It would seem that with the beginning of March that spring, that gleichzeitig glorious and finicky time of year, has finally called in here in Trier. Last week several of us assistants capitalized on the first sunny day of the season for a walk (that’s British for “hike”) up to the Weiβhauswald on the other side of the Mosel in the falsche Biewertal, or “Wrong Biewer Valley” (Biewer being a nearby neighbourhood of Trier). The Wildherberge or game reserve/petting zoo (don’t pet the animals) ostensibly brought us up there, but the woods have so much to offer as well: not only can you see the deer and pigs, but there’re stellar views of Trier below, pleasant trails, and even a creepy old abandoned soccer arena. Besides, Hillary had two Canadians visiting from Holland, so a tromp through the woods seemed like just the thing.
We certainly weren’t the only people out enjoying the sun. Several families had come out to see the animals, having no doubt the same idea as us. Many of these groups seemed to be children and grandparents. “This seems like the perfect place to send grandma and grandpa with the kids,” Hillary remarked. Then, on our way up to the abandoned sports arena, we passed a group of middle aged alpine walkers doing their group stretches. Their seriousness and above-all their gear put us to shame. We must have looked a shabby lot in our jeans and city coats next to them, totally unprepared for the moderately level paths that lay in store for us. To be honest, the thought of wearing gaiters for the day’s walk hadn’t crossed my mind – but what can I say, I am inexperienced when it comes to the rough and tumble woods of western Germany. I guess I’ll never know how we survived without wearing 800€ worth of gear, each.
The previous evening we had all gathered to wish fellow assistant Marriane adieu – she’s off to France for a language course, then off to Barcelona for an exchange semester. It was with great sadness that we said our goodbyes, for her cheeriness will be sorely missed at our weekly Schnitzelabend meetings. In an effort to keep everyone’s spirits up I introduced the group to Password, a game I learned from fellow bloggers Ashly and Andrew and the Smiths. We kept adding new words as the game went on, so before we knew it we had been playing for over two hours! It’s also quite difficult with players from other sides of the Atlantic – so many cultural gaps!
With Marianne and Emma, another assistant who’s soon leaving us, we find ourselves here in Trier in an interesting position: the North American assistants now outnumber the Brits. Now we will determine what is the right and proper English (perhaps even for French!) – the winter of our discontent is over, you might say.
Ach ja. Spring brings with us so many possibilities of patios and hikes, two of the finer things in life. Already Trier seems to be waking itself up after what winter’s wind and snow.
But spring also brings unpleasantness with it, and not just the fact that Marianne and Emma are leaving us. No, we begin to realize now that our time here in Trier quickly escapes us, and our assistantships will soon be over. The Brits will return to university for their final year, while the North Americans begin looking homeward and the uncertainty of the job market there. That’s the downside of the assistantship, the false sense of usefulness and ability, the sense of duty and purpose. What will come of us in May, when our contracts are over? Mal schauen, come what may.
For now though I’ll do my best to enjoy what time is left, including hiking and travelling as much as I can, starting with a cheeky trip to Basel, Switzerland this weekend, because why not? I’ll leave you now with a rendition of a German springtime song I first came across during my German courses at the University of Victoria, a song popularized if not written by the Comedian Harmonists in the 1930s in Germany.