Lessons learned this year

I can’t believe it is now almost exactly eleven months since I set foot in this country. Since being here, Mein Kampf has been republished for the first time in decades, the refugee crisis has become a refugee embrace (in the case of Stuttgart, I have seen so much solidarity and action on the part of so many different institutions and individuals it would be hard to put it into words), Helmut Schmidt has died, and many a worldwide crisis has reached my corner of Stuttgart-Ost, from heartbreaking terrorist attacks to Brexit.

What have I learned? Continue reading

A “moveable (and disorientating) feast” – a chronicle on la Ville Lumière

Paris, Paris, Paris. Dates that sat in my head for months on end after a hasty Airfrance booking made at the end of October, calendars with dates being ticked off, conversations, Facetimes, Messenger calls had with a long-suffering David (I say conversations: best to define them as panicked rants)  Continue reading

The lone (content) extrovert:

I can clearly see for the first time in my adult life how days, once the right season comes around, really do get shorter. Leaving my office at 6pm and not being overcome by pitch black darkness, mingled with the Bratwurst smells from round the corner, where the Metzger is, is a surprising yet obvious consequence of the aforementioned. It’s hard to believe that I am approaching the 6 month mark of my year abroad. Continue reading

On the Myth of Fluency – the difficulties of language learning, by Ella Harold


I’ll start with an anecdote.

I was twelve years old the first time I went skiing. Skiing was something I’d heard of, and, once my name had been pulled out of the hat to determine who got a space on the school trip, it was something I’d thought about, dreamt about, even, without really having very much idea at all of what it really was. My excited expectations were built entirely on pre-conceived ideas; on glossy brochures and friends’ photos and movie scenes. My daydreams were filled with blue skies and white snow; saloppetes and ski boots. I knew it was something I wanted to do. It didn’t occur to me that there might be more to it than that.

Our first day at ski school started at the foot of the main lift, that would take us from the small Austrian village, nestled in a valley of towering white, to “the slopes”…

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21 questions {before I hit 21}

  1. Home is…?  I couldn’t really answer entirely and only in relation to my year abroad to this question! Home is Oxford, St Hilda’s College; home is Florence, in Italy, and my huge bed which I miss more than any other part of the house,  home is my old house down South in Puglia, where I grew up, and Cozze, the place I was a toddler and I loved to put logs in the fire, home is the houses in London where my cousins and I played as kids… and home is also, now, in some way, my postcard-covered little bedroom in Stuttgart-Ost, with its missing wooden panel in a corner and piles of books. Continue reading

Gyms, journeys and a Christmas miracle

It’s staggering to think that the first week of December has already come and gone. November came and disappeared in a flurry of confusion, tiredness, and counting down the days to leave for the two day panacea I had planned on the third day I was in Germany.

November was a tricky month to be me, hence perhaps there being such a long break between this post and my last tragicomical update.  Continue reading

The despair of Geschlechtsverkehr

It’s been about ten days since I started my office job, and it’s been tough. The constant rushing around trying to memorize fifty different faces on my first day, avoiding strange looks in the canteen for unconventional food choices (in their German eyes, anyway – I find the idea of drenching my salad in walnut sauce  and chunks of ham vaguely vomit-inducing), and above all the struggle with my German computer have been really quite stressful. Continue reading

Jitters revisited

Liebe Frau Bax,
Ihre Unterlagen und unser Telefonat haben uns von Ihnen und Ihren Qualitäten überzeugt.
Ich freue mich, Ihnen daher heute mitteilen zu können, dass wir Ihnen gerne die Praktikumsstelle anbieten möchten.
Bitte geben Sie mir doch kurz Rückmeldung, ob Sie weiterhin Interesse haben und das Praktikum bei uns antreten möchten.
Vielen Dank!

It’s really happening. My year abroad starts (somehow) today…  Continue reading