Hello 2014!

Moin Moin ihr Lieben! (Sorry Andy, the ‘moin’ greeting is staying. (My friend Andy has an issue with the wonderful word that is ‘moin’. Just as well that I’m stubborn.))

The happiest of Happy New Years to you, my dearest Reader! I hope that this festive season you have eaten and drunk too much, that you saw your loved ones and, most of all, that you’ve activated the ‘tag approval’ function for Facebook photos; an absolute must for anyone on the mulled wine who might at some point have found themselves face-down in the bread sauce.

I’ve had a lovely two weeks back in England, and I plan on telling you all about it once I’m back in Hamburg in a few days. But for now, I wanted to welcome in the new year by reflecting a little on what I learnt last year. 13 things in 2013, to be precise. At this point, however, I only have about 3 things in mind that I picked up along the way, so I apologise if it gets a little tenuous from number 4!

Think as you type, what could possibly go wrong?

1. Travel makes my heart sing.

In 2013 I went to Berlin, Nice, Egypt, Luxembourg and, how could you possibly forget, Hamburg! To some, that might not seem like a huge list, but it’s been wonderful. I started off the year in quite a bad place personally, and I put a lot of regaining my happiness down to spending time in new places with wonderful people.

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For example: my lovely friend Jade from university; we didn’t know each other that well before we went to Berlin on the FaGSoc (French and German Society– we call ourselves FaGs. Yes, really) trip, but sharing a room with her, Louise and Georgie (both of whom I also love!) for those few days later led to visiting her in Nice, as well as spending the weekend in Luxembourg back in November, which you may remember from a previous post.

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My parents gave me a scratch map of Europe for Christmas (you scratch out the countries you’ve been to with a coin), and I’m hoping to be able to scratch off a few more areas by the start of 2015!

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2. Germans love nipples.

By this I mean that, about 90% of the time, the first thing I see when I switch on my TV in my flat in Hamburg is nipples. And I mean daytime TV. I often wonder whether some German producers eavesdropped and heard something about this British programme called Loose Women…may have got the wrong end of the stick there.

I’m not saying I’m having withdrawal symptoms due to the lack of nipples on British TV, but I’ve definitely noticed their absence!

3. English TV is great.

Cash in the Attic and Bargain Hunt aside, I have definitely missed being able to switch on the TV or log on to iPlayer and watch one of my favourite British programmes. Some wonderfully generous soul uploads the latest Graham Norton Show to YouTube every Saturday, so that lets me catch up on the chat show from abroad, but otherwise I have to settle for dubbed episodes of American sitcoms. Don’t get me wrong, I love things like The Big Bang Theory, but once you’ve heard Sheldon’s voice as it was meant to be, any attempt at dubbing is just irritatingly inaccurate.

Also, Sherlock. Need I say more?

4. Trim the fat.

By this I don’t mean that you should trim the fat off all your food, dear Reader, some even argue that it’s the tastiest bit (you know who you are)! What I mean here is that you shouldn’t ever feel bad about getting rid of the things around you which are bad for you. I’m not saying hire a hitman, I’m saying don’t be afraid to cut off contact with someone or something poisonous which is bringing you down.

And if they have a problem with it, then you were entirely right to block them out in the first place.

5. I love my friends.

It’s not that I hated them before, dear Reader, far from it, in fact! It’s more a case of having been abroad and realising the things that I miss about home. I feel like I have three sets of friends: school/home friends, uni friends, year abroad friends. Some cross over into two categories, but they’re all incredibly precious to me. It was my friend Sophie’s 21st birthday earlier this week and we all celebrated at Shaka Zulu in London. I had known almost everyone who was there for 10 years or so, and it was great to be reunited for a night out.

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The best bit for me, however, was the following morning, when Sophie, Hannah, Charlotte, Jo and Hester came into the room Hattie and I were sharing and we all sat around in varying degrees of feeling delicate, wearing our pyjamas and drinking cups of tea. Almost 10 years after we first met, we were all together again, like we had never been apart, like nothing had changed. That will be what I remember most from Sophie’s 21st, which I shall tell you about in my next post!

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PS- I also love my family, just to make sure that’s clear!

6. Being single is a blessing in disguise. Sometimes.

I know, I know! Hear me out on this one. Every time I go to the hairdressers, I brace myself for the inevitable question from the wonderful man who has been colouring my hair for years.

‘So, any gentleman callers at the moment?’

More often than not, I report back with a shake of the head, and roll off the usual lines: ‘No, it’s fine! I’m enjoying the lack of drama in my life!’, ‘I’m liking doing my own thing at the moment, really!’, ‘I’m just in a place right now where it’s for the best!’

But at this point these three phrases (usually utter lies) actually do apply. I know a lot of my friends are making the long-distance thing work for them, and I admire them for it, but I tried the long-distance thing for a time in England, and, well, the shit hit the fan pretty sharpish. (Sorry I couldn’t think of a more eloquent way to put it, Mum). There might be a book based on that fireball of a relationship at some point in the future, when I eventually grow a pair and develop the courage to write it. Watch this space!

But right now, I’m a little bit of a nomad, and I know it wouldn’t be fair on anyone else to expect them to deal with that.

7. I quite enjoy waiting for the green man before crossing the road.

Call me German if you like. I’m law-abiding and proud.

8. Weightlifting is the bomb diggity. As is the phrase ‘bomb diggity’. As is cycling!

No, ladies, you won’t look like a man if you lift weights. I never thought I would glow (not sweat. Glow.) so much with pride after squatting 95kg for 6 reps. I think the knee injury I had is pretty much gone now, so I’m looking forward to getting back in the gym in Hamburg!

Also, cycling is wonderful. I knew this already, but it was secured in my mind when I completed the RideLondon-Surrey 100 in August with Bev. It was a huge achievement for both of us, and we were lucky to have such a brilliant support team! #TeamOJBQ

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9. Ice hockey is also the bomb-diggity.

Because, well, who doesn’t like the frisson tied to the possibility of a rogue puck smacking you in the face at any given point during a match?

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10. Not only can you have fun while sober, you get to keep your dignity, too.

The title says it all, really. I have also amassed a serious amount of potential blackmail material over the last year or so.

11. I look good in Shrek ears (according to my Mum). I also make an Angry Birds hat look stylish (thanks for the gift, Dad).

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12. Richard Gasquet (tennis player) is beautiful. But we knew this.

Do you have eyes? Good. I’m glad you agree with me then. He’s also got a cracking one-handed backhand, which I got to see in person when working at Wimbledon this year! 

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13. I love Germany.

Need any proof? Read all of my posts in my blog; you should get a pretty clear idea of how I feel about it!

My year abroad came around at just the right time for me, and if it happens that I only make bad decisions after my time in Hamburg once I am back in England, I will always know that I made a good one in choosing to study English and German.

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This year is, although not academically tested, one of the most crucial things I will ever do, and I feel I’m off to the best start possible.

Anyway, well done if you made it this far! I hope you will all be able to join me this year, and I look forward to hearing all the adventures you get up to, my dearest Reader!

Happy New Year!

Mach’s gut!

Charlotte xxx

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