What is this blog all about?

The main purpose of this blog is to give an overview of the things I do, in my everyday life, in order to improve my English. Since I am a very lazy person, I mostly read, and watch movies, and do things which make it possible for me to improve my vocabulary, my grammar and my accent without getting bored... So this blog is going to be about the books I read, the movies I watch, and some other things which I find relevant (or not)...

I hope you'll like it! Don't hesitate to leave comments if you have any suggestions concerning what I should write about!!

dimanche 19 décembre 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like christmas

When it's the 19th of December, you're alone and far from home, and yet you feel a sudden urge to turn on all the lights, light all the candles, grin like a looney and call everyone you know to tell them you love them, I think it's a sure sign.

Christmas is coming.


vendredi 17 décembre 2010

Living in a Winter Wonderland

Oh man. I'm slowly defrosting on my bed, and my fingers are still numb from the coldness outside. I did nothing at all yesterday, so today I figured, it doesn't matter if it snows, I'm going into town. I'm a tough polar bear. I'm so hot I never get cold. Something like that. Didn't quite work out, and I ended up in Starbucks, hugging my white chocolate mocha as if it were my true love come back from the war. Now that I come to think of it, it is very possible that white chocolate mocha's my true love. Anyway.

I did nothing at all yesterday, except for chatting with my sisters on Skype (I love Skype. I love Skype and white chocolate mochas) and I talked to them about my new appartment, and my sister F said that sharing a flat was often awkward. You can count on my sister F to find the exact, perfect word. AWKWARD is what it is. And fun. But also awkward. So here are my top 5 awkward things about the first days you spend in a new flat. May not be the most christmas-y or the most refined and ladylike post ever, but hell.

1. Food. It's awkward having everyone know what you eat. I decided this time I would only ever eat my meals in the kitchen, because I need to socialize, and because it's going to help me not gain 10 pounds (because when in the kitchen, I tend to get nervous and think things like "I'm sure they think I eat all the time. I'm sure they noticed the lack of greens in my diet, I'm sure they JUDGE me. Because obviously, my flatmates have nothing better to do with their time than watch my diet)... But the amount of question it raises is staggering. Do I cook just for me, do I make enough for the others as well, even though we're not eating together, do I knock on their door and tell them I've made some food, or do I leave people alone? Awkward.

2. Laundry. Now, here, in this appartment, the wire-thingy on which you hang your clothes to dry is located in the kitchen. This is a problem for underwear-wearing people, like me. I generally solve this problem by hanging things in my closet, except, obviously, I don't have a closet, because my room contains... well a bed, and nothing else. So I opened up a cardboard box, and made a nice little underwear tree, that I hid behind my bedroom door. It looked comical. And slightly embarrassing. But it's already disappeared, as if nothing had ever been there.

3. The passive-agressive quality of washing the dishes. Because I'm fine with washing the dishes in the sink when I wash my own dishes. I don't think my roommates are sloppy, and I'm very happy for them to leave a few plates in the sink. I'm no clean freak (understatement of the century), and it's all perfectly OK. However, I have noticed in the past, that people tend to understand you washing their dishes as a message to wash their own dishes in the future. It's a little bit awkward.

4. Getting up late in the morning. Getting up at all. In fact, my problem, I think, is that I'm always trying to pretend I'm a pretty princess that doesn't ever sleep and that looks fresh as a rose at all times. And eats healthy food and gets up at 6 every morning to go jogging in the snow. So when I open my left eye at 11:30, and figure it's time to roll off my bed, looking like I've been trampled by a horse, you better hope there's no one in the kitchen. Worse of all is when there's someone LURKING in the kitchen (like I do), sitting at the table and silently drinking some silent coffee. Awkward.

5. Music. Ok, in our case here, it seems pretty straightforward. I know what they like and don't like, they know I'm the folk/pop kind of person. BUT: can I play a CD in the kitchen while making cookies? Do they hear my music when I play it in my room? More importantly, do they hear me laughing out loud when watching Craig Ferguson alone in my room? Awkward again.

Anyway. Here you are. Ever experienced flat-sharing awkwardness yourself, reader? By the way, I hope you like the pictures in this post, absolutely nothing to do with anything, but I took them here over the last few days, so I figured I might as well post them.

lundi 13 décembre 2010

It's a kind of magic

Something happened today. It was amazing. You know how you always wish your life could be a musical? You don't? You know who else doesn't like musicals? TERRORISTS!

Sorry. Didn't mean that. Anyway. You know how I always wish my life were a musical? Well, today, I walked into an English bookshop in Cologne, feeling a little lonely and frozen to the bone, and the guy told me "can I help you" and I said "yes, I'm looking for some Victorian poetry". (Now, I don't really know why I said that, probably related to so much Charlotte Brontë over the last few weeks).

The man at the counter proceeded to take me on a tour of his whole bookshop, looking for something that might be relevant, and told me about his favourite poet. He asked why I was so interested in Victorian poetry and I said, well, I don't really read poetry, and I figured maybe I should try to broaden my landscape a little bit. Then we started talking about English Folk music, because I had seen a Laura Marling album on one of his shelves, and he told me to sit down, and some of his Scottish friends came over, and he started playing folk tunes on his guitar* and it was all very lovely.

I did ask if I could possibly move in, but his answer being noncommittal, I decided I'd better get a move on, and went away. It was all very romantic, and it involved a Scottish couple. I no longer feel lonely, and I'm pretty sure the cold part can be arranged with the help of a nice bowl of tomato soup.

So, here's to the awesome English bookshop in Cologne.

* It was actually a ukulele. But somehow, it doesn't quite fit. The word "Ukulele" in itself is enough to destroy the whole romanticism of this whole story. Still, I had to set the record straight. Please, note that I have no personal romantic interest in the guy from the English bookshop, who is married to a Russian woman.

samedi 11 décembre 2010

So many possibilities

I'm in Cologne, reader! For real! I moved in! \o/

So here are 5 things that I love about my new appartment, and 5 things that slightly worry, or worried me.

1. Worrying: my roommate's e-mail the day before I arrived, suitcase already packed and all: "You are aware, of course that the room is not furnished?!" I wasn't.

1. Cool: my roommates (N and I) are very helpful and provided a blanket and a matress for my hopeless self. (Yes, for my hopeless self. I played it Jane Eyre style the whole week through. I read Jane Eyre again, and it's still as good as ever. I especially enjoyed the part where she said mother nature would have to provide her with lodging free of charge. I could rely... ok, right, I'm overdoing it again, now...)

2. Worrying: The heater doesn't really work, and I'm freezing... my... bottom... off. (Actually, apparently, it's not that the heater doesn't work, but that there is, litterally, no isolation whatsoever.)

2. Cool: I'm actually OK since yesterday's trip to Ikea. I bought a nice warm blanket and I slept much better last night. I nearly never came out of the Ikea Köln alive, reader. I might have died in there. I went back in to eat köttbullar once I had paid for everything, and I had my blanket with me, and I figured, of course, I can get to the exit directly through the restaurant. I couldn't, and had to go back to the checkout counter. I ran through the whole Ikea again, explained my situation to the security manager, and looked absolutely ridiculous (and like an evil blanket-thief, as well. Blanket-thieves are the worst kind there is. Despicable really). BUT I did manage to get out, with my blanket and all, and now I have a nice cozy room, with a bed and curtains, and life is beautiful.

3. Worrying: There's a cow's head on a stick in the garden. One of them skeleton heads. And its horns are painted bright orange. I am slightly worried by this. I think anyone would be, really. It is a slightly worring fact, by all accounts.

3. I haven't found the bright side to having a dead cow's head on a stick in your backyard, but I'll keep you informed. Meanwhile, let me mention my cool roommates again (I cooked for all of us yesterday evening (ha ha. I the roomate. Not I me. Ok, for the sake of clarity, we'll call him Ing)... where was I? Yes : Ing cooked for all of us yesterday, and we all seem to be getting along really well). Also worth mentioning in the cool category : though really cold, my room is very pretty, with little golden things painted in the corners, and real floorboards. I love my room.

4. Worrying: My roommates asked me yesterday if I had any plans for the evening. I did not. I do not have plans. They have an actual word for it in German, "Planlos" (Planless, obviously, though I never heard it used in English and they use it a lot in German. Mostly in my presence. Somehow).

4. Cool: No plans = an infinite choice of possibilities. So I'll just be not lazy for once, and maybe go for a drink and have a look at the christmas markets (and eat apple-sauce and drink some glühwein), and then maybe I'll go to the movies. I'd like to see Tangled, and I figure it's OK to watch animation in something else than the original version.

5. Worrying: I'm a little roommate-shy. I'm catching myself not getting out of my room when there's someone in the kitchen, and I keep checking everything I say twice before saying it out loud, and end up staying silent.

5. Cool: I know I am roommmate-shy, it's OK to be like that for the first two day, so I'll just get used to things and remember that if anything I want to say does not bear to be thought about twice (that's not English, I know, but you get my meaning anyway), I'd actually better stay silent. Maybe I should do that more often even in French... And as for roommate shyness, I just now went to the kitchen to have a coffee, and my problem is nearly solved. Life's schön.

So basically : some freaky points, but the cool side is winning by far, and I can't wait to know a little more about the city and to go have one more look around this afternoon. I think maybe I'll go take a walk along the Rhein as well, though I have no idea if it's more a "take a walk along the Rhein and be a pretty princess" area or rather a "take a walk in the industrial port and get murdered" area. I'll keep you informed.