time I move at a brisk trot.  I’ve been known to experience tube rage and I’m baffled when I move outside the purview of  But guess what?  Here I’ve got to help out.  Not only will they plan my journey, they’ll also help me hook up with that boy who caught my eye (not really, LTN!)…..

The  Bahn stations are amazing, with 20 million useful shops open at all kinds of hours, they’re clean and well lit and have nice wide thoroughfares so I’m not tripping anyoneup with my tourist antics as I would be if I were in LondonTown.  Plus, the S –Bahn and U-Bahn run all night at the weekend which quite clearly should be the rule worldwide.  The carriages are big and with more window than wall and in 2 of 2 journeys I saw very cute puppies on board.  Furthermore the buttons for opening the door actually open the door and have fetching red and green lights, instead of being yellow traps for the unwary which give Londoners yet another reason to feel superior. And last but not least, one of my students is a DeutscheBahn train driver and assures us that the trains are never late.  The timetables may be wrong, but the trains are always on time.  So that’s good.

Wongling, curgling and Jabberwocky.  As part of our indoctrination into the secrets of the TESOL guild we’ve been looking at how to teach vocabularly and how to check understanding. To aid this we’ve been taught all kinds of nonsense words which have now entered the lexicon of our flat and may in fact become permanent fixtures in my idialect.  The most favoured nonce word is wongle (verb or noun), it’s been assigned any number of meanings so far from the mildly rude to strangely pornographic  (he wongled a horse, anyone?).  Jake is the main perpertrator of this crime against language, but I’m afraid that it’s catching.  Plus today we had a beauty: she deapled him quistly.  Any guesses?
p.s. think you can’t translate Lewis Carrol? Jabberwocky in other words…

Marielle kindly pointed me toward the exciting looking Badeschiff an Spree  but it’s closed!  Dammit, I want to go and play with the beautiful people.

But there is other fun to be had.  We’re staying just down the road from Museuminsel, an island covered in beautiful buildings full of interesting things.  So far I haven’t visited, sorry Dunc, but luckily there’s a Lange Nacht der Museen planned to sort that out  by giving us from 6pm to 2am to get round them all.

Amazingly, I’ve managed 2 whole weeks without once reverting to sitting cross legged when I should be sitting like a grown up. I’m so proud of myself!

And finally some comparisons of the Berliner (not the donut) v the Londoner – in my perception and theirs:
Everyone makes eye contact here, but it’s rare to win a smile, even when I bust out my best effort.  In London it’s a bit different, catching someone’s eye is tough but once you do you can usually tease out a smile. It’s the smile game.  Also I’m told that when using a lift the etiquette is to say good morning and goodbye as you get in and out.  Can you imagine that being the rule in England?  Gosh no.   It’s because German’s are friendlier on the whole – so they say, and have lovely conventions like always taking flowers or wine as a visiting gift, saying güten Appetit before meals and always taking your shoes off when you enter someone’s home.  And do you know why we don’t have an equivalent for güten Appetit in English?  Well, I’m reliably informed it’s because the food is awful.  Speaking as someone who had cereal for tea, I’m not sure I’m in a position to disagree.

That’s all folks, I’ve written a ream and it’s nearly time for bed. I’ve leave you with one last picture of the Schulwohnug and Studente hard at work.  Good night and sweet dreams.

Take a walk

Yesterday, one of my teachers told me to take a walk. Or go skating. Or dancing. Exercise anyway. Today was Saturday and there was sunshine, as you can see. Most of these are pics from along the way, but you can also see the view from my bedroom window and Jake conked out on the sofa at the end of the long week. Jules has also been asleep on the sofa but I woke her up before I managed to get a photo. Wish I had these napping skills…. You’ll also see one photo I took leaning out of the window, in shock at the number of people in the protest march that was streaming along our road and onto Friedrichstrasse. It was very green: if you’re interested…

Also for your listening pleasure, I’ve been enjoying mixtapes provided by CHROMEMUSIC today, excellent study aids since I really haven’t got my own music sorted out at the moment.  I particularly enjoyed the Kreutzberg, reggae and sweet seranade mixes.  Cheers little cuz for introducing me to this site.  Now I’m in Berlin I’ll have to try and find it live…

p.s. I should have mentioned, the sketch is by Jake Stotler.  He needed to draw, I needed to read, it seemed to work out fine.


So here and now endeth my first week in Berlin, city where jeden tag ist etwas los (everyday there’s something going on), as was I told by the 6 ft 4 ish man squeezed into the seat next to me on the plane.  I have to confess I haven’t seen much of the etwas, I’ve mostly seen the streets between ‘my’ flat and the language school. But today, today is a red letter day. Today brought my first Berlin Schneefall.  I had hoped that tomorrow I might wake and see a white city but it seems to be merely flirting with me, so probably not. Schade.

In the meantime, a night off from studying is a pleasure indeed. We scaled the dizzy heights of relaxation tonight with overly sweet Riesling, pizza and ice cream.  Actually we haven’t eaten the ice cream yet but the promise in the freezer is a treasure beyond price.  This was really our first proper flat social, Julia had a friend over and we all rambled inconsequentially and shared stupid comedy throught the medium of you tube.

As a result, here is a Tim Minchin beat poem suggested by Ellie for the random ranters amongst us (Li, I think you’ll like it, reminds me a little of watching Simon Armitage or those guys at the gallery in Shoreditch – what were their names?):

and so, Ich wünsche dir ein schönes Wochenende und süße Träume, bis bald. I’m not sure how it got to be 1.42am, I was supposed to be asleep 2 hours ago but now my lie in has been negated by my sit up and type nonsense. Ah well, another lesson learnt…

Losing all the words

Where have all the words gone?  Yesterday I had them, this morning I had them, but late this afternoon they all flew away.  Strangely enough this seems to have slightly improved my German comprehension skills – after half a week of barely producing any German at all I managed a halfway sensible chat auf Deutsch tonight with my lovely aunt Irmgard.  Still, as I see it, in another language it’s permissible to not know all the words, but now I’m in danger of losing my status as Chief Word Herder and it’s just too painful to contemplate.

Maybe it’s because I had a lexis lesson today.  To most of us, that just means words and phrases, but I think linguists read a little more into it.  Anyway, I had to teach students some language to talk about money. Well obviously it’s a subject close to my heart, or at least uppermost in my mind now that I’m not earning anything (earn: to receive money in return for work done.  If I play who wants to be a millionaire and win £1,000,000 did I earn that money?  No, because it was not in return for work, I was just lucky/clever/it was rigged anyway).  I had a plan, it seemed like a good plan, but it really didn’t work out that well. Now I have to evaluate myself and my performance and I cannot make the words behave.  which means that I’ve fled here, to tell you all about it.

Solution?  Kaffee und kuchen.  Berliner Apfelkuchen to be precise, a pudding so crammed with chunks of apple that I can almost pretend it’s healthy.  I shall make it so.  Also, bis später, meine Freunde, ciao.

Sunshine on a cloudy day

I have a lesson plan to write tonight so I’m going to just share things that made me smile very quickly while the pasta cooks:

  • a student in my class had a bright yellow coat.  She smiled for the first time in 120 mins (and no, it wasn’t a lesson I was teaching) when I told her that she had provided the sunshine to cheer up this rainy day – yeah, I’m building rapport
  • the word for squirrel in German is Eichhörnchen, a little acorn person (something like that).  We learnt that by watching cartoons, the only programmes where they speak slow enough for us to understand. The shame….
  • Jake, my flatmate, is teaching me to say ‘oh m’gosh’ and ‘hold on there, missy’, Texan style.  Love it.  I’ve also learnt to ask for beer and vodka in Polish, all useful language skills, I’m sure
  • I managed to buy stamps to send cards to England, all in German, in the first shop I tried
  • there’s a fish’n’chips shop in the train station that is open at 8.30 in the morning
  • they have Clarks here!