Nath’s Year Abroad in Numbers

After the initial excitement of returning home subsides I have decided to sign off from my Year Abroad blog with a quick look at the numbers that made my Year Abroad. And for those of you who feel there will be a Tumnus-sized hole in the Blogosphere worry not! Ive enjoyed the experience of blogging so much that I have decided to take it up on a permanent basis. Please head over to thetumnustrail.wordpress.com to see the results!

Ok, so here it is. My last post:

20 – number of reviews and reports I’ve written for The Good Review and The Munich Eye

4 – number of Bierfests visited (Oktoberfest, Starkbierfest & Frühlingsfest x 2)


34 -different nationalities of friends that I have made

5 – the appallingly low number of cities visited (Munich, Stuttgart, Verona, Berlin, London)

240 – The fastest speed I travelled in a car in km/h on the way to Berlin

6 – longest number of consecutive days I managed without alcohol

6,020 – total number of blog views as of yesterday

– number of people I’ve woken up next to in ski wear

0.25 – goals per game ratio for Munich Irish Rovers

36 – longest number of hours going commando

11 – number of gigs watched

19 – number of photos Marcus & I photoshopped under the pseudonym of @GermSocAnimalsbois

993 – approximate total distance in km cycled to and from work

455 – amount in Euros I paid for my flat in the centre of town.

– number of important items lost or temporarily misplaced (keys, phone, wallet, camera, keys, ipod, keys, camera, keys)

39 countries that have viewed my blog since the move to WordPressblog

0– number of things I would change if I were to do it all over again.

And that’s it! My Year Abroad is now officially over! I want to thank everyone I’ve met along the way for making it so special and a big thanks to everyone who could be bother to read my blog over the past few months. I couldn’t have done this without you. I may no longer be in Germany but in life, your paths always cross twice. Ich freue mich darauf!

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10 things I hate about Mu

As many of us know, moving to a foreign country is not always plain sailing. Here’s a rundown of the things that annoyed me the most!

10. German Radio

This was admittedly a somewhat love/hate relationship. Munich’s very own hit radio station Charivari was a main culprit as they would play an infuriating selection of music, skipping from Bavarian big band music, to the latest chart sensation, to ‘Every Breath You Take’ all in the space of a Friday night party-mix. When my parents were last here we took a short trip over to Königsee on the Austrian border. As we were driving we had the pleasure of the radio to accompany us. Despite our vain hopes of finding a decent song through channel skipping it was to no avail and I blame the radio in no small part for me nearly crashing.

9. Football Diving

Football on the continent has always been awash with diving, but what you don’t expect is that it filters down into the Sunday leagues. The best bit about football has to be the running out onto the pitch and waving at the non-existent fans, just like they do on the TV. Unfortunately the same goes for diving and, although infuriating, it is hilarious to see a fully grown man holding his face like he’s been shot with a rifle.

8. The Weather

And they say the weather in England is bad? After the longest winter Germany has seen in many years I expected the weather to completely skip over Spring and head straight to Summer. Oh no. Despite a week of maintained nice weather at the start of May, things took a turn for the worse and it’s been raining almost constantly since. The reason I didn’t head home directly after my internship was that I expected the weather to be lush and that I’d be able to spend my days topping up the tan in the englischer Garten. We had a couple of nice days but it was mostly just this:

7. Everything being shut on Sundays

After a hard week’s work the last thing you want to be doing is going food shopping. Unfortunately, the Germans craaaazy system means that absolutely everything is closed on a Sunday except for Museums and Restaurants. This means that if you want to get anything productive done over the weekend you’ve got to plan it well. No more slobbing around in bed all Saturday and sorting your shit out on Sunday, these things have to be done on time!

6. Gig ticket tax

Well this one is just silly. Due to some ridiculous tax rules (I’ll be able to explain this better next year as I’ll be studying Tax!) artists who come over to play in Germany are forced to bump up their prices in order to actually make any money at all. This led to Ghostpoet’s Munich gig costing me 18€ which is somewhat higher than the 8 quid charged in Leeds on the same tour. Admittedly I’ve not missed too many gigs because of the prices as in the end I’ve just had to suck it up and pay, but at the same time yeah, annoying.

5. Tutting

Although also a relatively English trait I have seen it countless times since I’ve been in Germany. The tut is infuriating. The person tutting isn’t bothered enough to tell you that you’ve inconvenienced them, but they’re also miffed enough that they felt the need to bring your attention to it. The most recent occurrence of this was in a Thai restaurant one lunch time. Kai, a colleague of mine, and I were helping ourselves to the buffet cart in an almost empty restaurant. We’d specifically asked the waitress for some tasty starters so began to take the majority of the portion, unaware that anybody else was using the buffet. It was only once I’d heard the horrible tut that I knew something was wrong. I would have shared with him if he’d have asked. He didn’t, so he went hungry. Soz mate.

4. MarekSnapshot_20120927_1

Any man who single-handedly tries to ruin a young student in a new country’s Year Abroad deserves a place on this list and Marek was MORE than worthy. To the very last minute the man tried to annoy me. Even when he came to give me my deposit back (a full month after I’d moved out) he felt it necessary to take 200€ of it for himself. The reason? I’d left blu-tac marks on the wall. If there’s anything not worth a 200€ fine it’s this.

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My safely returned ‘wallet’

3. German Police system

The fact that it took a full 56 days for me to receive my wallet back despite knowing that the police had found it told its story. The fact that nobody actually seemed to know where I need to go to get it back also didn’t help, as I ended up running around like a headless chicken going from one authoritative building to another. AND THE PAPERWORK, good God. It seemed that even if you just wanted to go out for dinner you had to sign a form.

2. I’m not there

It’s a little harsh that one of the main reasons I hate Munich is something completely out of its hands. Don’t worry Munich it’s not you, it’s me. Since I started out here all that time ago back in Munich pretty much every aspect of my life has changed, except for the fact that my hair is receding at an alarming rate – some things will never change. From my confidence levels to my outlook on life via my appearance, everything has changed. It’s going to be interesting seeing how this new Nath fits in with the old lifestyle at home.

 

1. Being called “Nah-tan”

Ok, so it’s understandable that a language without the “th” sound would struggle to grasp the name Nathan Thorpe but that doesn’t mean it was any easier to accept! Variations included “Nay-san” and “Naat” amongst others. And the moment people clocked I wasn’t a huge fan of it, its usage obviously sky-rocketed (I’m looking at you, Helena and Thomas). If I do ever plan on moving back to Germany (looking likely) then I think I’ll more than likely need to change.


Reading back through this post it looks awfully negative. But let me just say that this piece is supposed to be taken in jest! These are all just the little oddities that make living in a foreign country so fascinating and my experience would not have been the same if anything was different. Germany, you’re may be odd, but I LOVE YOU.

…And on the seventh Day God created Dirndls

It’s often hard to admit to yourself when something is coming to an end but whether I like it or not I will not find myself waking up in Munich tomorrow. There are so many aspects of my life here which I’m going to miss with my entire being: the friends, the language, the city – but these are all the things I’d be expected to miss. As a retrospective look back at my Year Abroad. I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 not so obvious aspects of Munich life that I’m going to miss. And it goes a little something like this…

10. German Keyboard

The german keyboard is almost identical to your standard keyboard with one major difference; the Z and Y have swapped places. Add to this the addition of the ä, ö and ü and you’re on to a real winner. The number of times I have been tzping on my computer and ended up with a Z when I needed a Y is testament to this behemoth of the keyboard world.

9. Being a Foreigner

Before I came to Munich I wouldn’t have considered myself to have lived too sheltered a lifestyle. However, it gives you a totally new perspective on life and your own lifestyle to live in a foreign city and you come to appreciate how hard it must be for people who move to a country that isn’t as accepting as Germany. That said, I was met in a less than friendly manner on two occasions with Greggers and I told to ‘go back to your own country and stop destroying our culture’. Naturally a verbal slinging match ensued and after a while his threats subsided.

8. European kiss-on-the-cheek greeting

This is something so unfathomable for the British (think Hugh Grant in ANY film) but is something that the Europeans take to with absolute ease. Whether your meeting someone for the first time or greeting an old friend the greeting is the same – a kiss on both cheeks. It’s just so effortlessly friendly and in my eyes removes any of the british awkwardness usually associated with meeting someone for the first time.

7. Flexi-time

Behind #2, this is the best invention of all time. Fancy another hour in bed? Done, just stay a little longer than usual at the end of the day. It really doesn’t matter when you go to work as long as you fit in all 38.5 hours per week into your schedule. This phenomenon has seen me starting work anywhere between 8am-11am and occasionally even finishing as early at 1pm on a Friday! Any future employees reading this, just remember I’m gonna be needing flexi-time.

6. Relaxed attitude to going out

Whenever I think of nights out back home it always fills me with dread. What with Cruise being pretty much the only club even slightly close-by there is naturally always a queue. I remember one time when my friends had to arrive at the club at 9:30pm to even stand a chance of getting in. Even in Leeds, the taxis would almost always need to be booked for around 11pm and there was hardly ever any room for adjustments. Munich, however is far better. Not only do I live within walking distance of all the city centre clubs but they’re just so relaxed. There have been numerous times where pre-drinks have been so much fun that we haven’t even left the house until gone 2am. It helps that the German system involves clubs staying open until around 5am or 6am but all the same, it’s just so much less stressful.

5. Boardgame Nights

It’s safe to say that I have always been a huge believer in Board Games. It was something that I tried introducing at Uni last year as an alternative to watching TV and it didn’t go down particularly well. And these games were your classics – Monopoly, Cluedo – games that only take an hour to play. In little french Thomas I found a kindred board game spirit. His selection of board games was massively impressive and spanned across 4 nations. But it wasn’t the games that made these nights such fun, it was that everyone had a genuine interest in playing the games, even though they often lasted into the early hours of the morning. Admittedly I never manage to win but it’s the taking part that counts right?

4. Being told I speak good German on a daily basis

Imagine having a little friend that complimented or congratulated you for something on a near daily basis – that’s basically what this was. Being English, nobody expects you to be able to speak another language due to our lazy and ignorant stereotype. This leads to surprise on behalf of anyone you end up meeting and they are more than willing to let you know how impressed they are. My finest moments have got to be those where people think I’m German. It’s a hugely satisfying feeling.

3. Beer

Germany (and in particular Bavaria) wouldn’t be Germany without their ability to brew fantastic beers. Whether your tipple of choice is a Helles, Weißbier or Pils the variety of different beers is astonishing and it all tastes so good. Many of my friends who’ve been in Germany have all come to the same conclusion as me – Bitter and Ales are the way forward next year. There’s absolutely no part of me that’s looking forward to a nice refreshing pint of Fosters. It’ll feel like cheating on my frothy bavarian girlfriend. The lack of any German beer in England is ridiculous, with Erdinger being pretty much the only one to have made its way to our country. I’ve done a little research into the topic and found that Tesco stock their very own ‘Bavaria Beer’. Although it’s actually brewed in Holland.

2. Dirndls

Simlar to Babian’s First Theorem, everyone looks better in Dirndls. But it’s also the culture behind Dirndl/Lederhosen wearing that I love so much. Whether young or old, everyone wears Trachten during Beer Festivals and it creates a wonderful atmosphere of acceptance. I’ve become so accustomed to seeing them around town that I don’t even bat an eyelid when I walk past a man in Lederhosen, it just feels normal nowadays! Here are a few pictures of some friends of my to illustrate my point.

1. Multi-Kulti friendship group

By far the most rewarding aspect of my Year Abroad has been the wide variety of different nationalities, cultures and backgrounds that I have met and befriended in my time here. On my last count it was no fewer than 34 different countries and it just ensures that there is always something to talk about. You can’t get bored talking to someone who has lived an entirely different life to the one you live youself. Plus, there’s nothing better than learning a few swear words in another language.

Greece, France, England and Germany combine

In short, a huge thank you to everyone who has made this Year Abroad bloody brilliant. I can’t believe that it’s already over and I am going to truly, truly miss it. If you’re interested in finding out about the worst 10 things about my Year Abroad, stick around as there will be a new post up this afternoon!

I try to say goodbye and I choke

Elton John once claimed that “Sorry seems to be the hardest word”. It seems the man has never tried saying goodbye. Friday was my last ever day working for Westwing and as such there were many goodbyes that had to be said, to all the people who have helped me and befriended me over the past 9 months. But the goodbyes actually had to start on Wednesday, as Thursday was a Bank Holiday in Bavaria and many people had taken the Friday off in order to enjoy the dire weather Munich has to offer at the moment. This mainly revolved around a final lunch for our little group of interns. Sad times but good food!

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After the Feiertag on Thursday, I made my way to work for my final day and, juxtaposed to the beautiful sunshine on my first day in Autumn, it was pissing it down in Summer. My workload for the day was unbelievably minimal leaving me plenty of time to swan around the office chatting with various people for the last time. It was something I was aware of beforehand, but I’m completely useless at saying goodbye to people. Regardless of the relatively slim chances of our paths ever crossing again, I found myself making up imaginary plans in the future every time I said goodbye to someone, not actually being able to just an actual, final goodbye. How odd. One phrase that kept cropping up was “You always meet someone twice in life”, perhaps showing that I’m not the only person who’s not great at goodbyes.

It’s not yet sunk in that my 9-5 job is over and the weather is so terrible at the moment that it is impossible to make any sort of plans, but as I slowly empty my room into my suitcase, the realisation slowly grows.

The name’s Bond, Trevor Bond.

People very rarely say that friends are like buses. It seems, however, that mine may in fact be similar to the large road-bound public transport vehicles. After Warrick’s visit last weekend I had only 3 days to prepare before the Mountain Dew, Simon arrived late on a Friday night.

Before all that there was the small matter of my Abschiedsparty (leaving party) at Westwing. Despite a lot of last minute drop outs there was a decent turn out as we headed to where it all began back in August, Beach 38. It made a pleasant change that there were a lot of people in the establishment giving it a decent atmosphere but this did come at a cost as we had to wait a full hour for a simple burger and chips.

As Friday finally rolled around I was beginning to feel the strains of working 4 consecutive days in a week – something I’ve not done since the last weekend in April. A fter a relaxed training session and couple of beers with the lads I went to pick young Si up after his later night Mitfahrgelegenheit. 

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Marcus (middle) and his assistant troublemakers

The following morning we rose early to head to Augustinerkeller for 11am as Marcus was celebrating his Birthday and we were desperate to secure a seat in the beer garden for the Champions League Final, the reason why EVERYBODY in Munich was wearing red. The weather was miserable and after 3 hours sat in the rain we decided to up sticks and moved to the site of the Starkbierfest, Paulaner am Nockherberg  where the weather was at very least dry. Marcus’s friends began to flow in, a variety of nationalities all with one common feature – they worked at BMW. It was great to finally put faces to the variety of nicknamed friends who I’d heard so many stories about. As the countdown to the match reached the final few hours those less prepared for the cold, headed home while we began to join in the chants of “BVB hurensöhne!” (translated as “Dortmund are sons of whores”, huge fun)

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It’s safe to say we’d had a few

 

My concentration throughout the match was mainly focused on the atmosphere in the viewing area and also on protecting Marcus, who’d already started trying to pick fights with everyone. Thankfully, Bayern won meaning that the city was rocking. Immediately after the trophy ceremony we headed to the U-Bahn with the aim of getting to Leopoldstrasse, the site of all Bayern München afterparties. How we got there in one piece I don’t know, as the fans on the train seemed set on derailing it with their incessant jumping. Despite the huge crowds there was no real focal point of the celebrations and a lot of people seemed to be standing around waiting for something to happen. Other than the occasional chant or firework it wasn’t quite as glorious as I was expecting and we eventually decided to call time on a very long day – although it seems we may have left too early, as a friend of mine told me that around half an hour later there were two girls stood on an Ambulance with their boobs out. Nightmare.

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Everyone’s favourite Jew, Simon!

Whoever thought it would be a good idea to have a football match at 10:30am the day after the Champions League Final is an absolute moron. Regardless, this would be my last chance to play for the mighty Munich Irish Rovers before I leave the country and I was fully intent on making the most of it. Unfortunately we were playing against Centro Espanol, the Sunday League equivalent of Barcelona so we spent the majority of the match chasing shadows. A fully fit Nath might’ve been able to bag a couple but having tore my hamstring 7 weeks ago I wasn’t quite up to scratch.

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Bond-athon part 2

After bidding Simon a fond farewell there was only one way to truly finish off the weekend, and that was of course a Bond-athon. Both Jon and Bernie seemed very disappointed in me when I told them I hadn’twatched the early Bonds before and they were more than happy to show me the ropes. With red wine in our hands and potato wedges in our bellies we worked our way through Dr No  and From Russia With Love without even breaking a sweat. By the time we got to Goldfinger and Thunderball, however our glasses were empty and we headed to the kitchen to see if Jon had anything appropriate for a Sunday evening. He did not. Jägerbombs and our newly named Pussy Galore (whiskey & red bull) were the order of the day and before we knew it, it was 2:30am. Obviously by this point the trams had stop running so Jon kindly put us up at his.

And this led me into my last week at Westwing. As I sit now, I only have 1 day left of work at my beloved furniture company and it will truly be the first sign that this Year Abroad is coming to an end. It’s amazing to think how much I’ve grown and changed in the past 9 months and despite its ups and downs (looking at you Marek) I have thoroughly enjoyed my time and work has been a large part of that. Let’s just hope there aren’t any tears.

CSI: Munich

“You better watch out, you better not cry
You better not pout, I’m telling you why
Warrick Brown is coming to town”

Or so I was told last week. And before we start no, I do not mean the fictional character in the CBS crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, I do of course mean the lovable, recent post-grad whom I call a friend. It’s safe to say that this trip was much more quickly sorted than our as-of-yet-not-booked foray to South America and after a brief illness which saw me turn a 4 day weekend into a 5 day holiday bonanza I headed to the airport to pick up the man Brown on Saturday evening.

After a quick meet and greet with the rest of the block we quickly headed upstairs to prepare some BBQ food and grab some beers before returning to the group. Once our attempts to cross the language barrier via GCSE level French had failed we settled into English as people were more than happy to practice a skill which until this point I had not yet asked of them. It’s rather weird conversing with someone in a language which you’ve never before used with them and as such it was a real struggle not to switch back into German and I found myself having to make a conscious effort not to do so. Fortunately, beer is a universal language and after we’d sunk a few we headed out on a Barathon which, as the name suggests is a slightly less scummy pub crawl. It was fantastic in the end, as it gave us opportunity to go into all the cool little bars close to where we live. We were able to catch the end of a New Found Land gig in the basement bar of Milla before heading to the wittily named Zum Wolf (‘Zum Wohl’ being the German equivalent of ‘Cheers!’) for shots and beer in classic Bavarian beer mugs.

Then it was time for Warrick and I to add another woman to our ever-expanding list of  people who could be ‘the one’. Heading into the puntastic Beverly Kills we heard some classic house being spun by our sexy Siren. It’s taken me a small amount of google searching to find her, but this woman is in fact Katharina Wyrwich – a Playboy playmate and grade A babe.

the one?

Once we’d finally regained our composure it was time to head to Munich’s worst kebab shop and fuel up. This left Jacques Henri with plenty of time to get chatting with the God squad, who were trying to force free literature on poor drunken souls. In total we got 4 books including a particular favourite entitled ‘Sex and the desire of a lonely heart’. Not just appealing to a German audience, Warrick was able to obtain a DVD which he was promised had English subtitles too. Shortly afterwards we headed home, pondering our lives – the evening had certainly taken an odd turn.

happily buying into the 1860 franchise

happily buying into the 1860 franchise

A somewhat restless night passed and before we knew it it was time to wake and head to the Allianz Arena to see 1860’s 3-0 crushing of Aalen. Warrick took to his role as head photographer/snappy headline writer with ease and by his own admission had ‘captured the raw emotion of Football’ – not bad considering our fragile state. The first half an hour passed with little incident and I feared that 1860 were going to embarass me with a terrible match. Three minutes and a wonder goal later and I needn’t have worried. A further two 1860 goals and a red card left us feeling rather pleased with ourselves.

Thankfully we were able to fit in a quick power nap before it was time to get our party on once more as my housemate Agathe would be celebrating her Birthday as soon as Sunday evening became Monday morning. More socialising, more drinking and some impressive dancing (I’m looking at you, JH and Agathe!) ensued, as well as a tri-lingual Happy Birthday/Bon Anniversaire/Zum Geburtstag viel Glück sung with true gusto. Warrick, Thomas and I then decided that we needed a little more space in which to throw some shapes and headed to Harry Klein, an awesome club playing house that had somehow avoided my radar until now. In a shirt I was told looked like ‘a pair of curtains my Grandma used to have’ I danced the night away, even posing for an official photo which still is yet to be found on the internet. A visit to the well-known fast food monarch, Burger King left us sufficiently content and we headed home to bed.

With a surprisingly fresh head I woke up and went about finding MOTD on the internet to ease us into the Bank Holiday Monday. We arose around lunchtime and after acquiring the use of Agathe’s bike we headed to Burger House to continue a weekend consisting of only meat and beer. It was also time to say goodbye to the first Year Abroad casualties, as both Kyle and Simon have bid farewell to their home of the last 9 months and returned to England. Although this definitely won’t be the last time I see them, it certainly made it feel all the more real that there are only 3 weeks left of my own Year Abroad adventure.

We spent the remainder of the day racing around town, pulling various ‘sick tricks’ and trying not to cause any major bike-based accidents. By around 6 we we done for and headed home, finishing the night with homemade Currywurst, Zero Dark Thirty and infuriating Sporcle quizzes.

I’m very thankful that Herr Brown was able to get out and visit me in my natural German habitat, as he is actually the first non-family visitor I’ve had. Now I’ve just got to get my head down and enjoy every waking minute of my final three weeks in Munich, because I know already that my home town of Northwich is going to struggle to live up to the wonderful German city which I have grown to call home.

Munich On Film

Bit of an odd selection this. It’s taken me nearly 9 months to fill the roll of film in my camera and it cost me THIRTY EUROS to get it developed. I feel like I’ve been robbed, but there’s still some nice photos. From Munich, Christmas with the fam and Verona.