The “real” Germany and “I’ll be back”

Traveling to Ukraine, hardly learning German, getting certificate B1, visiting family, going to a campleader’s seminar and just being lazy – that’s how I was spending my time all those months I haven’t written anything in my blog. But I never forgot about it.

Right now I only want to share one impression from the place the mentioned above seminar took place at: a small town Niederkaufungen in the near of Kassel. Before coming to Germany I had a certain image of this country. But I’m living here already for many months and I have seen nothing of what I expected. And only this Niederkaufungen absolutely corresponds to my image from the past. At least somewhere Germany looks like my Germany!

niederkaufungen3 niederkaufungen1 niederkaufungen2

Tomorrow I’m leaving again, to the Balkans, so no more blog posts for at least two-three weeks. But I will come back, I promise! And with a lot of new topics to write about :)



A little bit of Russia in Germany: Potsdam and Alexandrovka

I found a city in Germany where I feel myself almost at home. About two weeks ago we have visited Potsdam. As it is the capital of the Brandenburg State, we had to go there for some documents in State Ministry of inner affairs.  Everything started in this Ministry. There were signs in Russian and they offered the handbooks about integration in German and Russian.

On the streets of Potsdam we met many times Russian speaking people that were the inhabitants of the city (naturally there were a lot of Russian tourists too). Some signs there were also in my language.

So we were not very surprised to discover a Russian village: Russische Kolonie Alexandrowka. The village is situated in the north of Potsdam and includes several Russian style houses, huge fruits garden and an orthodox church. The village has been built in 1826 by order of the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm III and named after the Russian emperor Alexander I. Till 1945 the families of Russian soldiers and their ancestors lived there. Now the Russian colony Alexandrovka is an architectural memorial site included in the UNESCO World Heritage.

So Russians were in Potsdam long time ago and no wonder that they still keep coming :) I would also like to stay living in this city full of history and beautiful sites.

The things that surprise me in Frankfurt (Oder)

I don’t know how it’s in other German cities but in Frankfurt on the Oder there are a lot of things that are very strange for me.  Here are some of them:

  • The trams go only every 20 minutes. After 6 pm some of them don’t work at all. On the weekend they go every 30 minutes. For not lazy people it’s easier and faster to walk.
  • The supermarkets close at 8 pm (only one in the center works till 10 pm). On Sunday everything is closed. When people go shopping if not after 8 pm or on Sunday? At least I always did like this in Ukraine…
  • People greet and say goodbye to other unknown people.
  • I’ve never met before so many people with the hair colored in red-pink-violet and with tattoos and piercings.
  • I hear Russian language very often (once even Ukrainian) though I’ve never spoken to any Russian speaker here.
  • The products are often cheaper than in Ukraine!
  • It is a problem to find green tea, especially in leafs, especially with some taste. I accidentally bought a package of the green tea with jasmine at one Chinese girl at the festival. I guess next time I will import it from Ukraine.
  • You can enter municipality, university and library freely. Nobody asks you for a document or a student card. You can attend any lecture.
  • There are almost no people on the streets, even in the evening or on the weekend.
  • There are no normal pavements! I break my legs every day.  Almost everywhere are the paver blocks, or the stones, or just the earth fill. They don’t think at all about the people! One can die on these streets!
  • Strange monuments and children playgrounds.
  • Frozen bread. Sausages in glasses. Pancakes in plastic packages… All food is just strange.

Hanse Stadt Fest – Bunter Hering

Last weekend there was a festival in Frankfurt (Oder) and Słubice. I don’t know why it was organized and why it has such a “herring” name. This was my first festival in Germany, so it was interesting to see. There were several stages with the bands playing various kinds of music. We were surfing from one stage to another hoping to listen to something nice, but nothing has interested us. There was also an amusement park for children from Berlin and A LOT of small shops with foods and drinks. Basically people were mostly eating and drinking all the time everywhere.

Russian shop

What surprised me the most was the fact that there are a lot of people in Frankfurt. Usually I meet few people in public transport or in supermarket, but almost no one on the streets. Even in the evenings or during weekend the streets are almost deserted. I have a feeling that people just hide in their homes and go out only to work or to the shop. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just not used to live in a small town. But the days of festival the people were everywhere.

We also visited the Kleist museum during the festival. It organized different events like the theater plays, a children orchestra, the dances of 18th century and so on.  So we found there something for entertainment :)

Summer 2012

It’s only the beginning of July but I feel like the summer has ended. All I usually do at summer I already did. I was in Crimea for few days visiting my friends. I led a workcamp “Garden of Senses” in Kharkov, end of May – beginning of June. I tried to be a campleader for the first time and without any preparations to this and it was fun though I would like my volunteer group being bigger and more active.

The most important summer event in Ukraine, Euro 2012, has ended as well. Not that I was very enthusiastic about the tournament or participated in it somehow but still I was waiting for this as many others. I’ve been several times at the fan-zone in Kharkov and watched the Dutch parade on the streets of my city. Kharkov really turned orange that days! It was funny to watch Dutchmen in their costumes taking photos with Ukrainians and Ukrainians, most of them seeing the foreigners for the first time in their lives, taking photos with the Dutch. And now the long process of preparations and carrying out the championship is over. Is there life after Euro? Will be there something else going on in Ukraine?

Now I’m in Frankfurt (Oder) – a small German town near the Polish border. The center is nice but the outskirts are quite depressing. And the weather is depressive as well most of the time. So I really feel that it is the end of this summer. And it means that soon I have to start to do something serious like working or studying or whatever… Everything is so depressing.