The fabulous thing about living in Germany is that I get to experience nature changing with every season. Summers in Germany are the best. There’s always so much going on here. Summer brings out the best in Germans. With more sunshine and warmth, they are cheerier and in a better mood. They spend more time outdoors. In towns and cities everywhere, you’ll see people sitting in ice-cream cafes or in parks, licking colourful ice-cream cones. It’s not just the Instagram generation doing it, it’s literally everyone.
For the life of me, if I don’t know why you’d want to learn German in the first place. It’s difficult (trust me, it is), it takes forever to master and it’ll take you a lifetime before you could pass off as a German native speaker. However, if you’re doing it out of love, for a university programme, or if you’re just plain masochistic, well then, where else would you rather learn German but in Germany? I don’t need to extol here the benefits of learning the language at the country of its origin and embracing the experience of living abroad so I’ll just get on right to how to go about applying for the German Language Visa.
First of all, if you find a programme that could be completed in three months, you could just sign up and learn it on a regular “tourist visa”. For Malaysians, we could enter and stay within the EU/Schengen zone for 90 days within 180 days without a visa. Which means, you have 90 days to remain and travel freely within the Schengen area.
Chasing unconventional experiences is what I love best when travelling.
If you’ve an opportunity to do something different or unusual, you should always go for it.
The beauty of saying yes to a spontaneous and unusual experience somewhere foreign is always so much more memorable than going through a checklist of sightseeing spots. Like our attempt to catch a midnight movie in a cinema in Batam (but failed, because we fell asleep out of exhaustion in the hotel), watching the Valentine’s Day opera in Riga, and now, watching a famous Disney’s Lion King in Hamburg. In German.
Of course, this wasn’t as unplanned as the rest. The tickets to the musical was after all our wedding gift from our friends. But they must have known us well, to have gifted us with such a precious opportunity to do something completely different. I mean, they could have just bought us a kitchen appliance or simply cash, but no, these geniuses had other plans.
I’ve got a confession to make.
Chris and I finally tied the knot in April and held the reception in August this year. I thought I’ll just mention it in passing just because someday, I intend to write about our wedding in Germany. But not today.
due to large wedding expenses (it was already a backpacker budget!) and preparation, we couldn’t travel as often as we did the years before. We didn’t take our usual 2-week summer vacation like most Germans would. And the traveller in me withered up and almost died. What, no travelling? How could you do this to me?!
So when it was finally over and done with (with only thank you cards to send out now), we heaved a sigh of relief. While all I wanted to do is to crawl onto the couch and watch Netflix for a 100 days straight, there was a gift of travel waiting for us.
…AND SOME OBSERVATIONS
I’m not entirely an outdoorsy person no matter how much Chris tries to turn me into one. My favourite pastime is curling up with a glass wine and a good book, not huffing and puffing away riding a bicycle against a mean slope. That’s more like up Chris’ alley or just about any Germans (in all stereotypical sense). I do admire the tenacity and faith of walkers of the Camino and Pacific Crest Trail, and how walking all the 800km of them would be an excellent way to not only experience nature but also to train your mind and body. But at this point of writing and in all honesty, I prefer reading about them than embarking the arduous journey.
In other words, I’m just your typical lazy city girl.
You’d think that living in a highly globalised society, and having German friends (prior to meeting Chris), nothing about Germany will surprise me. Well, not true.
To my (pleasant) surprise, there are still plenty of interesting traits and habits that I’ve come to discover. They don’t shock me but it sometimes make me go, “What the hell…”
Usually friends find it hard to keep up with my whereabouts when I was still clinging on tightly to my identity as a nomad. Texts and emails that start with, “Where are you now, Ying?” are not unusual. It was always fun,and privileged to say the least, to come up with a different answer each day. Yes, last week I was in Dubrovnik and today I’m in Ajaccio—life rocks as a traveller. Traipsing from places to places had defined me. While others had labels like “The Career Woman”, “The Fun One”, “The Doctor”, I was simply called “The Wanderer”. That suited me just fine.
But these days, my answer to the question above is less exotic. I’ve been answering ‘Germany’ for a better part of the year.
Yes, The Wanderer have been living in Germany for a year. And a little bit more. Apart from a handful of short road trips (I consider 2 days to 2 weeks short), I have been a true resident of the quiet Hermsdorf.
TAKING UP AN INTENSIVE GERMAN COURSE
It has been three weeks since I started my first German lesson at the VHS.
During the day, Chris is at the office while I’m left to my own devices. I am trying to set up a freelance writing career so I usually write, blog, read or loiter around the Internet for ideas.
My phone buzzes, demanding my attention.
WHERE IN GERMANY ARE YOU LIVING IN AGAIN?
I‘m growing comfortable living in a little German village called Hermsdorf. To the uninitiated, it’s somewhere in the state of Thuringia, where the nearest bigger cities would be Jena and Gera. Leipzig and Erfurt would be an hour away while Berlin a mere 2.5 hour drive.
Still lost? Me too. I knew nothing about Hermsdorf before I got here.
Admit it. We always turn pensive when New Year’s Eve rolls by.
The last day of each year, somehow commands an enormous power to make us think. Whether you like it or not, you tend to contemplate, to muse and chew on the little high and low moments of the year that went.
I rang in the New Year by making a dish of Malaysian chicken curry for my new-found German friends at their place. I’d tried my best to emulate the simple flavours of home but without the right ingredients, it didn’t turn out the way I’d wanted.
The curry was way too creamy, the chicken not flavourful enough.
But because it was already late and everyone was hungry, I couldn’t just dump the dish into the bin and make another. Besides, I didn’t have enough ingredients to start making another one.
Unfortunately, for me, the dish must be served.