Tuesday, September 3, 2013

All Good Things.

This day exactly one year ago was the day I began my adventure so it only seems fitting that today I write my last blog post.
To those of you who have read from the beginning:
1. Thank you so much for your attention, and
2. If you were willing to read all that rambling then you probably should seek professional help.
There has been highs, lows, frustrations, anger, laughs, staying up until dawn, staying in bed all day and most certainly everything in between.
If for some unknown reason you want to continue reading the pixelated version of the nonsense that could only be from my mind (again, professional help. Just saying) I can be found here from now on. (Warning: Will contain ranting about Final year)

Thanks for giving me a place to rant and rave depending on the situation and hopefully managed to offer some nuggets of information that will actually be found  useful. This is now a place that can be revisited to relive some of the madness that has occurred over the last 12 months.

See you guys soon and all the best.
-Claire

Monday, September 2, 2013

Bureaucracy The Eternal Pain In The....

So I haven't updated in a while.
3 reasons:
1. Not being on Erasmus any more means there is a distinct lack of Erasmus-y type things to write about
2. The only Erasmus-y type things that have been going on have been insanely dull and bureaucratic
3 I've been watching quite a lot of Netflix.

However I said my loyal reader (thanks again Mom) deserved a brief run-down on the boring part because as I have previously stated it's not fun and games all the time.
So we all know that bureaucracy can be the world's biggest pain in the......neck, lets keep it PG. It can be an even bigger pain in the neck when you're trying to get things organised from a remote location. (More of which can be read about here. Hurray for shameless self promotion!)
All Erasmus students must apply for a transcript of records containing all their results for a date to be set by their home University. Unfortunately your home and visiting Universities may not work in tandem leaving you to send frantic emails on a borrowed WiFi connection on the outskirts of Manchester 3 days before you 'must' and I repeat 'MUST' have it submitted. Thankfully after many stressful hours and even more panicked emails said transcript arrived at the UCC international office just about on time....only to be followed by more requirements in the form of a confirmation that I sat the exam. Apparently the fact that I sat (and failed) the exam (with a 5,0 to prove it) isn't enough. Now tracking down these confirmations should be simple yeah? HA! Well this isn't entirely true.
Within 2 hours of emailing the Politics department I was in possession (we as in possession as a person can get of pixels on a screen) of my confirmation. Unfortunately the department of Economics, the department I was actually enrolled to keeps finding problems and issues and if someone was to tell me they invented the phrase passing the buck I would believe them without hesitation.
So in summation (the academic season is almost upon us. Closing paragraphs are now a must):

  • Bureaucracy is a pain in the neck
  • Getting what you need from offices without face to face communication is up there with becoming a fully fledged astronaut for NASA
  • People tend to not be helpful over email and may refer you to an email that doesn't in fact exist
  • Dealing with 2 Universities at once is hard
However I am glad to report that all remaining paperwork is simply to allow my final grade for the year to be finalised. A result which I am glad to report was a pass.
Yes dear reader, contrary to what I know you believed, I managed to undergo an academic enrichment worthy of the passing grade for a full University year.
Or at least successfully managed to convince someone important that I did at the very least.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Pointless Ramble (Now With 100% Extra Rambling)

So it's August 3rd.
I find this very odd. My completely rational reasoning? To me this date never existed. I know hat sounds crazy, but stick with me on this one.
For the first time in about 2 years I'm not counting down to anything, be it counting down to leaving home and heading to Germany or vice versa. In my head life didn't exist past the end of July. This time last year I couldn't see past leaving for Germany and as I thought spending a year being lonely and miserable. 3 weeks after leaving I was trying to deny the fact that time was slipping (rapidly) away.
Now it's over and I'm trying to adjust to that. To the fact that having a chat with people will no longer be popping over for a cuppa but will require an internet connection and a screen (and before anyone breaks out the 'Back in my day....' speech I am well aware I'm lucky to have that much a'ight)
My only dealings left with Germany, for now, are getting results (any time you want guys. Tick tock.) and apply for my Transcript of Records. Expect an angry rant RE: Bureaucracy in the next few days.

I guess this post did have a point after all. Since I (in theory) set up this blog 1. As a way to keep track of everything I was doing and be able to look back on it when ever I wanted and 2. To give advice to future ERASMUS students. I  realise I failed miserably but you're the one currently reading this so who's the silly one in this relationship?
So this is my advice regarding going home: No matter how much you detest/detested the idea of going you will miss your host country. Like it or not it's a place you're going to have spent a year of your life which is quite a sizeable chunk. You're going to have met fantastic people that you're going to have to say bis sp├Ąter to, but as I've already mentioned it doesn't have to be goodbye if you don't want it to. Thanks to the magic of Skype if I mention them maybe they'll pay me for advertising? anyone that wants to can stay in contact. The magic of the internet. Well that and cat videos.
I think the biggest piece of advice I can give you is something that hadn't even crossed my mind: don't expect to just fit right back in to home life. You've been away, developed your own routines and ways of doing things, didn't have to answer to anyone and made your own calls on pretty much everything. You may think you'll slot back into your place at home and maybe you will, but for me it was, and still is a different story. Home may still be the same but I most certainly am not, and you know what? That most definitely isn't a bad thing.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Don't Expect It To Be A Long One.

So at time of writing I am homeless in Germany.
I am on the brink of eating a questionable yet quite delicious pretty haphazardly thrown together meal.
I am about to go out on what will be last night in Konstanz
and finally I feel like bursting into tears.
ERASMUS is on the brink of being over and I don't quite know how to deal with that fact.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Not Fun Side of Erasmus.

So I'm procrastinating. Hence the 2 posts in one day.

So it's exam season here in sunny Konstanz which really goes a long way to make our ever shortening time here and the sunshine considerably less fun.
The majority of days over the past 2 weeks have been spent in the library, gazing out the window of the library, wishing death upon the library, typing, looking at so many graphs I was considering just graphing my entire life and being done with it, eating ice-cream, studying British history through German (yes it's odd I know), wishing more death upon the library, wondering what the application process to join the circus is like, more typing, facebook, reddit, more reddit, research, eating, more reddit and typing.

It's been a busy few weeks.

Planes, Trains and Auto-mobiles: A Final Adventure in Berlin

So as we're well into the final countdown it was only appropriate that one more adventure be had. Having done my fair share of travelling there was only one place that could round off this year: The bats*it crazy German Capital.

Now if you've been following my year abroad 1. you really need something better to do on the internet and 2. you'll know that when it comes to trains I haven't exactly had the best run, (with the exception of Italy). Well, dear reader, on the first weekend of July 2013 (Yes I know that was almost 2 weeks ago. Shut it.) I truly managed to outdo myself. Now with the prospect of a 12 hour journey ahead of us our initial thought for the most comfortable and trouble free expedition would be the train. Apparently we weren't the only ones who had this thought as the train was full. Very full. So full in fact that it resulted in our party of 7 travelling in 4 different ways. Yes you guessed it, plane, train, auto-mobile and bus. (In fact the working title for the sequel). It would appear that the short straw was pulled by those of us that decided to unwittingly put our faith one again in Deutsche Bahn, in the form of a 2 and a half hour delay in Offenburg. The reason we were given? 'A Police operation' and the subsequent lock down of the station Now I hadn't known about the existence of Offenberg before then and now, to be completely honest and at the risk of completely loosing my strong Offenberg based readership, I want it to burn.

Still we arrived. Eventually. So what to do in Berlin? Well after rounding up the group and feeding the Canadian out first port of call was the Reichstag or German Parliament building and after that the next 2 days were filled with the standard tourist spots throughout the city. Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, The Berlin Wall, the Canadian Embassy (don't ask), The East Side Gallery, the DDR museum which has been closed for 2 years, The T.V Tower, the Holocaust  memorial, the grounds of the Olympic Park which contained the most over compensating motorcyclist I have ever seen. All this adventuring was promptly followed by naps and cocktails. Both of which I'm sure you'll agree are very very important. Which leads me on the the Berliner style of enjoying their Saturday nights. Lets just say that's where the bats*it crazy aspect comes from. If you're wandering down the street at midnight don't be too surprised if you see a impromptu gig break out on every corner. Well I say gig. What I mean is Busker + copious amounts of drunk people - a sense of shame = attempt to make your way down the street. Also don't be surprised if the only reason you go home is because the sunrise is telling you to. Or if you go to a club you get in at 07:30 wondering what the hell happened. 

Now, remember how I explained the difficulties involved in getting there? Well lets just say that the journey home had me yearning for the simplicity involved in getting there.
Deutsche Bahn Pro Tip: for the love of God check and double check and why not triple check the validity of special offer tickets on various train types. If you don't you may or may not (you will) get thrown off the train in the middle of nowhere. Like nowhere. I mean it, you may end up in a place where it's only selling point is it's distance from other places (there was a sign). So having to be back to Konstanz for an exam the next day not getting back wasn't an option. Unfortunately Deutsche Bahn wanted us to really earn it. Having gotten various timetables for various routes home and most definitely giving the lady behind the desk in the station the busiest and most exciting day she's had in years.  We came up with a plan:
We get to Frankfurt. We get a car. We road-trip.

Again, life hates us. Having rang ahead it still managed to take the bulk of an hour to actually get into the car, but I think belting out Bohemian Rhapsody while rocking down the Autobahn in a BMW 1 series was worth it.

Having travelled to quite a few places throughout the year i firmly believe there was no better way to round of the travelling portion of my adventures than by going to the nations capital.
That said, though I'm pretty sure any posts from here on out will be soaked in tinged with sadness I still have a week of adventures and fun times ahead of me in Konstanz and I plan to make the most of every second.



(Final two pictures courtesy of Rhys even if he doesn't know it yet)







Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tick Tock Goes The Clock...

Today is the 27th of June. I fly home for good on the 27th of July. This makes me too sad for words.

Please don't get me wrong. I am truly looking forward to seeing everybody at home (both 2 and 4 legged) after 4 months but it will be very bitter-sweet.
Over the next few weeks I have a lot to do. So much we were even given a list. Packing must be done, paperwork submitted, essays submitted (having sat down to do the latter being the reason I'm currently writing this) and worst of all goodbyes have to be said.

It's bizarre to think that the thing I dreaded and couldn't comprehend doing is now the thing I am drawing to the end of. To think that this time last year moving to Germany was this big thing that I couldn't even wrap my head around.
Over the last year I would like to think that I've changed for the better. There have been a lot of changes, both personal and academic. (Yeah, I learned s*it. Who'd have thought it?) I have met the most maniac and interesting people from the broadest range of backgrounds. I've made what I wish to believe will be lifelong friends. Some of which I am lucky enough to be spending another year with in UCC. Some who are a little further away but still near enough to fly to in less time than it takes to drive to Dublin (Yeah, I'm willing to fly Ryanair for you people) and some who I will be saying goodbye to for an indefinite amount of time (or until I need somewhere to say on the continent of North America). All of which will be harassed mercilessly on social networks of every form.

I am most definitely not going to dwell on it too much though. What's the point? All I know is that the next few weeks are going to be all about getting as much as I can out of every aspect of life here which will involve a highly acrobatic balancing act between actually turning assignments in on time while the little matter of exams looms on the rapidly approaching horizon and having as much fun as possible.

In the meantime: Next stop Berlin.