Tag: year abroad

Travellings: Deutschland #23

I’m currently sitting in the airport lounge at Munich airport as I write this. You will be reading this long after I have touched back down in the Land of Tea and Crumpets.

Today, I had my last day in the Bavarian Beer Monster – last day of work, last day living in my lovely nest of a flat with the most wonderful flatmate I could possibly have wished for, the last day for a while with a few important individuals.

I’m very much aware that this will sound like an obituary. It’s not. I know it’s not. But it certainly feels that way at the moment.

I don’t like the whole saying goodbye. I’ve said this at the beginning of the year abroad when I moved out, but somehow this is different. I suppose part of me always knew that I would return to my parents and see them again. But non-family members are different. Some people move on, some find it too painful and simply distance themselves, and others you simply drift away from.

Which is sad. Yes, there were times when I seriously asked myself what the hell I was doing. I certainly doubted my sanity at several points throughout the entire year; not just the beginning, and there were times when I had regrets.

But I can also happily count a large number of firsts and amazingly good times, too. First time I was entirely responsible for myself; first time on a massive rollercoaster (thanks, Ben.), and first proper concert, among other things.

Not bad, really.

And now I’m coming back. Sadly my relationship with Munich has been a little rocky, and after several attempts to save it, we’ve decided to separate due to irreconcilable differences.

It’s been a blast, Munich, it really has. I’ve learnt a hell of a lot in a such a short time, and I’m certain that I will look back on my time here as an adventure.

And whilst I may not have allowed the people I left behind see my tears, it was certainly a different story once they’d gone.

On the other hand, there’s always Oktoberfest:

Morning after the night before
You know when you're little and you think your toys do the whole Toy Story thing? Turns out they've been growing up too...

Also, macht’s gut, München, und danke für den Fisch.

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Travellings: Deutschland #20 – The Jabberwocky and Das Nonnenturnier

Apologies for the lack of posts as of late, but things got rather hectic and then came along Christmas and New Year, which were naturally spent in land of tea and crumpets. I then got back to the Bavarian Beer Monster on Monday night and then spent the next day sorting my things out before returning to work for 2 days – today in Bavaria is a Bank Holiday, so I get to finally update this blog before returning to knitting and writing more of the Book of Roo (previously named the Wuzel and the Butterfly).

Shortly before Christmas, I discovered a German translation of the Jabberwocky. Actually, there are several translations, but the one by Christian Enzensberger is my favourite. For those of you who are unacquainted with one of the most frightening monsters of my childhood, the two versions are as follows:

The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood a while in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
He chortled in his joy.

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

——–

Der Zipferlake von Christian Enzensberger

Verdaustig war’s und glaßen Wieben
rotterten gorkicht im Gemank.
Gar elump war der Pluckerwank,
und die gabben Schweisel frieben.

“Hab acht vorm Zipferlak, mein Kind!
Sein Maul ist beiß, sein Griff ist bohr.
Vorm Fliegelflagel sieh dich vor,
dem mampfen Schnatterrind.”

Er zückt sein scharfgebifftes Schwert,
den Feind zu futzen ohne Saum
und lehnt’ sich an den Dudelbaum
und stand da lang in sich gekehrt.

In sich gekeimt so stand er hier,
da kam verschnoff der Zipferlak
mit Flammenlefze angewackt
und gurgt’ in seiner Gier.

Mit Eins! und Zwei! und bis auf’s Bein!
Die biffe Klinge ritscheropf!
Trennt’ er vom Hals den toten Kopf,
und wichernd sprengt’ er heim.

“Vom Zipferlak hast du uns befreit?
Komm an mein Herz, aromer Sohn!
Oh, blumer Tag! Oh, schlusse From!”
So kröpfte er vor Freud’.

Verdaustig war’s und glaßen Wieben
rotterten gorkicht im Gemank.
Gar elump war der Pluckerwank,
und die gabben Schweisel frieben.

——–

I then found an entire website dedicated to the various translations of the Jabberwocky. So far, I have found the following Polish and French versions – there were several versions for the French, but Frank L. Warrin’sLe Jaseroque” I think is by far the best.

The website is unable to show all of the Polish accents, so I decided to put them in myself for those of you interested:

Dżabbersmok
Maciej Słomczyński

Było smaszno, a jaszmije smukwijne
Świdrokrę tnie na zegwniku wężały,
Peliczaple stały smutcholijne
I zbłąkinie rykoświstąkały.

“Ach, Dżabbersmoka strzeż się, strzeż!
Szponów jak kły i tnących szczęk!
Drżyj, gdy nadpełga Banderzwież
Lub Dżubdżub ptakojęk”

W dłoń ujął migbłystalny miecz,
Za swym pogromnym wrogiem mknie…
Stłumiwszy gniew, wśród Tumtum drzew
W zadumie ukrył się.

Gdy w czarsmutśleniu cichym stał,
Płomiennooki Dżabbersmok
Zagrzmudnił pośród srożnych skał,
Sapgulcząc poprzez mrok!

Raźdwa! Raźdwa! I ciach! I ciach!
Miecz migbłystalny świstotnie!
Leb uciął mu, wziął i co tchu
Galumfująco mknie.

“Cudobry mój, uścisńij mnie,
Gdy Dżabbersmoka ściął twój cios!
O wielny dniu! Kalej! Kalu!”
śmieselił się rad w głos.

Było smaszno, a jaszmije smukwijne
Świdrokrętnie na zegwniku wężały,
Peliczaple stały smutcholijne
I zbłąkinie rykoświstąkały.

If you’re a technical kind of person, I’m sure you’d find the parodies section highly amusing, particularly this version:

Browser Mocky, by “Abacus”

‘Twas busy, and the server tones,
Did beep and buzz all day,
All satisfied were the Netscape users,
And JAVA was okay.

Beware the Browser Mock, my client,
The contracts bind, the pages crash,
Beware Bill Gates, the software giant,
And all his monopoly trash.

They took their presentation boards in hand,
Long time they battled in court,
So struggled on the lawyer band,
Whining as their last resort.

Computer buyers stood aghast,
The Browser Mock, with exploiting ad,
Said that Netscape could not last,
And that made the clients mad!

Internet Exploiter! We hate you!
The browser market was taken back!
A cream pie flew; Bill Gates will sue,
But it made a triumphant whack!

And hast thou deleted the Browser Mock?
Come to my webpage Netscape friend,
And all the JAVA script will rock!
The joyful E-mail will even send!

‘Twas busy, and the server tones,
Did beep and buzz all day,
All satisfied were the Netscape users,
And JAVA was okay.

——–

Anyway, the reason for me mentioning the fact that I had found a German translation of perhaps my favourite poem is the conversation I then had with a friend of mine who told me not to confuse it with the Bavarian word “Zipfel”. “Zipfel” is the Bavarian slang equivalent to “knob” in English. So potentially to a Bavarian, one of the most fearful creatures of my childhood could theoretically be reduced to “knobhead”. He then went on to explain the etymology of the word “Zipfel” and its Mittelalt Deutsch roots. At which point I asked him how it was that he came to know the etymology of such a word – to me, it simply said that 1) he’s a bit weird, and 2) he simply has far too much time on his hands.

The explanation, however, was far more reassuring. He had to translate a medieval German text into Modern German whilst doing his degree. The text, I subsequently discovered, is one of the most bizarre, mind-boggling pieces of literature I think I have ever come across.

The text in question is “Das Nonnenturnier”, which translates roughly as “Nun tournament”. If you think the title’s weird, you wait until I tell you about the plot. I swear you cannot make this stuff up.

Maybe I ought to switch my area of interest from linguistics to literature?

So, the plot goes like this:

There once was a knight who was very popular with women because he was so well endowed. But because this was the only reason why he was popular, he became very depressed.

Now, at this point, I turned to my friend and pointed out that I know several gents who would be more than happy to be in that situation, and I am pretty sure that depressed is the last thing that they would become. But it now starts to get really strange.

In fact, he was so depressed about the whole thing and no longer wanted to be seen as a sexual object, OH THE IRONY. Us women are such users. he decided to lop the bloody thing off.

At which point I simply looked at my friend completely dumbfounded and uttered one word: WHY?

Now, although said appendage was no longer attached, women still wanted it and pursued the knight across the country.

Because, you know, as a woman, controlling my libido is quite frankly beyond me and it’s the only thing on my mind.

He then decided to hide it. In a nunnery. Up a nun’s skirt.

Now, I’m no expert, but I would assume that as a nun, hiding something of that nature up your skirt has several implications. Forget the hygiene issues of hiding amputated male genitalia underneath your skirt, think about the practical implications – mostly how you hide it up your skirt. Somehow I doubt you’d still qualify as a nun. Just putting that thought out there.

So now that the presumed “ex-nun” had decided to almost certainly break a few fundamental convent rules, the knight left his “Zipfel” under her skirt and went off to do heroic deeds and thereby become recognised for the heroic and exemplary individual that he obviously was.

Except the “Zipfel” didn’t like being under her skirt (funnily enough). So it told her and then ran off (Oh, did I forget to mention that this thing could talk and move independently?) – the resulting chaos being a battle-royale of sorts amongst the nuns when it came to light exactly what had been hidden.

At least, I think that’s a plotted synopsis. I stopped listening part-way through because I was laughing too much and my brain was in melt-down while it tried to comprehend the obviously drug-induced plot.

So, with that lovely mental image, I shall leave you all to enjoy your Friday evenings and hope you all have a relaxing weekend.

Preferably without nuns.

Oh, and for those of you who come across my site whilst searching for pictures of raccoons, here’s one for you crazies:

Sleepy raccoon
Sleepeh.

Travellings: Deutschland #19

Today has been one hell of a Monday. Apart from a few amusing news articles and yet another language howler which resulted in more hysterics and thereby proving that I should not be left to fend for myself in a foreign country, let alone be asked to work with people, I think I can safely say that today is not my day – albeit with an equine theme.

The first thing that made me spit out my water (because I left the sodding tea bags at home) was the discovery of this article on the BBC about ear guaging, or how to stretch an ear piercing until you can pretty much fit small animals through it. Which was fine and seemed perfectly normal until I came across this phrase nestled innocently amongst its neighbours:

“American rapper Travie McCoy and American singer Adam Lambert are also stretching devotees. British fashion expert Gok Wan is also partial to large wooden ear plug adornments but it is not known if these are being used to stretch his lobe.”

I would like to draw your attention to the second sentence and point out, that yes, this article is still live on their website. That’s a bit cheeky, Beeb. Cheekier than I would expect you to be.

I then (fortunately after lunch) came across following article on The Register, which discusses the use of certain equine bodily fluids as aphrodisiacs in New Zealand.

I dread to think what this is going to look like for anyone looking at my browser history. I swear to God I came across it entirely by accident.

I was later asked if I knew if it was possible to connect a Mac monitor to a Windows PC as an additional monitor. I then asked which connections it had, except I wasn’t sure of the word I was looking for and ended up mis-pronouncing the word for plug.

So instead of saying “Stecker”, I said “Stecher”.

“Stecher” means stallion, but of the human-kind – or, as dict.cc described it: “für einen Mann mit hoher sexueller Leistungsbereitschaft”. You’ve got to love German; I mean, in which other language do you know can two and three letters have such a profound influence over the meaning of a word/phrase?

If the example above doesn’t illustrate my point enough, then please carry on reading:

“Verhältnis mit jdm haben” (to be involved with someone) and “Verhältnis zu jdm haben” (to be related to someone).

Small letters, big difference.

German language: 4, Becca: 0.

Travellings: Deutschland #18

I don’t like Mondays.

To add to the general insult of being forcibly removed from my beloved bed when it was still dark this morning, I have also discovered that I’ve run out of tea. My main stash is at home.

Seriously. Words fail me.

Oh, and you know the year abroad has finally gotten to you when you start dreaming in German.

My head hurts :(

I think I’m off to stroke something furry.

Sushi, aka Misz. Cat-napping partner in crime extraordinaire.

Inane Whittering #12

So, long time, no post.

In my defence, at the beginning of October I was signed off of work for 3 weeks due to wrist problems. The assumed culprit was Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Several doctor’s appointments, a course of electric shocks to test the nerves, an x-ray and ultrasound scans later, I finally know what’s wrong.

The Neurologist I saw had no idea what was up and simply said “Kind, die Nerven gehen nicht kaputt.” Naja, I could have told you that after having had electric currents run through them. The Orthopaedic specialist yesterday was far more amusing to deal with. After pushing and pulling my back about and remarking “Sie haben wirklich breiten Schultern – kräftig. Sie können auch ein Bissel mehr essen, aber außerdem ist alles in Ordnung.” (You have really broad shoulders – strong ones. You could also do with eating a bit more, but apart from that, everything’s fine), he decided to send me for an x-ray.

As per usual, it couldn’t be something straightforward. Oh, no – that would make things too easy. I have what’s called Ulna Minus, where the ulna (or die Elle, auf deutsch) in the wrist is too short. This results in a weaker, more flexible joint. The ultrasound then explained the mysterious pains and pins and needles I’ve been having. Ganglions are benign cysts or tumours and it turns out that I have some growing inbetween the nerves in my hand. And ridiculously low blood pressure doesn’t help either – at the time of the ultrasound, I had no radial pulse, which was a bit awkward.

So now I know that more corners were obviously cut when I was built in the factory, I can happily return to work and strengthen my wrists – the only real treatment option. (It’s also the reason why I’ve rekindled my knitting obsession – I last remember knitting when I was 6, so prepare for the ensuing hilarity and blog posts)

Which brings me back to why I’m writing this – computermabob people, I be needing your sage advice again.

I’ve been tasked with redesigning the website. That’s it. Re-structure it and generally make it more accessible. Oh, and somehow fit all the info on one screen without losing content and generally removing the need for scrolling.

Mission impossible? Bring it.

So, after having done some googling and referring back to documentation I remember using last year in Computers and Languages (see, Martin? I was paying attention) I’ve been toying with the idea of trying to build something vaguely tablet-friendly i.e. something with a form of horizontal scrolling. The beta version of the BBC website (only available for UK IP addresses, but I saw it whilst back in Blighty for a lightning-quick visit) was the inspiration, as is GMail’s slick new look, which works wonderfully on my little netbook.

My problem is once again the CMS – I’m supposed to be moving the entire site over to Typo3, which certainly gives me more freedom than our current CMS (there’s even an HTML view! /geekout) I need to work out if I can use javascript – if not, then I’m stuck.

Anyhow, my question is if anyone could recommend anything – I’m already looking at the tab widget that jQuery offers, but then came across this combination of CSS and Mootools which results in a horizontally sliding “follow the mouse” effect.

So, oh Wise Ones, what say ye?
Yay, nay or something inbetween?

Travellings: Deutschland #17/Musings #7

I was on the tube on Thursday mulling over various unhinged thoughts in my little head when something insanely obvious jumped out and smacked me right in the face with a wet fish. Hard.

Fish slapping

I have been misplaced.

By misplaced, I mean when you’re about 9 (or in my case, 20) and you can’t find a particular (and often very important) document/possession. Naturally, you go to mum/dad/the nearest responsible adult and bemoan the fact that you’ve lost said item, only to receive the following unhelpful response, which is usually accompanied by a sigh:

“Are you sure you haven’t misplaced it?”

At which point you indignantly reply that no, you certainly have not misplaced it and then give them a reproachful look in an attempt to make them feel bad for making such a ludicrous and hurtful allegation, only for them to go and find said missing item in the first place they look.

Anyway, back to me being misplaced.

At first, I thought I was homesick. Wednesday was another howler of a day and so I decided to speak with family back home. It consisted of The Leggings Incident, The Mosquito War and an unfortunate trip to the supermarket.

Firstly, The Leggings Incident:

On Tuesday, I decided to go and buy a cardigan after work, except that failed miserably and I ended up buying legwarmers and leggings which were in a sale. I then decided to wear the red pair – yes, I actually have something colourful in my wardrobe – to work yesterday. Now, I’m incredibly lazy when it comes to my appearance, (as my father will confirm) and so I decided to wear a long sleeve t-shirt instead of a tunic – the length of this particular item is key. If you pull it down far enough, it comes just short of half-way down my thigh.

So, yesterday morning I got up (in the dark) and got dressed (in the dark – because I’m lazy thinking of the environment and saving energy) and went to work. I did get a few odd looks on the tube, but this isn’t particularly unusual, so I didn’t pay any attention.

I then spent the morning working and attending various meetings with colleagues as usual. At lunchtime, I went to the loo and discovered – much to my absolute horror – that my leggings were opaque on my lower legs, but the higher up my leg, the more transparent they became.

The looks on the tube this morning were because you could clearly see my underwear through my leggings. Mortified, my face promptly turned the colour of said offending item of clothing.

Leggings Incident

Cue walking around for the rest of the day trying to pull my top down far enough to cover the tattered remains of my dignity:

Leggings Incident 2
Subtil.

I then had to go to the supermarket on the way home and in true keeping with the day, I got to the till and realised I had no money on me. I had to run home, grab my wallet and then run back.

When I got home, I then had the Mosquito War. For the past few days, I’ve been waking up each morning with insect bites, which is rather confusing given the time of year – but not when you realise that the weather has been uncharacteristically warm as of late. The thing is, back home in England, the mosquitos/bitey insects there were typically British and we had an understanding: you don’t touch me, I won’t kill you.

Mosquito
Yes, he has a pipe. No, don't try to understand.

I’d just gotten out of the shower and was getting dressed in my room when I noticed the little bastard hanging upside-down from my ceiling:

Mosquito War 1

What happened next can only be described as an epic battle of titans.

Epic battle of titans

My eventual victory, however, was short-lived.

Victory

Whilst I had remembered to shut my bedroom door, I hadn’t shut the curtain to my balcony. Being on the 4th floor, this wouldn’t normally be a problem. But because I was obviously having such an underwear-orientated day, it would just so happen that we currently have builders working on scaffolding directly opposite and they’d seen the entire debacle of me half-dressed, seemingly dismantling my bedroom single-handedly, all the while waving an old newspaper around.

Needless to say, I was disctinctly unamused.

I then decided to ring home and whinge/laugh/cry about the utter rubbishness of it all. After an hour or so of singing to/with my Grandmother and catching up on all of the adventures and happenings back home, I felt…weird.

Which is where my original statement about being misplaced comes into play (if you can remember that far back). Living here in Munich is interesting. I don’t know any other country which can have an international stereotype of being so straight-laced, (and here in Bayern) religious, and yet is still perhaps the only place in Europe where an annual beer festival can take place for 3 weeks without people rioting and the whole place being burnt down to the ground. The public transport is generally on time (I hope you’re reading this, TfL), clean – at least, by British standards – and efficient.

In short, it’s clean, orderly and I swear that it even occasionally has that “new car” smell to it. The streets are built in the rather American grid-like layout, so should you miss a street, then you can easily turn down the next one and the buildings still have something of their original colour to them.

In other words, I currently feel like the child who has forcibly been made to relinquish their favourite, much-loved and lived-in slobby jumper for a brand-new, smart looking suit that itches and is bloody uncomfortable.

Or you could compare it to being the messy person who’s just been invited in to the living room of their OCD colleague/friend and then feels horribly uncomfortable and out of place.

I don’t belong here in the orderly and the clean; I belong in the mess, the chaos and the dog-eared.

Don’t get me wrong – London is far from perfect. I have slowly been learning that there is no such thing as absolute perfection. (Which, as a perfectionist, has been exceptionally hard to grasp) London is grimy and sooty; the transport system is an absolute shambles and everything is mind-bogglingly expensive. Yet it has a certain dog-eared quality to it that your favourite teddy has. I bet your favourite teddy isn’t looking anywhere near as clean as he did the day you first got him.

I like the chaotic layout of the streets, too. It makes getting lost interesting and you also never quite know what you’re going to find on account of the vast mix of cultures we have. I like it when the weather’s cloudy, drizzly and a little nippy – it’s what London’s known for. But most of all, it’s the character that the city has – the intricate gothic architecture, the historical sites and the quirky little things like the Jewish cemetery in the middle of my university campus.

I moved to London about 2 years ago to start my degree, and I guess the reason I miss the place so much is because I associate it with feeling like I truly belong somewhere for the first time in my life.

I enjoy what I do and I have met some of the most amazing, genuine, intelligent and inspiring people there.

In other words, it’s home.

So, my course of action? Why, sulk, of course.

That, and maybe some slightly inebriated singing along to Adele’s Hometown Glory in my room this evening. And maybe tomorrow, too.

Or just all week.

Because the problem isn’t just that I’m misplaced.
London’s calling.