Moin moin you lovely people,
I’m coming to you live from my bed. Less glamorous than you might imagine because I’m actually ill and therefore involuntarily bed-bound. I was a fool to think that I’d be able to avoid illness so early in the year, but I hoped I’d be able to because, quite honestly, I am awful at being ill.
I mean, biologically, I do the ill bit itself quite well: the headache, the sore throat etc etc, but the actual coping with it physically and psychologically isn’t my strong suit. Suddenly I want to do all the things I haven’t been bothered to do in a perfectly healthy state. ‘I should get some paint and have an “accent wall”,’ I muse. ‘It’s definitely time for a hoover in here,’ I observe from the vantage point that is my bed. And, most frequent of all, ‘I should definitely get a head start on my course reading for 4th year.’
Well, none of these things have happened, nor are they likely to while I’m confined within my little flat. But still, my mind wanders, which has led to this latest post: is it just me, or are all Germans in relationships?
Ok, ok, not all Germans per se, of course, but a huge majority of the people I’ve come across have a significant other, which definitely wasn’t the case back in England, as far as I noticed.
It’s probably not unusual for me to pick this up, given that my most recent committed relationship was with Downton Abbey (I watched all of series 1-4 in about 5 days. That’s what boredom and insomnia will do to you), but there certainly seems to be some kind of relationship boom going on in this neck of the woods.
A friend of mine who is also an assistant told me that when she was introduced to one of her classes for the first time, one student asked her if she had a boyfriend. On replying that she didn’t, the student was taken aback, as were the others in the room, and asked her, ‘well, why not?!’
How on earth are you supposed to answer that?! I’m not sure at which point it became a personality defect to be single, but it certainly feels like not having a romantic partner in crime makes you stick out like a sore, love-deprived thumb here.
But why? Are German relationships somehow inherently different to our own?
As I’ve mentioned before, I hugely admire those who are thriving with their long distance loves, but I would have thought that being nomadic and being single go hand-in-hand, and that it certainly shouldn’t be a surprise to find that someone going abroad for a year also happens to be single.
I’ve also mentioned my hair-colourist before, and his interest in my love life when we see each other every few months or so. When I left England for Hamburg we parted with his insistence that I give him all the details on all the German men I was bound to meet.
Well, aside from the creepy propositions I’ve had at the launderette, I actually haven’t had anything to report, even though I notice that I get stared at quite a lot here (probably more negatively than positively.)
Speaking of which, you may remember me complaining about a particular class I had on my own back in October. Their behaviour was so draining and verging on sexual harassment that I was officially removed from being in contact with the class ever again. Of course not being in a classroom with them and not seeing them around school are two very different things, and I get the feeling that since their dressing down about their behaviour, they’ve made it their business to make me as uncomfortable as possible whenever I see them around school. This entails staring, comments as I pass, as well as invasions of personal space if we find ourselves in the same areas, or worse, in the same carriage on the train. All of this means that I now almost exclusively wear headphones and listen to music on the way to and from work, so that I can at least pretend that they don’t exist.
And people wonder why you might be glad to remain single when that is the poor excuse for men that I come into contact with on a day-to-day basis. But you can always count on two men, Ben and Jerry, when times get tough.
Anyway, I wonder whether it seems like almost everyone I’ve met is in a relationship because the students I have are generally older, perhaps averaging 27-30 years old. They are the main exposure I’ve had to Germans and their culture since I arrived here, but being off the market seems a prevailing trend amongst them.
I mean, even Creepy Neighbour manages to find someone to have inappropriately loud sex with every once in a while.
One thing which has become apparent to me recently, however, is that the stereotype that all us Singles must be lonely is, of course, untrue (as I already knew), but that it would seem instead that being in an unhappy relationship is more lonely than anything else. I certainly hope that all of my students who are taken are happy; being with someone purely for fear of the alternative is definitely not the answer. You don’t need anybody else to validate your existence, that’s all I’m saying.
Anyway, well done if you’ve made it this far with my strange musings, which I hope were all somewhat coherent (I’m currently drugged up to my eyeballs- legally, of course).
I’d love to hear your opinion, if this is an international thing that you’ve noticed too, whether you’re an assistant or not. Please do let me know what you think!