It started with Leipzig

One of my favourite things about packing up and moving to a new place is finding gems from the past. Whilst sorting through old notebooks, I found my diary from my and Lydia’s trip to Leipzig in 2012. We’d travelled to this part of Germany for several exchange programmes during school and in our last year of A-levels decided to go back by ourselves. If you want a good laugh, here is the diary entry from that trip. As much as I wanted to use brackets to immediately explain myself, I’ve resisted and instead decided to add a note at the end.

“29.08.12

On the plane with Lydia and excited to get going. We’ve already arranged our trains and hostels, just need to put plans into practice. Can’t wait to see Germany again. I already feel overwhelmed and inspired.

At hostel now, very quaint and sweet. Had a glass of rosé and some of Lydia’s currywurst. Spoke some German. Not met anyone yet but exchanged some friendly smiles. Looking forward to Leipzig having mastered the tram system.

Up early to head to Leipzig. Read up on some German history on the train. Feeling happy. In bahnhof, mastered the German train station.

Arrived in Leipzig midday and went straight to our hostel. Couldn’t get in so I rang the owner and had to speak German.

Met Clemens at Augustusplatz and catched up with each other. Went to a shisha bar in the evening. Lovely shisha and beer! Met a girl and went to a bar. Quite a late night but fun. She was quite opinionated but still a good night!

Went to the Bachmuseum and wandered around the city. Met more people and even our old exchange partners and their friends.

Typical me, we danced and drank far too much and I was sick in the hostel.

The next day we explored Schumannhaus and Mendelhaus and went to a party with Clemens and met some more interesting people.

Björn, a lovely German boy, who sounded very Swiss but insisted he was a Leipzigian. Loves football and wants to be an English sport teacher.

Paul was a dancer and taught me some waltz and tango and spoke German with me.

Now we’re heading home and both a bit sad. Can’t wait to come back for my 5th year. Leipzig has a university so who knows? Maybe I can study here”.

Although I grimace and laugh at my poor grammar, unimaginative vocabulary, and boastful comments about mastering public transport, I am fascinated by how infatuated with Germany I was and how those first trips to Leipzig have lead me to be living here now. I owe that to my and Lydia’s year 8 decision to choose German over Spanish. I owe it to my parents for funding and encouraging my trips to Leipzig and to my teachers for teaching our small class and allowing me to be the only one to finish school with a German A-level.

On the next page after this diary entry was a to-do list:

– personal statement draft

– plan for extended project

– sort our uniform, stationary

– learn vocab for German and French

– finish Star of the Sea

I find this list quite symbolic of my last year at school: applying to universities, studying a lot of the time. I found the middle point quite amusing as I’m not sure what I meant by sort out uniform. Initially I read it as a gentle reminder to keep my shirt tucked in and tie properly tied but I think it meant buy some uniform.

Despite being somewhat relieved that my teenage rampages have calmed down, upon routing out the photos from that trip a distinct feeling surfaced: We were care free and full of passion. Nearly everyone in our year went to university immediately and I remember how excited Lydia and I were to start studying music and German respectively. We bounced about that city from music shop to composer’s home with German phrase books at hand.

Thank you Lydia for accompanying me on my German adventure.

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