well i have now been introduced to the city that is essen and i am quite impressed. there are shopping malls all over the place and the centre is bustling, day and night. the most surprising thing of all is the pace of life here. it’s just so much more relaxed than auckland. people seem to have more time for other people here – whether it’s the shop assistant or just people taking time out to have a beer in the afternoon in the sun. same goes with the people i’ve met (and i’m not sure if this is just because it is holidays at the moment, we’ll see) but they have been so kind and helped me more than i could’ve imagined, especially as my german is not good yet. the other night i took the train back to my flat after being shown a little of the essen nightlife and as i got out of the train it was raining. a guy who looked similar age to me had an umbrella and as i walked down the ramp a metre or so from him, he leant the umbrella over me! right up until i took a different direction. i’ve never experienced anything like that!
my first day here i went into the supermarket and was completely overwhelmed at not being able to understand packets and labels. i bought some pasta and had to come home and type out the back of the packet into google translate to know what needed to be added! i’ve ordered “eine kleine pomme bitte” (one small fries please), and on another day my pronunciation of a berry drink lead to me being laughed at by the guy i was ordering it from, so great.. i’m yet to try bratwurst or currywurst or becks or anything specifically german… but the food here is so cheap. i bought toothpaste for €0,55, a loaf of bread for €0,49, 2x500g of strawberries for €2! it’s crazy. wine (if only i could appreciate it) can be bought for as little as €1,50. that’s about $2.30 new zealand dollars. oh and vitamin c (the ones that come in a tube, like berocca) i bought for my cold for only €0,45. shops are closed here on sundays too which i imagine would be quite good for the shop owners (eh mum & dad 😉 ).
i’ve got a bike now which i’m so thankful for as it makes exploring my surroundings a lot easier and by the way my muscles are feeling this morning i’ll have thighs of thunder by the time i leave here! i’m slowly adjusting to riding on the right hand side of the road, although i still find myself checking for cars in the wrong direction. tomorrow i begin german classes which will be good, sehr gut. maybe it will also help me understand all of their dubbed over with german american tv shows which at the moment are cringe-worthy.
below are a few photos from the last few days (click on them to view bigger, the quality is not that great on here):