Letters from Oldenburg, Germany 1.2: A Good Week

12th December, 2010

Hi Everyone πŸ™‚

It’s been a strangely wonderful week πŸ™‚ Things happen here the way they are supposed to. Traffic lanes, bike paths, pedestrian paths. There are so many forms which need other forms but everything is organised and with the help of someone they assigned to help me out who knows German, things are moving slowly but smoothly. Germans also clear the footpaths in front of their own houses and shops. So even when it was snowy it was easy to walk around without fear of slipping on ice. The first two days were cloudy and foggy with older snow still frozen on the ground. Then it snowed for the next 2-3 days. And yesterday and today it has been clear-skies. All the ice everywhere has melted and evaporated. It’s all dry. This evening I went out and on my walk to and from the place where I met some friends I looked at the moon and stars in awe. There are so many here! Oldenburg cannot be accused of light pollution. All its residential lights are white (not the yellow-orange colour I hate so much) and pleasant. The winter sky was Black! It was so beautiful I was surprised no one else was looking. The streets were empty by 8pm. Of course Sundays everything is closed anyway but to all those who worry, let me inform you that the police here are so job-less that they catch bike-riders who use the wrong side of the road and those who happen not to have lights on their bikes because nothing more criminal ever happens in this town. So I hear it’s absolutely safe to walk around as late as you need to.

Living with my colleague in her small study has been progressively better. She had 3 cats when I arrived and one was sick. She had been on holiday when I arrived so the house hadn’t been cleaned of cat-smells for a while. But her cat fell sick and on Wednesday it had to be put down. As I’ve never had a pet I couldn’t empathise but I could see how shattered she was about it. The other two cats still seem distressed by the third one’s absence.

I also went to see a flat. I need to see 2 more before I decide and move out of here (I’m writing from my laptop which is why the Ys and Zs are still in place :)). I like Germans in general. They are friendly and nice people. They aren’t friendly in the same way as the Scots though. But I can’t pin point what I find different apart from the accents. It could be hair colour. There are so many more blondes here. But maybe it’s also that Oldenburg is so much smaller than even Edinburgh so they’ve got what you could call a ‘Ku-gramam’ (small community) feel to them. Have I mentioned that half the people I know here are vegetarians? It’s quite surprising given my dad’s experience of orange juice and chips for 6 weeks here in Germany around twenty years ago. It is definitely a new trend. I’m told that the educated young population is realising the negatives of non-vegetarianism; how they treat animals before they are killed, how it is bad for the environment and health. They change over and feel very strongly about it. But when I asked my non-vegetarian colleague she said that vegetarians here have become moral-snobs and tend to be less friendly than ‘normal’ people. She pointed out that Hitler himself was a vegetarian! That, I didn’t know!

My work is slowly beginning. My supervisors and colleagues are very friendly and understanding so I’ll be sorted before there can be any pressure. A cold is going around in the lab but I’ve been drinking hot water and tea – it’s on its way out. I’m starting to read The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Overall, things here are peaceful and good. Hope things with you are good too. Write when you can πŸ™‚

Best wishes


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