Tuesday, 3 February 2015

It's already been a year ...

Hey everyone - and sorry about the massive delay!

I can't believe it has already been a year since I came back from Australia and New Zealand, so finally here is what happened on the way back:

Because I cancelled my second trip to Fiji in January, my travel agency advised me to book a direct flight from Christchurch in New Zealand to Brisbane, Australia so I could still use the remaining flights for my return trip. Unfortunately, however, direct flights between Christchurch and Brisbane depart in the early morning, meaning that I got into Brisbane around 9:30 am local time with my connecting flights leaving at 2:30 am the next day: I was in for a 17-hour-wait.

With my Australian visa still valid, I could of course leave the airport. On the downside, that meant I couldn't buy any souvenirs in New Zealand like wood carvings or the famous Manuka honey. Instead, I got to spend the afternoon in the botanical gardens with Özlem and Jan-Henrik, two fellow scholarship holders who studied in Brisbane. Time-wise, however, I probably wouldn't do the same trip again - a 48-hour-trip is simply exhausting and nerve-wracking even if everything runs smoothly.

Brisbane Airport: Leaving Australia
On my connection flight to Singapore, the plane was more than half empty, so we all had three seats to ourselves and were able to stretch out. That changed once we reached Singapore for a short stopover of about an hour. Get off the plane, get back on, go! The flights themselves were very agreeable thanks to the fantastic service of Emirates - when I got to Dubai, however, I was desperate for a shower. And two hours later, I was on the final leg to Düsseldorf. After another hour's wait at the baggage claim, my family and friends welcomed me back to Germany with freshly-baked Swedish cinnamon buns (explained further below). 

Approaching Singapore - one of the biggest ports in South East Asia!
Singapore Changi Airport: Tropical Singapore
Approaching Dubai over the desert
"The World" - man-made islands in the shape of the Earth and its continents
Since then, quite a lot has happened as you might imagine. While I was overjoyed to graduate Sydney Uni with a Master's degree and celebrated my last day of university EVER (!!!), things worked out a little differently here. I worked on an educational project for a while, assessing Year 8 students' cognitive and manual skills before going back to Paderborn University as a Bachelor of Education student. In case it makes you wonder - if you want to become a teacher in Germany, you have to have studied an education-related programme and graduated with a Master's of Education, which is what I'm working on now. I managed to claim credit for many of my B.A. courses so I am expecting to complete my second Bachelor's degree this year, followed by the M.Ed.
German universities require education students to demonstrate their suitability and competence in a number of internships, one of which I am now doing abroad (yes, again!). It will only be for four weeks in March and it's probably in one of the places most different from Australia: Lapland in northern Sweden. For Lapland, March still counts as winter so I'm expecting to see a lot of snow, a lot of reindeer and hopefully Northern Lights. I will keep you updated on this in March!

Preview: Lapland in winter =)
As far as travelling goes, there have been a few trips that I would like to share photos and impressions of.
In June 2014, I went to Sweden's west coast with my Swedish class (oh yes, I missed Sweden!). Our teacher, who is from Sweden, invited us to join her and her family in their house for a week. And they don't just live anywhere, they live on an island. Probably the most picturesque Swedish island there is - but take a look yourselves:
Gullholmen, Sweden
Going out for a fishing trip
Successful mackerel fishing
View from kitchen window

West Coast archipelago
Haga, Gothenburg
Biggest Cinnamon Bun in Sweden (yes, that's a dinner plate!)
Then, I went to the North Sea for a daytrip, which is something that I missed a lot when I was in Australia. Even though the Australian beaches are awesome, the beaches on the North Sea are different and probably more like what I am used to. Thanks to Dirk for the awesome day on the island of Spiekeroog!

Frisian tea tradition
"Teatime in the white house" - Low German
Way to the beach
The beach as seen from the sand dunes
North Sea sunsets
In August, I visited my grandparents for an entire week to take "cooking classes" with my grandma (and write down all the yummy recipes!). To top it all, we made our own liqueur from my grandparents' mirabelles (small, yellow plums), which was ready for tasting around Christmas O:-)

Northern German architecture
My grandparents' barn at sunset
Mirabelle jam
My grandma's blueberry pancakes
Self-made ice-cream cones
Speaking of Christmas - there's nothing like a cold Christmas, guys! I took the opportunity to travel to different Christmas markets, namely the one in Antwerp, Belgium (Belgian chocolate actually IS yummy!) and the one in Gothenburg, Sweden while visiting a good friend, Laura. The Swedish Christmas market was set up in what is usually an amusement park, with little coloured houses, lots of stalls and push carts where we could taste roasted almonds, whiskey jam, fudge and all kinds of little goodies. And I must say: I have probably never been to a better Christmas market - also because it featured a Lappish market where you could try "birch tree juice" (no, that's definitely no juice!). Funnily enough, the people there were actually from Arjeplog, Lapland, which is exactly where I am going for my internship. It's a small world after all :)

Julmarknad Göteborg (photo by
Antwerp by day...
... and by night

What an eventful year it's been! Christmas and New Year's was rather quiet and here we are - all of a sudden, it's 2015. I hope everyone has had a good start - and as always, feel free to leave comments or share.

Greetings from the Shire this time,

Your Hobbit

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