Everything that’ll happen to you on your German Year Abroad
Lederhosen is life, lederhosen is love
Germany – whether you choose to go there for its amazing history, its legendary nightlife, or simply because you didn't get your first pick when it came to Erasmus, prepare to have your expectations shaken upon arrival. After spending some time in Cologne working in a secondary school, I've learnt first-hand everything that'll happen to you on your German Year Abroad.
You live in a country of near-functioning alcoholics
When beer is cheaper than water and you get paid for returning empty bottles, it’s no wonder that it’s not uncommon to see young men drinking at bus stops on a Sunday morning.
German is hard
You make a mistake whilst trying to fumble your way through German and are forever teased about it, like when you confused the word 'black' (schwarz) for 'dick' (schwanz). The look on your colleague's faces' when you asked the headteacher if they could just "Pass me my dick coat please" can never be forgotten. You think that by tomorrow it'll all be forgotten about, but little do you know that this is now your nickname in their Whatsapp group.
Your leaving thank you card will say it. Their children's children will forever know of George and His Coat of Dicks. Don't worry, everyone will be too focused on this to even remember that time you mentioned the war.
If you're working as a teaching assistant, be prepared for invasive questions. No Paulina, I do not have a girlfriend. Neither do I have a boyfriend. I don't know why nobody finds me attractive, Paulina. Why are you alone Paulina?
The language of love?
After the fear of dying alone has been awakened in you, you download Tinder in a lapse of desperation. Profiles range from sleek, Bauhaus-inspired profiles in which the user only wears black, to bumbling Brits here for a stag do. Just take your bratwurst and go, Brian.
Passing all your spare time
You take up hobbies you would never have dreamed of doing back home in order to make friends and try and 'integrate yourself into the community’. Picking up the bassoon? Sure. Medieval LARPing? Why not? Picking your host mother’s scabs? A pleasure. After you’ve made a friend (sustained eye contact for longer than 3 seconds = friendship), it’s important to act as their chaperone, like you’re walking some sort of expensive European pedigree. Take as many photos as possible to upload to Instagram and show your home friends, “Look, today I performed a human action ABROAD”
Visits from home
After begging your friends for months to visit you, they eventually scrape enough together to visit you during their reading week. You plan a mental weekend in Berlin, where, after queuing for hours to try and get into Berghain and then being turned away by Sven (google him), you end the night explaining to the bouncer in broken German that no, your friend hasn't taken a dodgy pill, he just thought it'd be a good idea to mix Currywurst with that suspicious bottle of Lidl Vodka for 4.29€.
At the end of your year abroad, you'll hopefully be able to speak German better, navigate your way through the minefield that is German humour, and have some pretty good memories to (das) boot.