Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Finishing Touches

After the arrival of our new wardrobe last week, we pinched an idea from a friend of ours and ordered these cute replacement handles.  They weren't very expensive but make a huge difference to the wardrobe, I think it makes the room look more Summery.  My friend got hers at Butlers but we got ours through Ebay at a better price and it was also easier to order the design we wanted in bulk from there.  I love that we could tie them into our colour scheme and if we were ever to get bored of them, they are easy to change.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Family Time

One of the best things about the holidays is getting to spend time with family.  I'm so excited about heading back to England in August to see mine but one of the highlights of last week for me was getting back to Nico's home town to see his family on his Dad's birthday.  Last year we barely made it as we flew back from England on that day and the weather was horrendous - cold and stormy.  This year couldn't have been more different.  We were nice and relaxed after a great and very productive start to the holidays and the weather was almost too hot to sit outside!

I've said it before and no doubt I'll get onto it again but I love how all Nico's family come together on such occasions and it was really great to see everyone.  I'm really looking forward to heading back in a couple of weeks for a longer stay as we settle Pete in there before our trip.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

10k preparation

As promised, last week saw the start of my running training programme for the 10k in October.  It was about as hard as expected but definitely not helped on Wednesday by the weather - luckily that was the short run day.  We decided to go as early as possible from then on before the sun gets so hot.  So Friday saw us set of at 7.30.  I think I prefer going earlier and getting it out of the way though. 

I've never been big on running as I find it a little boring.  I certainly can't talk at the same time.  Luckily we have the beautiful park here so we've been varying the route and enjoying the views.  On Friday we even came across a mini farm which had expanded over the park so we were jogging with hens and sheep!

Looking forward to the rest of the programme and looking for a way to keep it up during our travels...

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Saturday Update

We have had a great first week of the holidays.  It's been very productive as well as relaxing.  On Monday we went in to Bremen to do some shopping for clothes and the holidays and on Tuesday we went to Nico's family for his Dad's birthday.  We have had gorgeous weather all week - in fact it's been a little too hot at times - reaching 32 degrees one day.  Luckily the weather finally changed last night and it's bouncing down now so it should cool off a little after - it's like a tropical rain storm just now.

We are finally all sorted for our trip to Amsterdam.  We've booked everything - train, planes, hotel, museums and printed it all off.  We've been researching restaurants and walking tours too - I'm really excited now.

We've caught up with both our families this week and I also had a lovely skype chat with my best friend in England who has finished work for maternity leave now!  We had a lovely lunch with Loreto on Sunday but missing her a lot now she is in England!

We finished the wardrobes yesterday, finally.  They look great now.  Like I said before, it finally feels like we are more settled in the flat now.  

For the first time this year, I have achieved more than four consecutive days of exercise in a row - I'm up to seven at the moment.  It's so much easier without work.  We started the 10k training plan which is going well so far.  It's paid off as I have lost three pounds this week.  We've changed our eating habits a little by having fruit smoothies for breakfast, a big healthy lunch and a light healthy dinner.  I also cut out coffee/cappuccinos which left me tired at first but feeling better.  I weighed in every day which I know I shouldn't but actually, it really helped to motivate me each morning.  I'm going to try to keep it up for another week at least...

I'm on my second book of the holidays having finished Nelson Mandela's autobiography which was a really good read.  It was highly educational and made me realise how much I need to improve my geographical and political knowledge!

Next week we're going to keep up with the programme.  The only plan we have is to go to a jazz night on Wednesday at the bar where we first met.  So apart from that it will be more healthy eating, more exercise and more reading.  Have a good one!

Friday, 27 July 2012


On Monday we went into Bremen to do some shopping ready for our holidays.  It did mean a lift on the clothes ban but I think I've done well to say those were the first trousers I have bought in over two years.  Anyway, the holiday clothes will be in our holiday pictures but I thought I would share these piccies with you now.

I've been thinking about getting a lightweight waterproof jacket for a while now as my waterproof coat was bought for a skiing holiday and is way too warm in Spring never mind Summer and my other lighter coats are not waterproof...and I live in Germany.

I fell in love with this one at first sight.  I love the colour, it had everything I wanted and was in the sale.  We had different pictures to decide which size was best.  One of the interesting things about shopping on Monday was that I don't know European clothes sizes and it was actually quite a nice experience to shop for comfort rather than a number.

I'm also hoping that buying a raincoat will secure us this gorgeous weather for the rest of the holidays!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Crazy Cat

Anyone who has visited our flat will tell you that Pete is quite spoilt, just about every room here has been turned over to Pete in some way and he has just about every cat toy imaginable.  So please believe me when I say that the picture below is not cat abuse - he chooses to curl up there for a nap despite having at least five other cat oriented sleeping places!  I guess he's like the child who has more fun playing with the box than the toys at Christmas!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Something New - Ginger Beer

When we went for lunch on Sunday, Loreto asked for ginger beer.  We managed to find her something similar but I had trouble explaining what it was as it's something I have never tried and although it is called beer, I knew it couldn't be alcoholic because it crops up on so many children's adventures in Enid Blighton novels, in fact, that's probably the only place I had heard of it until then.

Coincidentally we came across some ginger beer in the Asia food shop while we were out and about on Monday so our first new adventure of these summer holidays was trying that...

...and we were pleasantly surprised.  Nico introduced me to all things ginger after we started going out and he discovered that I am always cold.  It was a little sweet and probably didn't fit in with the diet but it was one can and I'm glad we tried it.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Sunday Lunch

On Sunday we went for lunch with Loreto and headed to Viertel where we wished we had gone the other Sunday.  At first it wasn't looking too hopeful with all the mainstream places on the main street packed with either people or gluten.  Then we headed off the beaten track a little and found this little gem.  It was very quiet and the food was delicious, we all had the carrot and orange soup with either salmon in apricot sauce or potato gratin - delicious!

Afterwards, Loreto and I played a little dress up!  

Monday, 23 July 2012

New Wardrobe!

So we finally finished furnishing the flat at the weekend with the incorporation of our lovely, big, new wardrobe.  Friday afternoon was a little too stressful for the start of the holidays but it was worth it to spend the rest of the holidays looking at this view:

I feel so much more at home in the flat with everything organised - both in the office and the bedroom now.  It's only taken a year, but we've finally arrived!

Sunday, 22 July 2012


Looking forward to...

  • a week at home catching up with friends and family.
  • seeing my nephew on his first birthday!
  • visiting Amsterdam for the first time.
  • spending lots of quality time with Nico.
  • meeting my best friend's baby (due 12th August).
  • my latest knitting project.
  • reading some new books.
  • relaxing!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Saturday Update

This week was relatively calm after the chaos of the week before.  It didn't get off to the best start when I was thrown in the deep end with a notorious class I didn't know well during project week because their teacher was off.  However, we made it through the three day project in one piece and by the end of it I was asking myself what all the fuss was about this class.

We also said goodbye to three colleagues this week who are all retiring.  That was sad and nice at the same time, especially as one of them is my head of department - Spanish.  It's crazy to think how long they had been at the school (100 years between them!) and also how good they looked on it!  

Finally on the work front, the week was also spent with the exciting task of setting up our new classroom, year team office and getting to know the team a bit better.  I really enjoyed that and am so excited about next year!

So that is it...we now have six weeks of freedom and I am really excited about it!  So much to look forward to!  We started off with a crazy afternoon building the new wardrobe which we still had to finish this morning!  It looks great though - more on that later.  It was a bad week on the weight front with three pounds on!  It wasn't a great shock as we polished off the wine from last week's party this week but I had stayed off cheese so I didn't think it would be so bad.  The good news is that I'm off to a great start for this week and plan to be much more focused as I don't have work as an excuse!  

Next week will be quiet although we are heading out for lunch tomorrow and have a couple of skype sessions planned.  I also need to chase up my new contract and book the train for Amsterdam...so maybe it will be busy after all but full of nice happy things!  Have a good one.

Friday, 20 July 2012

School's Out!

Cheesy as hell but it had to be done!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The best spring rolls ever.

When Jamie's first opened in Leeds with The Best Olives Ever on the menu, I thought he was exaggerating...until I tasted them and I've since told just about everyone I know about them (well, I have now!).  In the same way, I think you probably think I'm exaggerating in my post title here...well maybe you should just wait until I finally convince Nico to open a restaurant and you taste them...

So delicious I forgot to take a picture until I was halfway through my second portion (yes, I know Saturday is going to be a bad one!)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Spot the Cat

Here's the latest round in what's becoming a regular feature - spot the cat!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Inspire Me.

I have to admit, I'm finding it harder than expected to get through this last week at work.  I thought it would be easy until my colleague called in sick and left me with a class I don't know.  To be fair the kids were really well behaved (I hope that doesn't jinx it for the rest of the week...  One thing made me a bit sad was when they told me they won't achieve the leaving exam...being the 'bad' class.  I was talking to a colleague about this later which was coincidental because her class graduated last week and one of the girls mentioned the same thing in her speech, thanking the said colleague for never giving up on them even though they were the 'bad' class.  It really got me to thinking about where they get this attitude from.  As a teacher, there are certain classes that I dread teaching but I would never tell them that.  It just goes to show how much kids actually pick up on and it's something I need to work on - body language and being more positive.  This also struck me last year when I took a class I had been teaching for over a year on a class trip and they said it was the first time they had seen me smile!  It makes me sad to think that that's the impression I give off!  I think it's because I find it hard to strike the balance between being nice and being a pushover.  Being young and female already has it's disadvantages, especially in a school with so many Muslim boys!  So my target for next year - smile more and be nicer to pupils!  Actually, I'm going to start today when I am doing the game of life project with the same class again.

By the way, if you need a pick me up, try this.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Nico's Birthday

As I mentioned, it was Nico's birthday last week and while we had a quiet day on his actual birthday, we had a party at the weekend.  First of all Nico's family joined us for coffee and cake in the afternoon.  For some it was the first time they had visited the flat so it was nice to be able to show them round.  The nicest part was introducing them to falafel.  Nico has been making this for a while now but we were unsure as to how his grandmothers would take to it.  Everybody loved it and one grandma in particular couldn't get enough of it!  In fact, Nico held an impromptu cooking class in the kitchen and has been 'invited' to cook for everyone next time we are there.

In the evening we had a few friends round for more falafel and drinks.  It was a really nice everning, and there were even penguins about!

Ed and Loreto

Christian, Nico and Bjorn

The crazy penguin!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

28 things - grow and eat a vegetable.

When I wrote my 28 things list back in April, we were just getting to grips with the balcony and having the space and knowledge to develop our green fingers.  I've managed flowers and herbs and decided to try my hand at vegetables.  Having somewhat limited experience with them at home, I decided tomatoes were my best option and we bought a tomato plant at the garden centre.

It's been a steep learning curve, including repotting, replacing the supports and learning to prune but the plant is thriving and has several bunches of tomatoes growing now.  This week, one of them finally ripened, giving me something else to smile about every time I look on the balcony and on Friday we incorporated it into a light lunch with Nico's home grown basil (delicious and also thriving) and some mozzarella cheese.  Of course one tomato wasn't enough and we also used some store bought ones but actually I was glad as it gave me a point of reference to make comparisons and I could definitely taste a difference.  The balcony tomato was somehow more tangy or fruity.  

Just looking forward to all the others ripening up now!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Saturday Update

I know that I am getting to say this every week but this week really has been manic.  I guess it seemed more so as I expected it to be relatively relaxing with it being the last week of teaching for the year.

At school we said goodbye to year ten.  So on Tuesday I but on a dress and heels for the first time in a long time and headed to the Treue ship in Bremen for the prom.  It was, as it always is, great to see all the kids dressed up to the nines.  All of them had made a huge effort and really enjoyed the night.  Then on Friday we had the presentations / leaving assembly which was really lovely and emotional.  I will really miss my group.

Wednesday was Nico's birthday.  We had quite a quiet day, a nice dinner watching some of his birthday DVDs.  The real party is today so we have family and friends coming round later and lots to get ready for.  

Wednesday was also the union meeting and protest.  The political and financial situation for teaching in Bremen is not great at the moment and there will be just 75 new teaching positions for the next school year.  This may sound like a lot but when applied to our school, we have three teachers retiring, my contract officially ending, and three teachers on or soon to be on maternity leave.  To cover these jobs next year, we have been allocated two new teachers!  The most shocking part of the day for me was hearing of three schools in Bremen who have no head teacher at the moment and won't be given new ones for next year!  It was a great feeling of community taking part in my second protest, let's see if it changes much...

The worst part of the week came at 3am on Thursday when our smoke alarm went off, and I don't mean the kind of going off where the battery is low and it beeps occasionally, I mean the full on wailing siren, scare the hell out of you going off.  After the initial panic, we realised there was no fire and disabled the alarms, but not knowing what had done it and being so full of adrenaline meant little sleep afterwards and being exhausted all the next day.  When we looked it up, it could have been a bug, dust or humidity, but then it seems strange I've never heard of this before.  We haven't been brave enough to plug them back in yet...

In an amongst all of this, I managed to keep up to both my targets for the week as well as those from the week before.  I've stayed the same again this week but I'm pleased with that at the moment, I'm planning to focus more on the diet and exercise when the holidays start and I have no other distractions.  For next week, I'm cutting out cheese (unless it's part of a recipe) and want to build up on this week's start by doing zumba twice next week.  I've also managed to strike another item off my 28 things list...more on that tomorrow!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Office Love!

As you may have seen in my goals diary, one of the things I wanted to achieve this year was a filing system in the office for my work.  The office is one of the rooms I use the least in the flat and my section has definitely been neglected since we moved in.  Well, now I've been working on this for a few weeks and finally finished it off this week.  I'm so pleased with how it looks. 

Also, it must have inspired Nico a little as he picked the same day I finished my area, to give his area a whole make over and now the whole room looks more pulled together.  Very happy.

Thursday, 12 July 2012


One of my 28 things for this year is to learn to draw.  There were two subjects at school which were by far my worst - Sport and Art.  The only A I ever got in art was for a self portrait that my Mum did for me!  It's only now that I'm getting into crafts and the like that my interest in art has been reawakened and at the weekend I started a drawing course.  I chose the book 'How to draw anything' as it was recommended on Amazon and got to work.  I'm pleased with the results so far but really eager to get working on my own pieces once I learn the basics.  As you can see, we started with landscapes.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Salmon Burgers

Here's a new recipe I tried out last week, adapted from a Zest magazine recipe.


400g smoked salmon
1tbsp dill
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp mustard
2 tbsp mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp polenta
1 egg


Cut the salmon into fine pieces and re chill in the fridge for ten minutes.
Mix the salmon with the other ingredients and form into burger shapes on a baking tray.
Heat in the oven on 200 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes.
Serve with a nice salad.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Blooming Marvelous!

Finally the lovely bulbs that Nico bought me back in February are blooming - don't they look fantastic?  They really brighten up the balcony.

And look at the tomatoes!  Twelve on there now and one getting nice and red!

Monday, 9 July 2012


This week my old school friend, Leanne has answered my questions to let us know a little about her experience moving abroad. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Leanne, I’m 27 and I come from Yorkshire. I graduated from the University of Leeds in 2007 with a degree in Political Studies. I currently live in Gliwice, which is a city in the South West of Poland. I have been teaching English since my arrival in January 2011.

Which countries did you move from and to and why?

I moved from England to Poland in January 2011. After years of wanting to experience living abroad, I finally applied for a job in Poland. I had never considered Poland as an option prior to applying, but it seemed like a good opportunity to try both teaching and living in a foreign country. Three weeks later, I arrived at a very cold Krakow airport (thinking ‘Why did I decide this would be a good idea?!’)

What kind of expectations did you have before you moved?

My knowledge of Poland was limited before I moved here, so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of the country. Although I was apprehensive at first, my initial contract was only for 5 months, so I was aware that if I hated it, at least it would be over quickly!

Despite these early worries, I was very excited to try something new. I expected to learn a lot about Polish people and culture. I also hoped I would be able to learn a little of the language, and meet some interesting people.

Did your new country live up to these expectations?

Yes. And much more. After arriving and having a two-week orientation in Krakow, I moved to Gliwice. From the first day, I felt at home. The people were very welcoming and friendly. The city is fantastic. The students were lovely, and were keen to teach me about Poland.

What was the best thing about moving?

The people I have met and the things I have done. Moving here opened up a lot of new things to me and I have tried to get involved with as many as possible.

What was the worst thing?

It can be frustrating living in a country and not having a good grasp of the language, although I have never had any real problems with communication. Small things can also be irritating – such as Post Office etiquette! However, I wouldn’t say there are any really bad things about moving. My experience has been extremely positive overall.

What has been your favourite experience since you moved?

My current location means it is easy and cheap to travel. So far, I have visited Ukraine, Germany, Slovakia, Austria and Czech Republic. I’d say my favourite experience was going to lunch one day with a friend and just deciding to go to Prague on a whim. An hour later we were packed and on the bus to the border.

What steps have you taken to accustom yourself to your new country?

I have started Polish lessons and am trying to study at home. It is a very difficult language to learn, but after a year of being completely baffled by the grammar, I am slowly starting to understand! Polish people are proud of their country and customs, and a lot of students and friends have taken me to visit the mountains, museums, lakes, castles and even a salt mine. They are very keen on sharing traditions, too (many of which revolve around food and alcohol). This has made it incredibly easy to settle in.

What tips would you give someone else thinking of moving abroad / to your country?

Do it! In my experience it has been the best thing I’ve ever done, and has given me a lot more confidence to just go out there and try different things. I have seen people move and decide that it wasn’t for them, but I think they all took something positive away from their experience. I also think that you get out what you put in. If you’re willing to make an effort to get to know the locals and the country, you will be rewarded. Talking more specifically about Poland, I would say that whatever preconceptions people have, they should leave them on the plane. It is a beautiful, interesting and very safe country. The people are some of the most welcoming and friendly I have ever met.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Saturday Update

Let's get it out of the way first - this week I have stayed the same again.  I did well on my other two goals - make up was gone every night and I only drank on one school night which was a big improvement on the week before.  I'm going to keep it to weekends now - I feel much better for it.

New goals for the week are - do my full face routine (cleanse, tone and moisturise) every day before bed and not just remove my make up, and cut out sweets this week.  I did really well for a while just having fruit for afters and recently haribo and the like have been creeping back in so that has to stop.

It's been madder than I expected at work this week given that there were no lessons on Monday and most of year nine were out most of the week.  I've got all my report grades done, prepared as much as I can so far for the new year five and finished teaching year ten!  Next week should be easier as it's the last week of teaching which means films and games but Tuesday night is prom so it's probably going to take it out of me as I am usually in bed by nine!  

We also did quite a lot for us this week.  We had lunch in town on Sunday which was really nice and meant we could make the most of this lovely weather for a little while instead of just having to work in it all week!  I'm almost finished on my office project - more on that to follow.

Next week is also Nico's birthday and we are having lots of people round over the weekend to celebrate.  Last year we were in Whitstable for it which shows you how long this school year really is!!  Not much else to report this week - have a good one!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Shoe Love

The above is the story of my day today.  I don't seem to be having much luck with summer shoes in Germany.  First my favourite and only pair of comfy flip flops fell apart on my feet in Neustadt, and then I lose half of my shoe on a shopping trip with the girls and have to hobble home.  Now I either have to work on breaking in my other flip flops.

It coincided with this brilliant post from Elise...how strange!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Blog Swap Update


As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am taking part in the Soak up the Sun blog swap. Last Monday I sent of my little parcel of goodies and on Tuesday I received mine from way over the Atlantic, and it couldn't have come at a better moment. 

Carly sent me this cute pink bucket filled with goodies including a gorgeous scented candle, sweet post it notes, some funky notecards, an amazing 'cool beans' iced coffee set, a cereal bar, a mini body lotion and even a toy for Pete - which he loves!  Such a great idea from Meg - it really brightened up my week and I will be using these goodies all Summer!  Thanks Carly!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Spot the Cat!

On Monday I finally got round to filing the papers that I have accumulated over the last two years, you can see how that looked above.  You can also see where Pete curled up for a nap and has been sleeping every day since!  Strange creature!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Childhood Films

On Saturday evening I went back to my roots and watched this old classic.  E.T. was one of the big movies of my childhood, it brought me to tears every time I watched it.  Saturday was probably the first time in about twenty years that I watched it and I have to say it's a very different experience as an adult, the movie did still bring me to tears though - the classics will do that to you!  I noticed the music more than ever, not many films have such great scores any more.  I thought the acting from the children was great but was surprised at how poor the mother's character seemed compared to when I was younger and how young the actors looked!  I was also surprised that I wasn't terrified by this film as a child.  I still remember having to run out of the school hall on a snow day so nobody so me cry at the part where he dies!  Classic.


Here is another of my former favourites - Labyrinth.  I used to love this fantasy tale as it seemed like another world.  I especially liked the bit with the two guys above as I could never figure it out.  It's another one I added to my adult collection but unlike E.T. it seemed more of a let down when watched through grown up eyes.  The effects certainly didn't stand the test of time and I didn't find it as enjoyable but I'm holding on to it for future generations as it's a great kids film.

When thinking back to the films of my childhood, many Disney ones come to mind but this has to be the top of the list.  Little Mermaid was the first film I ever saw at the cinema.  We were on holiday in Scarborough and my little sister was just a baby so my Mum stayed at the cottage with her while my Dad took my brother and me to the cinema.  I loved the film but cried all the way home and scared my mother to death when she saw me all upset...all because I couldn't believe that Ariel would leave her father and sisters to go off and get married - what a Daddy's girl!!  This one is also in my collection now.

What films take you back?

Monday, 2 July 2012


I'm still waiting for some responses from some of my interviewees.  In the meantime I thought I would give you my answers even though you may already have read about some of these things.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Jenny.  I'm a 27 year old languages teacher.  I'm trying to learn new things and find lots of new adventures.

Which countries did you move from and to and why?

I moved from England to Germany to take up a two year contract teaching English and Spanish in a secondary school.  The main reason I found this job was that I was struggling to find a permanent teaching post in England despite the supposed lack of languages teachers.  Actually, it turned out for the best though as I love it here and am currently trying to extend my contract.

What kind of expectations did you have before you moved?

I had a relatively good idea of the school system as I had worked in a German school as a languages assistant for six months during my time at university.  I think I expected things to be easier than they were at first.  I thought Germans were very organised and that things go very smoothly here.  I also read a lot about German customs and got all panicky about things like not being allowed to wash clothes on a Sunday.  I also expected the way of life here to be healthier and greener.

Did your new country live up to these expectations?

In some ways.  The authorities here are very organised in many ways but one of the biggest struggles for me and for other friends moving here has been the amount of paperwork and red tape involved in anything.  For the first three weeks of my contract, I couldn't work as they wouldn't let me sign the contract until a piece of paper from the school I used to work at got sent through.  Of course, this meant I had no income and I'm still paying of debts that I built up getting here and getting settled.

A lot of the strange sounding customs are just guidelines rather than rules so I've never had problems with washing on weekends or such things.  Also, the health benefits are definitely true.  I sold my car after living here a year and now cycle more.  I find the cost of living cheaper and we eat more healthily in general.

What was the best thing about moving?

Where to start?  It's obviously been great for my languages skills and for the lifestyle as mentioned above.  I have a relatively secure job which I love and which allows a much better work life balance than I ever had in England.  The best thing was meeting my amazing boyfriend and setting up home with him, though.

What was the worst thing?

There have been several ups and downs but the worst thing for me is being away from friends and family.  We get back to England twice a year and often have friends and family to stay but I have missed out on things that I would have liked to have seen - my niece's christening and birthdays, my nephew's birth.  Thank goodness for Skype and cheap international calls and flights.

What has been your favourite experience since you moved?

Where to start?!  Being a teacher, my days are filled with good and bad experiences, some of my favourite experiences here have to be with the kids. I love going into new classes where I'm just the crazy English lady as they don't realise that I actually speak German and they make much more effort to practice their English.

Outside of school, my best experiences have mainly been with Nico, whether it's a long summer bike ride in the country here or being made to feel welcome in his family.

I think the best experiences on the whole for me here are those when I've been made to feel welcome and at home in some way as it compensates for some of the downsides mentioned above.

What steps have you taken to accustom yourself to your new country?

The language is obviously a huge one.  Despite having a degree in German, my level had definitely gone down in the years since I left uni.  When I first got here, I couldn't follow meetings at work for more than half an hour, now I follow the whole things and even actively take part!  Getting rid of the car and buying a bike was another huge change but another positive one.

What tips would you give someone else thinking of moving abroad / to your country?

First of all, have back up.  As I mentioned, I'm still paying off debts I built up in moving here.  I can't believe quite how naive I was to pack up my car and drive here with no flat lined up, no contacts here and no back up money.  It was difficult as I only found out I got the job a month before I had to go so I didn't have much time to save, but it would have made things much easier.

Secondly, as the others have said in previous weeks, the most important thing is to make the most of the experience.  Especially if you are there for a limited time.  Say yes to everything, make new friends wherever you can.  While at uni, I spent six months in Germany and four in Spain but crammed much more into the time in Spain as I was on Erasmus and met people through that and said yes to every night out, trip, sightseeing day...everything and they are some of my best memories.  That's part of the reason I'm trying to take on so many new things here, it leaves me with amazing memories of great experiences.

I hope I haven't bored you all today with old news! 

Sunday, 1 July 2012

52 Weeks of Grateful - Week 5

49. Lovely sunny balcony weather on Thursday evening.
50. My drawing book arriving in he post - more on that to come...
51. The bulbs on the balcony flowering.
52. A visit to the Anne Frank exhibition with my friend Taisiya.
53. Lovely lunch with the Spanish ladies and tips on Spanish grammar...

I can't believe I got to my 52 and beyond in just five weeks.  I know I am a lucky lady.  I'm going to keep this project up for myself but probably not on the blog as it feels a little bit like I'm bragging every Sunday!  We'll see...