Where I Live

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Words and Images by Kate Bailey-Neale

I first moved to Germany on Erasmus. Heaving my bags containing my new life down the underground, observing the change of scenery on the plane and after some confusing conversations finally arriving at my destination on the train, I didn’t really think about the significance of what I was doing and or that a lot of change could be about to happen. I have now been here for two and a half years, left university in London for good and become an international student here. Getting student status wasn’t the simple transaction I hoped it to be, I had to pass a 4 hour German Exam, the DSH. On the fourth try I finally made it. I had met some great people, had a lot of cool experiences, and was very happy to finally become a ‘real person’ here.

I have lived in the same flat from day 1. Here I have learned a great deal about the German way to live, which I feel has made living better, prettier and less complicated. One of the major learning curves was to do with our Putzenplan (cleaning plan). It is an important part of our flat life. Following the Putzenplan well will give you a serious amount of respect from your flatmates.

Understanding Pfand is also important. Pfand is a deposit system for bringing back plastic or glass bottles. You buy the bottle with the drink and then when you return it to the supermarket you get the money back. In the early days this baffled me and I avoided it. It is now painful to think of how much money I must have thrown away. A common sight in a German park on a sunny day is a homeless man or woman with a trolley joyfully collecting bottles for pfand.

Sperrmüll is the german word to describe unwanted rubbish that is left outside the house to be taken away. It usually turns out to be rather nice pieces of furniture, chairs and tables in particular. Our flat is made up of a lot of this.

Some more things that I enjoy in my flat is the constant improvements to make things look and work better. Maybe this is because we are all studying design related subjects, but I suspect it is a German thing. We have a radio in our bathroom that turns on with the light (and scares people). Although we are a student flat everything works, or if not will get repaired fairly quickly. I’ve also learned how objects such as knifes and bikes can turn into great wall decoration. I have taken some photos to share my experience with you.

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