The Leipzig Chronicles

Our Durhamite abroad takes you through her first weeks living in Germany, and shows us the trials and tribulations of starting something new.

With the start of my year out from Durham, I set foot on-board England’s easiest jet and found myself in former East Germany’s Stadt of Leipzig, an hour away from Berlin.

It was however only once I had enrolled in the local language school that I found out in horror that the Leipzig accent was referred to as ‘not proper German’ and ‘sometimes so thick no one understands you’. Good start. The Geordie Shore didn’t feel so far away now.

The thing is, I lived through two years of a spectacularly enthralling A-level German with a teacher who used a collection of phrases like ‘On that…’, which he normally brought out after yet another screening of an ‘authentic example of German cinema’.

Our modest class of two saw the documented life of several historical figures struggling against the police-state. We saw Stasi officers debugging their premises, a chef seducing a woman by cooking offal in disturbingly creative ways, and we even saw some boob.

Coming to think of it, there was above average appearance of nudity in every film. We watched on, and we survived.

We delved into the German culture so thoroughly, that I felt now I was ready to utilise the language school in Leipzig to brush up on the spoken word and come straight out. It was to be my equivalent of a cold bath on a summer’s day- a necessary momentary occurrence that may give you a fatal illness if you endure it for too long.

Equipped with first hand experiences of the disasters that student language schools in my hometown of Oxford produce, I had no other plan but to perform this with a clinical precision. No friends. No settling in.

Leipzig, Germany

It’s now been two weeks since my first class. So what’s the deal you ask? What are the mysteries behind the modern phenomenon? Turns out I’ve enrolled full time in a language school cliché; the teachers and the pupils…so much to tell.

I hope to get out of class and back to my laptop fast enough after my daily 9-12 to document the golden moments and paint you a couple of personal portraits while nibbling on my Lebenkuechen, for you to read whilst you’re sipping on your Flat Whites.

I’ll start by answering those questions you’re dying to have answered.

  • Are you learning a lot?
    Yes. I’m learning how to forget everything I’ve ever learnt. Simple and systematic, starting two levels below where I left off. I am, however, picking up the perfect Leipzig accent.
  • And your course-mates? Are they nice?
    Why, yes. Once again, I have one other companion during class, with whom I’m lucky to discuss topics such as the lost opportunity to eat ice cream every day because of the colder climate, and the disadvantages of coming over with minimal German to marry a German you met online, and many other larger than life issues born from true stories.

Chats with my companion have also meant I think I’m picking up my Leipzig accent with a twinge of filipino. Let’s see how that goes.

With the next two months pre-paid, I can’t wait to see how it all pans out. I hope you can’t either.

Put yourself in my shoes, wake up every morning and think “Good Morning, sunshine – Do you know what you’ve gotten yourself into? ”


Annie will be sharing her year out with The Tab, but if you can’t wait for the next installment, you can keep up her Leipzig chronicles and the development of the Glashaus Gazette by following @intheglashaus on twitter.