I stepped in dog shit last night on the way home, and cursed as I clambered in the door in socks and had to do a major clean-up job. This is a first for me. Considering the amount of dogs in Berlin, there’s not that much dog shit, compared to Paris or Budapest. Or perhaps it’s that the owners here are more responsible and mostly pick up after their pooches. However, our street is a haven for those insomniacs that take the dog out for a walk in the middle of the night, and they are sure as hell not picking up.

 
For the first time this week, I tried Club Maté, which is a drink originally from Argentina, a sort of high-caffeine tea that they are very fond of (helps them tango, presumably). The drink we get here is a bottled mineral not unlike commercial Iced Tea – it tastes like a cross between tea & lemonade. I went dancing with a friend, and en route, we stopped to hear a band who were busking in a sort of sunken plaza below street level. They could be viewed from lots of different points above and below and they keep a huge crowd dancing along with them. I went to buy a beer for my friend and got a Maté for myself. This magical elixir kept me dancing along until 4am, when we walked home in the dawn, with the birds out in full force.

 
Another first this week was that I was interviewed for the school newspaper. This came about through another friend, who I work with in the Ger-O-Mat cafe. It’s a café run by students and faculty members, exceptionally cheap, and it relies on volunteers to keep in going. I found the café by chance one wintry day when I could no longer stand the din of the canteen and the ridiculous rules attached to the library (you must take off coat/jacket, you may not bring in a bag of any sort, including a laptop cover, you must use a locker, and obviously you can’t eat or drink in the library, though they do just about allow a bottle of water). It’s actually got a sign for the café, opposite the library, but it looks like a poster for second-hand 1970’s furniture. It’s furnished with just that, hence it’s a comfy haven for people like me who like to study and lounge in fake leather with a cuppa at the same time. I volunteered at the beginning of the semester, and just love it. It’s a wonderful place to study anyhow, most people going in there want to read – I could say it’s like a reading room, but that sounds way too formal. The people who frequent it are very often those who volunteer there anyhow. In between reading and writing, we have long chats about everything. My job is to make sure there’s coffee made, enough chocolate bars on display, cups washed, a flask of boiling water for tea. I work from 2-4pm, squeezed between two lectures and I get paid either 4 euro or the same value in coffee and chocolate.

 
Anyhow, a friend at the cafe asked if I’d be interested in being interviewed for the school newspaper, and I said I’d be happy to do it. I was thinking of the UCD paper, which comes out weekly? Monthly? Whatever, I know it’s not the New York Times, but is usually filled with little articles about Erasmus students’ interesting experiences. Matthias got in touch and we made a time for him to come over and interview me at home. He explained that the magazine (not newspaper!) only comes out twice a year, and they usually have a theme, for instance last time was “Borders”, and it was all about students stories involving crossing borders. This time it was about “Going Forth” – so they felt I was a good candidate. We sat on the balcony, and along came a photographer (!) to get a few pictures. I made tea and we then had about an hour of Q & A, in which I tried with difficulty to explain my life, and how I got to this point. As Germans, I think they both had a hard time understanding a life without a foregone trajectory to follow. I had no difficulty in answering, but each time I did, I felt as if I left so much unsaid, as there simply wasn’t time. By the end of our interview, I couldn’t remember what I said, because telling your life’s narrative in German is a job in itself, without recalling what you actually said and how you put it. However, I do get to okay the final copy and see it before publication (the photos too!), but when I looked at the sample copy he gave me from last Semester, I realised that it’s more like a glossy magazine than a newspaper, so I do hope I come across all right. It’s so funny how vain we are, did the photos make me look like an old bat? Did I sound conceited? Completely crazy? Barry pointed out that the Germans will find it interesting either way, and nobody in Ireland will be able to read it anyhow. I’m apparently allowed a couple of copies of it when it appears, so will post something on it then, and how I feel about my First Exposé.

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