Sunday, December 17, 2006

End of Act 1

Yep, my stay in Aachen is coming to an end. For now, at least. I've spent the best part of four months here now, and will return in January for the best part of five after a (hopefully) choclate-and-turkey-filled interval. I'm trying not to think about how fast my year abroad is evaporating, nor about how much my German is improving. It'll be worth it just for the Dutch I've learned, though, because although I say it myself my Dutch is now actually pretty good. A small group and an excellent teacher who conducts the whole lesson in the target language have been contributing factors in this, and of course the fact that the rest of the group (with one exception) are native speakers of German. This technically puts me at a disadvantage, because the languages are so similar - a very large proportion of words in the two languages are fundamentally the same word, spoken and written slightly differently. In actual fact, however, it spurs me on. I've never really tried to learn a language in a group in the UK outside of school, so I can't really judge, but I have a feeling that the pace would be far too slow for me to really sink my teeth into it. Here the pace is fast, as much of the language's grammar needs little or no explanation where in English it would need to be explained in detail. This is challenging, but ultimately more rewarding and enjoyable. My last lesson of the third course is tomorrow (Monday), and it may well prove to be my last ever formal Dutch lesson, as the fourth course won't go ahead unless eight people sign up. But I now have the tools to just go out there and immerse myself without drowning in unfamiliarity. Yay!

Another two Christmas markets have been visited, one in the town of Jülich and one in my local village/suburb of Brand. Jülich disappointed, but that was probably only because of the continuous drizzling rain. Besides, I had a wonderful Dampfnudel with hot vanilla sauce and cherries, so it wasn't all doom and gloom. Brand was the smallest affair so far, but picturesque. Three girls were standing on a little stage playing carols on flutes, which was cute. Plus it wasn't raining.

On Tuesday I'm off to see ETG's performance of Macbeth in Liège, and I'm really looking forward to it. ETG was AWESOME last year, and if the show's even two fifths as good as Taming of the Shrew it'll be worth the trip. Then on Wednesday I fly back to the UK. I don't know if I'll be blogging over Christmas; probably not, as there are so many more fun things to do. So I guess this is a temporary goodbye from me to all my loyal readers. That is, after I've finished with the...

Ritter Sport Ratings

Yep. They're back. Because there's a new flavour in town.

Whole Peanut: 6/10
I get the feeling that this is just the Golden Peanut from earlier in new packaging. And WHAT new packaging. OK, Ritter, you may have already used all the colours of the rainbow, but that doesn't mean that you have to use luminous orange! Ick. It made me want to vomit just looking at it. Eating it, on the other hand, was far more of a pleasure than I remember. I think I said it was an incongruous combination, but it didn't feel like it this time. Maybe they've tweaked it, or maybe I was in a better mood to receive it. Either way, this one now places at 6/10, between Amaretto Truffle and Hazelnut (white chocolate).

Bye for now, and I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

- G.

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