Poor life choices and terrible ideas

They say it’s easier to write entertainingly about failure than about success, and you may have noticed me wholeheartedly embracing this concept in my blog. That’s not about to change; this one is all about the various acts of idiocy committed by myself and others in my last week in Berlin, as well as at the Port Eliot festival. For some context on the Berlin stuff, see my two related posts: Ich habe déja vu and Backstage Berlin.
For this week, here are some things that I can tell you from experience are Bad Ideas. 

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Backstage Berlin: Cultural exploits with EXCLUSIVE CAMEO by Sir Elton John

In order to justify this linguistically enriching but gratuitous trip to Berlin, I’ve been devouring culture like it’s going out of fashion. As I did the sightseeing thing last time I was here, I like to think my recent activities come under the heading of “cool stuff the locals do,” though I admit that this is an ambitious goal; your average Berliner is infinitely cooler than I could ever aspire to be. In spite of that, here’s a round-up of the latest in German entertainment, according to me

Note: I procrastinated until I had an excessive amount to write about again… oops! Fear not though, it’s at least 90% photos.

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Ich habe Déjà Vu

My life feels a bit like a series of TV reruns at the moment, as I’ve come back to home, Oxford and Berlin within the space of a month. These various returns have been wonderful in very many ways but, at times, the rude intrusion of reality into the much-anticipated fairyland of Home has left me feeling a touch bereft, especially as I’m still missing my Montpellier life and friends. The term “reverse culture-shock” gets bandied about a lot, and I think it springs from the strangeness of realising that your expectations of home were just as inaccurate as those of your temporary destination. Philosophising aside, here’s a rundown of what I’ve been up to… 

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Learn with Lyster: A brief summary of my year abroad life-lessons

So I was going to do a “Ten Year Abroad Commandments” style piece, and then halfway through I realised that
a) Everyone and his dog has already done one of those
b) They are nearly always i) preachy ii) kinda obvious
c) I already overuse numbering in this blog (see above).

The upshot of this is that I’m just going to write a super-casual list of Rowan’s Top Tips for Life Especially When You’re Abroad For A Year, as gathered from the nebulous learnings of my time spent in a country I chose arbitrarily when I was 13. I lay no claim to be any more relevant as an advice-giver than any other Year-abroaader, or indeed than anyone at all, but these are the pearls of wisdom that I thought were worth remembering and sharing.

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Consequences: A Collection of Cautionary Tales

For all its wonderful food, literature, climate, landscape and… oh, you get the idea… France has been known to outdo even my flagrant disregard for Consequences, their ludicrous administrative procedures (which I won’t go into here) being the key example. I’m fast approaching the end of my stay, so I’ve spent the last week embroiled in phonecalls to the outrageously underinformed employees of SFR and LCL. In homage to this hellish mire of beauracracy, I’ve rounded up a collection of the anti-logic that’s amused, irritated and enraged me this year, on both my own account and that of this great nation. First, however, I’ll share a couple of cautionary tales from my own past. 

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Spring has Sprung

Shortly after my return to MontyP after Christmas, my optimistic plan to spend every day from February to May at the beach was quashed by this remark from a volunteering colleague : “Ah oui, à Montpellier on a un bel automne mais un sale printemps.” This translates as “Montpellier has a beautiful autumn but a dirty spring”. Not just ‘a bit grey’, not just ‘mildly disappointing’; a DIRTY spring. I can’t claim that our overcast skies compare to the ridiculously apocalyptic weather the UK’s recently endured, but I have to say I felt a little disillusioned.

However, after months of drizzly greyness, the occasional bit of Saharan mud-rain, and several disappointed guests who’d been promised wall-to-wall sun, the aforementioned has at last broken through the clouds and the tauntingly humid greyness has blossomed into actual Good Weather. It seems that the South of France has finally decided to live up to it’s reputation as the crack den of Vitamin D junkies (guess who’s been watching Breaking Bad?) In honour of the fashionably late spring, I’m going to guide you on a mental journey through a few of the springtime sights, sounds and smells of Montpellier.

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