Up until this week, there wasn’t a sign of Christmas anywhere, not unless you count the sad looking Last-years-Christmas-Trees hanging out of the roof of Sudkreuz S-bahn station.  Then, in one go, you could see fairy lights appearing on balconies, menorah candles in windows, Santa hats for sale in the Euro shops.  There just happened to be a dip in temperature, and we woke the last few mornings to heavy frost, which made it all seem more real and seasonal.  I was foolish enough to drop in to IKEA today to buy something, and there, wow, was a whole department devoted to dinky Christmas decorations, raffia reindeers, candles, red and green as far as the eye could see, and anxious looking people trying to stuff more things into their trolleys.  But of course December is just around the corner, and the last couple of weeks will gallop until we’re all lifting our gluhwein and singing “Stille Nacht”.  This will be the first non-traditional Christmas I’ve had in a very long time.  Of course, there will be all the fun of the city covered in decorations, so we will have a traditional Christmas of sorts, but I’m not sure what we’ll eat.  I’d really like to eat out, but it turns out that Christmas is like Sunday here – some restaurants and all the shops close, though the transport keeps running.  One great feature is that all the museums are open on 25th and 26th, even though they are officially bank holidays.  According to various websites, there are places open, you just have to do a bit of rooting around, and Christmas closing doesn’t last for long.  All the young people come running back from home as soon as Boxing Day is over.

This is a busy patch for me.  The reality of taking more subjects than I actually need is coming home to roost.  In the next week, I have to do two powerpoint presentations, and a number of smaller submissions. The presentations are considered so normal here, and I can see what a good practice it is to stand up and present to your own peers (who are all rooting for you anyhow).  I spent the whole of last weekend putting together the biggest powerpoint, and learned from my friend Ana how to add pictures, which makes the whole thing fly.  Now I have to practice like an actor, until I have it off pat.  Initially, I was wondering if I could possibly fill the time – 30 minutes seemed like an awfully long time to speak – now I’m thinking it may not be enough time.  I have to work hard this weekend on a piece about Microcredit, but I’m looking forward to that – an utterly fascinating subject.  I’ll get in the usual stash of LIDL chocolate – I have Therese Mitchell to thank for that habit. It’s the best lift you can get when you’re studying, and, unlike tea/coffee, you can sleep afterwards.  When I was working last weekend, I began to wonder if I’d be able to get through all this, and had a dose of Imposter Syndrome, thinking I was about to be Found Out.  I do wonder about the guys who came before me, back in 2010 – did they have moments of doubt?  Well they were all only 20 when they came, so worry isn’t really a feature at that stage of your life.  I guess once I get the first (and biggest) presentation out of the way, everything else will follow.

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