And so I'm living here in Heidelberg in a Wohngemeinschaft, commonly abbreviated to W.G. Now what's common in Britain is a large group of students sharing a house, that's just a shared house. A Wohngemeinschaft translates to 'living community', 'cos that's what it is. In the house I'm in, the rooms are arrayed like rooms in an Army barrack or a prison, but then we're all expected to take turns to clean up the kitchen or take out the rubbish (they have a rota, which has been written until November so I don't yet have to be on duty for anything), plus the corridors are so large so a friendly communal gathering can happen anywhere and not just in the kitchen/dining room. I've already found people with whom I enjoy German conversations about politics.
But in all honesty I'm surprised that Mum remarked the place was quite nice. I'm not saying it isn't but my first impression was that it wasn't up to standard. Indeed the rooms I've had in Halls for the last 2 years seem like luxury in comparison (the fact that almost everything is new adds to that impression). So while I've found rather little to complain about (except for corridor bulbs needing replacement, and that my curtain is not a proper curtain, and that another girl's curtain rail needs reattachment, and that the cable box doesn't have a channel that appears to be Digital exclusive so I still can't watch TNA) it's still rather annoying that there isn't a noticeboard, or at least a nail in the wall. There's nowhere to put my lovely calendar. It's lying down on the windowsill. That's not how a calendar should be treated, it should be on the wall, standing out and easy to spot. Almost lazy yet very important.
I had a very minor culture shock yesterday. Yesterday was an annual bank holiday to commemorate German Reunification. I had forgotten this when I went out-and-about yesterday trying to do some errands but finding nowhere open for business (except restaurants). So having located Aldi (thanks Katie but it was not a 10 minute walk) I went there for the first time in my life this morning. It was so similar to Lidl I swear they used the same signs. And I was rather pleased with the range of produce they had. Their fresh fruit 'n' veg line had several organic equivalents and they even had good quality fish and meat. And it was all so cheap. You see, being aware of the environmental impact of meat and dairy production, I decided to not buy any meat of my own, plus it's cheaper that way. (I'll keep meat-eating to restaurant and Mensa food-Mensa is a refrectory.) But now I know I can treat myself every so often :).
I wonder if Lidl branches in Germany are the same? They must be, otherwise the competition between the two wouldn't be so stiff. Yet while I gleamed from rental ads that either of the pair in the nearby distance are considered necessary by Germans, I can't help but compare Aldi in Fürstenburg (not in Heidelberg) to Lidl in Aberystwyth. Lidl's range of fresh produce is...well, mostly the pesticide-filled/chemically enhanced crap and no one dares eat its meat. In the UK there is still the strong feeling that anything good quality is likely to be pricey (I think many still think this despite the popularity of Primark). Germans believe that in most cases, you shouldn't have to pay extra. I can't think of any German national supermarket chain that has products and prices like that in Waitrose...or even Sainsbury's and many consider that good value.
I've just got the bright idea of sticking my calendar to the wall with stickey-tape. So I'll do that and then leave for the Philosophenweg. I might as well do something touristy while I still have spare time.