Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Germany Week 2 (Monday 9th – Sunday 15th)

This week was kind of special for me for a number of reasons. I cleaned my room for the first time; I went out with a bunch of friends on Friday to surprisingly good effect; I became an official resident of Heidelberg; also, baring one super expensive home appliance (coming up in week 3), I’m almost finished with expense type “household”. And finally I shouldn’t forget to mention that I had the results of my first two tests, something which being mentioned last in this opening paragraph should tell you all about my lack of enthusiasm about sharing the details on.

Home Cleanliness

But firstly and most importantly, I can finally say that I have settled into my room and feeling comfortable here. For the entirety of the first week - and part of the 2nd week as well, I was in a very dirty room and without a mop, a broom or a vacuum. In that time, I didn’t want to touch the floor, the desk, the mini fridge, or anything in the bathroom. It was just horrible in that sense.

Add to that, the fact that I was exasperating the whole situation firstly by keeping the window open most of the time thus allowing dust into the abode, and secondly by dropping hair on the floor… lots and lots of expendable hair

So why didn’t I take care of this problem in the first week? Well I tried. I scoured everywhere throughout the entire week in fact, to find a broom and a mop, but none of the supermarkets carry anything remotely resembling those, while the nearest IKEA is 15km’s away.

So in the end, I bought a vacuum off of Amazon and finally found the mop in the ground floor of the language Academy (I have no idea how I missed it all that time). Especially the mop… it was a giant eureka moment for me. It felt as if the dark clouds had parted from the skies, with light shining through, birds singing and Eru Ilúvatar taking me to paradise (Valinor).

Most of Wednesday I spent vacuuming followed by moping and just disinfecting the whole dorm with tons of detergent. Needless to say, I slept like a baby that night.

Friday Party

Ok so here’s the deal. I don’t like to have much exposure to crowded places that happen to have loud music, cigarette smoke and extremely extroverted people that put greater emphasis on vanity and style than I do (that’s about the most politically correct way I can put it). So on this particular Friday night, I wasn’t looking to accomplish anything in particular, but instead things just kept happening randomly.

So it was around 20:00 in the evening when I called my 18 year old Brazilian friend to see if he’d be interested to go for a walk downtown. Within 45 minutes of arranging the meet-up, we were at Bismarckplatz (town center) and ready for a walk down Hauptstraße (pronounced Haupt-shtgha-ze). As soon as we get underway, we accidentally ran into a fellow classmate of ours from Canada. She was with another guy from Tunisia.

Now a group of 4, we were looking for a place to sit down and have a drink. After some walking, Nat suggested that we should go to an Irish pub she knows. And without any objections from anyone, that’s where we went.

We got there and even though the place was large enough for a stage, a dance floor and plenty of tables for all. And even though the place was packed, there was still room enough for us 4 to squeeze into. We all ordered drinks, and even though I don’t drink, I grabbed a small bottle of Heineken (~€3) and ensured that it’d last for the rest of what I hoped was going to be a short evening.

During the course of the first hour we drank at the table, listened to loud music and exchanged a couple of jokes yielding a few laughs here and there. And then karaoke began. We had several opportunities to sign up for the chance but nobody from our table (now 5 people after another Tunisian classmate joined us) seemed to be interested.

It was super fun watching a bunch of people of all shapes and sizes get on stage and make a fool of themselves to hit songs. And that got me thinking, why should those people have more confidence than I do? Especially when I could probably be just like them.

I wasted a good 30 minutes thinking about it and arguing with myself about the pros and cons. The only thing I didn’t do while taking my sweet ass time deciding was spreadsheets, pivot tables, heat-maps, charts and graphs! It was silly and I was suffering a mini anxiety attack the whole time I was thinking about it.

One of the arguments I used in my mind was how at work I’ve been at meetings where I’ve had to explain bad results to a room full of higher-ups all staring at me and seemingly waiting to pounce at me at the most inopportune moments with the most difficult questions, and expecting good answers. If I can survive those, then I can definitely survive making a fool of myself in front of a bunch of people who don’t know me and in a country completely foreign to me.

Plus the oldest person besides me in our group was 12 years younger than me so I figured that any sign of “gutsy-ness” or “silliness” would’ve likely been received positively.

With my mind set, I just got up, walked under the stage, over the dance floor and to the DJ. I asked if he had “Love the way you lie” by Eminem ft. Rihanna. He did, so I put my name down, went back to my table and waited.

Once I had put my name down, I wasn’t nervous anymore. And in my body language-speak that means that I was going to get very nervous and jittery on the stage. Sort of like the calm before the storm.

A few songs go by and it’s finally my turn. The presenter of the evening says something to the tune of “Oh for God’s sakes, more nicknames? Why don’t people put their real names on these cards”, when calling me on stage. That’s when I get up - without any fear or emotion - and jet on over to him to get my microphone. He asks me for my real name and I unashamedly shout it out really loudly at the microphone and proceed to get on stage. But the song doesn’t start. The presenter who’s on the dance floor says on his microphone “Who’s gonna do the Rihanna part?” to which I respond “Nobody” while making a “I don’t know gesture” with my hands and with a small pivoting of my head.

He then turns around, looks at the audience and asks for a lady to join to sing Rihanna’s part. Someone volunteers and soon thereafter the melody begins.

As soon as the melody begins, I spontaneously look to the audience and say “This is to my fans from Brazil, Canada, and Tunisia” while pointing my finger at the table where my group was seated. This provoked a response from my friends who started yelling and fist pumping into the air.

And then the jittering and nervousness crept in and it only got progressively worse during the song. That caused me to miss the first couple of lines which in turn made it even more difficult to get into it, what with this being rap and needing to say words very quickly.

Eventually I did get into it but only almost halfway during the first verse. But then soon after I did, the presenter literally came back on stage and forced the microphone closer to my mouth before getting off the stage, down on the dance floor, kneeling down and making a bow motion several times while I was still rapping! I had no idea what was going on and all of that was a lot for me to process. I just kept rapping while my body wouldn’t let up on jittering till the end. I made several errors and fumbled the words a few times and that was it. So satisfying even though I could’ve done so much better.

I walked down the stage, handed over my microphone, collected my free shot (which I gave away), I got to my table and the groups seemed really impressed, and I was told that I was “really good” and that I sounded “exactly like Eminem”.

After me, the other 3 guys in my group also got the courage and signed up to sing and we had a jolly good time doing it until 2am!

Having this one time under my belt, I can probably do so again without feeling any nervousness. And I rather like that prospect.

Officially a Resident of Heidelberg

Also using my dorm address and papers from the academy, I signed up to become a resident of Heidelberg (it was mandatory though I don’t know what the penalty for not doing it is). It was a painless procedure for both me and Gab (he’s Brazilian).

And we received a nice welcome gift from the Mayor’s administration (pictures below)


Test Results

I have the results of my first two test and they’re kind horrible. The first test I got a 20/30 while the 2nd test I got 15.5/30.

These scores are proof that I don’t say it lightly when I say I’m struggling. I really am struggling and possibly a week or so behind most of my classmates. Fortunately it isn’t something I cannot manage and I am putting in the effort to catch up.

I have a new system of learning which I expect to yield results in a week or two. And with TV always in the background speaking German in week 3 and beyond, I do have confidence that I’ll be better off soon.

Household Expenses Almost Finished

Sure, there’s always running household expenses such as detergents, toilet papers and stuff, but for the most part I have finally amassed everything I need to feel comfortable while keeping my dorm clean. In this week’s expenses report, the handheld vacuum cleaner contributed in large part to the bloated sum of the expenses.

Unfortunately week 3 is going to be the worst of the lot with me having decided to purchase a TV, headset and scales. But that’s for next week’s report.

But with the vacuum out of the way and the TV almost here. I’m really hoping on cutting down on this type of expense as much as possible.

Expenses Report


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