Turtles, Shots and Talk of Tasmania In A Bilingual Family

As my boyfriend and I were drifting off to sleep a couple of weeks ago I mentioned how when we finally make it to Australia in September this year it would be great to head to Tasmania. Startled, he asked ‘Tasmania is in Australia??’ This is not the usual question I get when the little island at the bottom of our great country comes out of my mouth. Either you’ve heard of it, and an inbred joke is coming, or you have no idea what I’m talking about. Confused, I asked ‘where did you think it was?’ ‘I don’t know,’ he responded, ‘i never realised vampires came from Australia.’ After a moment or two of trying to work out what the hell he meant, and at first questioning whether he was confusing the Tasmanian Devil (something else I was shocked he’d heard of) I worked out what he was referring to… Transylvania. Yes, the castle in Romania where Dracula lives. Definitely different from TAS-MAN-IA. It’s going to be a long time before he lives this one down.

Where Dracula ‘reportedly’ lives. No, it’s not in Tasmania.

This is one of my favourite things about being with someone who is from a completely different culture to me – he makes me laugh at things that before were just a normal part of my thought process and identity. And being around his parents is much of the same. His sister just says random English words and then i try to put them together as thought it’s a puzzle. It’s like being on a quiz show, and we get to use hand movements as an added bonus. Though the other night she did suddenly come out with ‘see you later alligator!’ as she was leaving. She was so proud of herself for remembering it we laughed together for a good few minutes.

Meanwhile, his parents more enjoy watching me do, or attempt to do, shots. We have a term in Australia – where you have a ‘face like a cat’s ass’ – and your whole face, i.e. eyes, cheeks and mouth, basically completely screw up towards the centre of your nose (do feel free to try it if you’re reading this in private, it’s quite an uncanny comparison!). That’s exactly what I look like when I do shots. And for a group of Russians who are used to vodka and whisky every 20 minutes I’m a constant source of entertainment for them while we all partake in the ritual. And then, after 5 the boy will step in and protect me from anymore as i start to feel woozy and hot and my legs begin to tingle. I’ve actually moved from being able to do 4 shots to 5 – my tolerance is increasing!!

Meanwhile we seem to find a common ground in speaking German to one another – I’m still not confident and while his mother can speak fluently his father can’t yet so it’s good to just say random words to one another and it makes sense, much like his sister with me. After dinner the other night, which I cooked for everyone – they had never tried stir-fry before and were amazed at how easy it was to make! – we sat around laughing at funny pictures of turtles that I found on my Facebook newsfeed. It really is the simple things that make a night when you’re on limited language terms.

This is funny in any language

But the love they’ve shown me since getting to know me has been clear despite our lingual differences. They seem much more keen to live in Australia than the boyfriend at the moment with his father extensively googling the beaches available in the country, and every night I get strange questions from them like, ‘what is your address at home so we can look it up on google maps and find out where you grew up’… it seems they’re as interested in the different culture in me as I am in them and should this continue to blossom, then his family accepting me without any Russian blood or the ability to speak any language they understand makes them a pretty wonderful bunch.

A Dedication To Frankfurt

 

Home is where the heart is

The bags were packed, the move has taken place, and in the space of a morning I am no longer a Frankfurt dweller. Residing in the apparently rival area of Offenbach for now, while I’m excited for what the future will bring in our eventual move to Stuttgart, my return to studies and some extensive travel in Australia and France in February, it was a little sad saying goodbye to the city I came to as a stop-gap but very quickly realised was the perfect home.

I’m going to miss so many things about Frankfurt; I’ll miss Sachsenhausen and all the bars within it offering 1 euro shots, karaoke, strange Pop and Balkan parties and endless hens and bucks nights and stumbling home from it all in the early hours of the morning. I’ll miss the cafes and restaurants in Bornheim that served me countless currywursts, schnitzels, chocolate ice creams and cocktails. I’ll miss the Apfelwein in all of it’s wonder, hot and comforting in the winter and cold and refreshing in the summer. I’ll miss the fantastic skyline that the locals take such pride in and surround with buildings of historical significance to make a wonderful contrast. I’ll miss the festivals every weekend for different countries that were in fact the same every time (Croatian festival! Want a wurst? American festival! Want a wurst? And so on…).

I’ll miss the convenient day trips that took me to Heidelberg, Wiesbaden, Cologne and Nurnberg to see some of Germany’s most beautiful sites within a few hours. I’ll miss being able to walk from my house on one side of the city to the other, with the love locks slowly popping up on the bridge in the middle. I’ll miss the forests that surround the city so closely and provided us with lovely summer days filled with space and relaxation (and which re-introduced me to cycling). I’ll miss the trains that took me straight to Prague in 5 hours, Bruges in 5, Paris in 4, Amsterdam in 4 and Basel in 3. And most of all I’ll miss the people I met who had such interesting stories and inspired me and taught me how important genuine friends are.

The famous skyline

It has been such a fantastic nine months and that time was responsible for turning what was once a feeling that I would like to live in Germany some day to the knowledge that this will be my long-term home. For that Frankfurt will always have a place my heart and should the opportunity ever arise to move back here those bags will be re-packed within seconds. While it wasn’t specific to Frankfurt, this was the place that taught me about German culture, introduced me to their language and while I continue to discover new things about the country almost daily this city will always be the place I learnt it all first.

To those considering a move to Frankfurt, I couldn’t recommend it enough. It gives you a brilliant taste of German life in a city small enough to work your way around quickly but big enough to give you entertainment, activities and restaurants that will make every weekend feel like you’re discovering something new. And along with all of this you have the rest of Europe right on your doorstep, something I hope never to take for granted.

Bis bald Frankfurt!

xx