Welcome to Heidelberg! – London to Frankfurt

Hello and welcome to a new blogpost! Hallo Leute, und willkommen zu einem neuen Blogpost!

We had to wake up at around 4’o clock – yes 4am in the morning- to get to the airport! The cab-driver was very friendly though, and drove us directly there. He said he was also a student by day, cab driver by night.

When we got to the airport it was kind of confusing – we stood in one boarding line before everyone was called over to another boarding line- at the end of this line we showed our passports, explained we didn’t have any suspicious stuff in our suitcases, and put the suitcase on a conveyor belt to be taken to its own plane.

We asked if there was any disability assistance at the airport, which there luckily was, as we needed to be able to sit together, instead of my mum sitting at the front of the plane with me at the back! Yup, our tickets had literally been like that. However, we were able to ask the cabin crew to change our seats so we could sit together at the back.

Then there was more checking- we went through a gate, showing our passports again, then to the conveyor belt where we took off or bags and coat, putting them in trays for inspection. While this was done we went through the metal detector – and mine beeped suggesting I had some metal on me. Still can’t tell whether it was my short white cane or the slightly metal clips in my hair 😉. Someone said that even their watches or glasses had set off the metal detector, and it wasn’t unusual to set it off. Basically all that happens when something metal is found, is that you take off your shoes and go into this small cabin-like thing, with your feet on two yellow footstep-areas. Then I raised my arms when they told me, and the mechanism must’ve scanned me to check for any metal, later which a lady whose job it probably was to be nice patted down my legs and arms, just to double check, saying it also worked as a massage. 😊
So, no metal on me, and we got through relatively quickly. We received the bags and coats, then went into the terminal waiting area, browsing the shops briefly on the way, where my first video was taken.

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I picked up a bottle of water and a newspaper at WH Smiths, my favourite bookshop and newspaper shop, to browse during the long wait for our flight to Frankfurt-Hahn airport. The flight started at 6:45.
The airport board is kind of confusing at the start, not to mention that it contains tiny glowing writing, which more looks like a picture than any kind of text – however we found a closer one that I walked right up to- and my mum explained how our specific flight slowly crept up the board until the actual time of boarding was shown.

It was a long wait, but we made it on the plane, and were allowed to sit together at the back near the engines! The flight itself was actually quick, under 1 hour apparently (yet it felt quicker because we brought the clocks forward to the local time in Germany (+1 hour from the UK).
My inner cloudspotter was also having a good time, as the video shows!
There it was that we landed at Frankfurt Hahn Flughafen.

OK. To be honest I still wasn’t really thinking ‘Oh wow, we’re actually in Germany!’ Obviously I knew we were (the flight over the Britissh Channel and everything) but it didn’t really hit me, even as we passed through the entrance marked Auskunft in German along with Arrival in English. More so when I actually spoke in German to the person at the arrival desk so we could show our passport!! We had arrived indeed.

And… then we had to go find our suitcase. This, as the video below suggests, was very hard, even for opticotypical observant Mummy!
Yeah, next time I’ll make my suitcase a bit more noticeable – maybe with bright tape strips, or a couple of stickers. Or maybe just not use black.

So we went through ‘Nothing To declare/zollfreie Waren’ (meaning you have no luggage to pay tax on) then we looked for the bus to take us from Frankfurt Hahn Flughafen to Heidelberg.
And yeah, it also hit me we were in Germany when I managed to ask the super nice bus driver where the bus was going in German. Luckily for my mum (and me) he also spoke English as well. We also spoke to some of the other passengers also going to Heidelberg- some of the other passengers were visiting friends and family there.
The bus journey took around another 2 hours- going through Mannheim, another city with a university. Listening to classical music, and a mixture of German and American pop-songs, we were soon there – although it rained lightly on the way- while back in Britain the weather was nice and sunny. Not for us – yet…
Finally we reached our destination- Heidelberg! I was so excited but we actually didn’t know at first which way to go. However we made our way to a shopping centre, with an Italian pizza and pasta place- our first stop.
Thing is, I’m kind of fussy with food- and I don’t like eating things unless I know exactly what’s in it. However we were in a line before I knew it and while my mum wanted a pizza and a cappachito, I wasn’t sure and chose something I thought I would like while zooming into a picture of the pastas menu on my phone.
However- it wasn’t what I would it would be- there’s melted cheese on the pasta and bits of broccoli, which dry baked cheese on top- the stringy bits also weren’t helping. Just want to offer a thankyou to the chef of that shop, as I tried to explain that I wouldn’t be able to eat it and asked in German for some seasoned rice instead, checking that it had no meat in it. Note to future self: listen to the other persons answers when I order something, and ask what’s in it.

After paying the chef and thinking about how not to repeat that mistake, we went out to the shopping centre – just stopping to take a picture in a hammock we found.
Then it was off to find the Holiday Inn – well, to try and find the Holiday Inn. We asked friendly pedestrians on the way, and found our hotel was roughly along the same road. On the way we passe the Heidelberg Print Media Academy, and another academy that proudly showed metrics of its solar panels (Sonnenanlagen).
Then I saw my first tram in Heidelberg – I’ve been videos of them, and there were also trams in Austria, but this was my first time encountering them in Heidelberg. People cross the tram lines like they cross the road, as the silver lines often run next to the main roads.

The traffic lights make a small beep, perhaps so people can locate where they are by sound. Unlike in London where there are black buttons to touch in order to activate the traffic light, the ones in German are yellow, marked with a hand, yet you press the button underneath. This button lightly vibrates when the light turns green, similar to London’s twirling cones at the bottom.
I’d heard that Germans were quite strict when it came to not crossing at the red light – apparently -‘beim Rot must du stehen, beim Grün kannst du gehen’. In reality, not everyone was incredibly strict with that rule, but hey, I’ll stay on the safe side.

We got to our hotel and had a look around. We’re on the third floor, from where we got quite a good view of the nearby tram station. I’m probably gonna use that when we go to the University of Heidelberg.
We had a little shop around, and went to two supermarkets – S-Check-in Center and Aldi- where we brought natural mineral water (ohne Kohelnsäure- without carbon dioxide- for a non-fizzy drink)- while my mum opted for the Sprüdel, which is fizzy.

There were some things I knew from home, such as Haribos, the originally German sweets, Madeleine ‘finger’ cakes, and Ritz biscuits – however others were a bit different from what I’m used to.
Looking at the receipt, we could give the bottes we brought back to the shop one they were finished- and get back 0.25 each bottle!  Giving back these bottles, called Pfandflashchen, is quite common in Germany. The system may even be introduced in the UK to increase recycling and save money on rubbish collection, as the bottles are used again instead of being thrown away, with a money incentive for the customer. Let’s see if we remember to bring our empty bottles back!

We also went to the Stadtbücherei – Heidelberg Library – where we and my mum grabbed some German children’s books and settled down to read- like we used to do when I was little- expect this time I was teaching my mum how to read (in German)! We read ‘Kleiner Bär, Kleiner Bär, wer siehst du da?’ and ‘Tiere ABC’ – both illustrated by Eric Clarke. ‘Kleiner Bar’ had the titular little bear encountering an animal, who saw another animal, who observed another, and so on …until the bear’s mother was staring us in the face! Learning animal names in German was interesting, and trying to pronounce their names was even more fun!

Incidentally, Eric Clarke is the same author and illustrator who wrote the Very Hungry Caterpillar – one of my most read books when I was around three – also with a German version called Kleine Raupe Nimmersat. The hungry caterpillar also made a ‘cameo’ in the Tiere ABC book, in the ‘R’ page.

We also read ‘Mach schnell, Willi Wiburg!’ by Gunilla Bergstorm, about a little boy called Willi who needs to go to school, but gets distracted by different things in his room.
Deciding to practice my German reading skills, we filmed both of these. You can find them down below with English subtitles on the video and in the description. I think I did pretty good!

(Oh yeah, while reading ‘Kleiner Bär’ a little German girl asked us if she could have my mum’s chair! 😊 I told her she couldn’t use our chairs, but she could get another from behind us. As she played with a magnetic alphabet board behind us, we continued reading.)

I still like reading kids books in German – I think its because I love stories, and with a young child’s book you can find out what kind of stories the next generation use to learn to read- and of course, anyone learning that language! Reading’s fun, and some of the good younger kid’s books have that perfect mixture of being short enough to understand in the other language, with potentially important words that you need to know in every day – while being narratively exciting enough to hold attention even when you know what’s going to happen at the end… or you think you do! As a future dual-language writer, I think I wanna start by translating some of my old kid’s stories into German.

Though older children’s books have that on a larger scale, with more challenging vocab and more interesting stories. We left the library and I managed to find a German version of a book in one of my favourite series – Warrior Cats by Erin Hunter! Add to my ever-growing German book collection… and I’m going to read it at nightime!

Then we went back to the hotel and after Skyping my family back home, my mum fell asleep after our many adventures out. It was getting late.

I typed this blog post and watched a German TV show, ‘Plotzlich arm, plotzlich reich’. It seemed like a version of ’Rich house, poor house’. a show that we watch at home.

Next time… We’ll go to Heidelberg University!

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Going to Germany!!

After years of studying the German language (and still not being entirely sure that I’d be understood by German people) I’m actually going to Germany for the first time! (I did go to Austria with my school but yeah, first time in Germany.) And specifically to the beautiful university town of Heidelberg, where I’m going to be studying next year.

These last few months have been taken up with preparation for my year abroad; for example, filling out an Erasmus form to apply for support I will need as a visually impaired student, filling in all the other forms (Germany loves its beaurocracy… as might any other country if you’re moving or studying abroad there) finding out the modules I’ll study within Germanistik im Kulturvergleich, wondering what things will actually be like when I get there…
That’s why I’m going for a quick test run before the actual study abroad date. The last time I travelled with my family was when I was younger, to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, so I really didn’t know what you needed to do to prepare for a flight.

Here’s that bit.
Things you need to do before travelling (that I didn’t know before): (list of 6 items)

  1.  Figure out what you’re going to do when you get there!
    This could be the most fun part, checking out different activities and opportunities to do things! I’ll definitely write more about what we do once we do it, but for now I’ll just say we’re going to the university, to different food shops around Heidelberg to sample the local cuisine, and to a performance in Heidelberg’s Literature Festival!
  2.  Find out (roughly!) where everything is.
    I used Google Maps to find some places – for instance the university, the international office, and the hotel.
    However I also used websites for local things – because not everything has been saved on Google Maps, particularly in Heidelberg. For example you can’t use Street Maps as consistently as you could in larger cities, for example Berlin, because not enough pictures have been taken and uploaded in other parts of Germany. However, there are enough in Heidelberg to navigate through different parts of the city that I can’t wait to visit for real!
  3.  Book the airport tickets.
    In case things don’t go to plan, I won’t say the names of my airports till after we go, but I will say we are getting onto a different airport than the one we’re getting off – both in England and in Germany. Unfortunately, we only discovered this AFTER we booked the bus that’ll take us to one of the airports… so my mum needed to re-book them.

Also we will have to wake up extremely early to be able to get there in time, which I realised by checking the time of departure, so always check the times of the flights there and back. It’ll be alright on the night… I hope.

  • Change your currency to the local currency. In my case that’ll be Euros.
  • I withdrew money from my bank, and I and my mum searched for a shop to convert it to Euros. Interestingly, different places or post offices may give you different rates, even though a Google search told me that the current rate was 1.13 Euros for every 1 pound. This may be because they can charge you more money – even within shops they may give you a lower rate of pound/Euro conversion if you pay less pounds, but a higher, better rate of pound/Euro conversion if you pay more pounds.

    Eventually that was sorted out though, and I got some Euros!

    I noticed the different pattern of bars on the side, with gaps in between each group of bars. This is so that blind and visually impaired people can tell apart different types of Euros by the feel of them. Also the 20 Euro note is blue, with the 100 Euros being orange and the 5 Euros being grey.

  • 5. Pack everything you’re going to bring with you.
  • I’ve been told that bringing too many suitcases may not be the best idea, as even if you’re travelling together they don’t come through the conveyor belt at the same time, so we’re going to try and fit all our luggage into one suitcase rather than wait at the airport. I’m also bringing my rucksack to pack things in if that isn’t enough space. Thinking of bringing some German books, my laptop, and a couple of other surprises that I hope I can share with you later!
    6. Practice the language of the country you’re going to (even if that’s just ‘Hello!’ and ‘where is the train station?’)
    Which I didn’t as much. Sorry. I thought I could German, meaning that I didn’t practice as much, preferring to play games (in German, though!) That said, once we get there, I will actually have to translate for my mum! Which is… cool, (yay, for once I can do something she needs), scary and potentially embarrassing, (If I get anything wrong we’re screwed),  humbling and interesting (so many kids have to teach their parents the language of the country they’re in… I’m just doing it on a non-permanent basis) but mostly awesome!

    That’s definitely not the end of the list by a long shot, and though I may sound prepared on here, there’s a lot happening behind the scenes that I’m just learning. So hopefully my first blog series will be detailing our adventures in Heidelberg!

    Bis dann, tchüss!!

     

    Video: Heidelberg in 3 Minuten by The Travellers (auf Deutsch)

    Video: Germany: One day in Heidelberg by T&A Travel Vlogs (in English)

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4B0ox1xNTyg}

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    Deutsche sehbehinderte YouTuber BlindLife and Ypsilon!!!

    So I haven’t been posting in this blog for a while, partly because I’ve been posting in my other blog, Access The Arts to celebrate and educate about Disability History Month!!

    This is a month to raise awareness about and recognise the achievements of people with disabilities, both in the past and the present. Also there was International Day of People with Disabilities (Internationaler Tag der Menschen mit Behinderungen) on the 3rd December!

    Every year the month has a different theme, and this year’s theme is art.
    When I hear the word art, I think of paintings, drawings, and sculptures yes – but also of writing and music, theatre and film – and other new types of technology that are already watched and loved by millions of people around the world online –for example, videos!

    Therefore I’ve decided to review the YouTube channels of two of my favourite visually impaired German YouTubers – BlindLife and Ypsilon!

    (In truth, I wanted to write about both of their channels on this blog when I first discovered BlindLife last year, when I was trying to find German people who were visually impaired like me. However time constraints at uni and the potentially daunting prospect of translating YouTube videos partially deterred me… until now. Finally! Although Disability History Month is over, I said I’d still keep updating.)

    Seriously, go check out their stuff. I’ll translate some videos when I have time! 😉

    References: (Ypsilon)

    Ypsilon ist eine sehbehinderte Studentin, die in Koln studiert. Sie hat seit 4 Monate ihre Blindenfuehrhundin, die Mo heisst.

    1. Leben mit Blindenführhund (Life with a Guide Dog series- 5th)
    2. Was man uber Blindenführhunde wissen muss (What you have to know about guide dogs)
    3. #kaumzuglauben -DISKRIMINIERUNG-Mein Statement (#unbelievable – Discrimination: My statement’)
    4. Blind durch Rom – Rom Vlog (Blind through Rome – a Rome Vlog): Ypsilon’s holiday in Rome
    5. Der Umgang mit der einigen Behinderung (Interview mit Tobias Michl)
    6. Barrierefreie Literature und Filme (Interview mit Professor Thomas Khalish)
    7. ‘5 Dinge, die ich nicht wusste, weil ich sehbehindert bin’
    8. Spiegel Online article about Ypsilon
    9. Studieren mit eine Seheinschränkung – geht das?

    References: BlindLife:

    Erdin, auch als BlindLife genannt, hat turkische und deutsche Herkunft, macht gern Taekwondo und dreht gern Videos, die Technologie und andere Hilfsmittel sowie Leben mit einer Sehbehinderung umgehen.

  • Hilfsmittelmesse des BSVH in Hamburg
  • Autofahren für Blinde und Sehbehinderte – MEIN TRAUM WIRD WAHR – BLIND DRIVER (Driving for blind and visually impaired people- My Dream Comes True)
  • Funf positiven Dinge uber meine Sehbehinderung – (Five positive things about my visual impairment)
  • 5 Blinde wollen raus aus Hamburg! (Five blind guys wanna get out of Hamburg!) – featuring Erdin and Co.
  • Wie bedienen Blinde/Sebehinderte ihr Smartphone? – How do blind and visually impaired people use their smartphone?
  • Iphone X Unboxing und erste Probleme mit VoiceOver
  • In eine neue Ort unterwegs
  • Blind im Tesla Model X mit Alex – Blind in Tesla car Model X with Alex.
  • Es ist mein Geburtstag!!

    It’s my birthday!!! Just wanted to make this mini post to thank all my followers here, and over at my newly created website for Disability History Month (DHM), AccessTheArts as well! (Those curious among you AccessTheArts readers actually crossed over, and thanks so much for that. Welcome to this blog of German learning and fun! 🙂 )

    While I need to focus on this blog too(and way more importantly, my homework), I will make a crossover post about two of my favourite German YouTubers – BlindLife and Ypsilon!!! So stay tuned for that!

    I’m thinking of crossing over a few more things from AccessTheArts (ATA) as well, such as the way you can go to the menu and scroll down to see all posts in that menu. And having a header image in all posts.

    Inspired by searching around for the perfect theme for ATA-DHM, I made bit of changes to this one, including:

    • The theme has been changed- I think it looks a bit neater now.
    • The body text is in the font Vollkorn – thought it appropriate for this German-themed blog to have a German font, even if it does mean wholegrain.
    • The colours around here are German-flag inspired in the Schwarz-Rot-Gold tricolours. Red for the top bar, yellow for the main body, and the text is black. I think a page-border may be needed, but until then it’s looking good in my opinion.

    However, I know I need to make this place easier to navigate. Even I get lost in this blog when I use it, and I created it. Hmm…

    Frohe Geburtstag zu mir! – (und zu jemandem, der heute ein Geburtstag hat.)

    Daily Prompt: Simmer

    via Daily Prompt: Simmer

    Because I’m simmering with ideas but not enough time to do them.
    Sometimes boiling and the metaphor continues with
    ideas evaporating seemingly. Like steam or clouds.
    However as every cloud enthusiast knows
    Water doesn’t disappear, just changes form.
    Make steam into an acronym or clouds into that computer storage thing
    in your mind as you read this if you like.
    I’m thinking of the stratus clouds, apparently moody and unenjoyable but quick to clear.
    to bright skies. Anyway I’m off writing.
    Bye.

    (this didn’t happen, did it?)