Yes, Vanessa and I are still alive! And I have not forgotten you: I have just been caught in Cologne's whirl and carried away by the German way of life! A different city, different people, a different way of thinking, that is what I am faced with. Did I mention a different university system? I suppose you did not know, so open your eyes, big news ahead: in Cologne there is no ECTS Credit Points system yet. How do we manage to survive, you would ask. Well... Asking, begging would even be more appropriate, for ECTS: if we do this, how many credits can we get? And so it goes on for every single lecture we attend. Another problem is that we have to come back to Belgium before the end of the German term. So exams turn into essays or appointments for "a little conversation/oral exam" (word for word what a "Dozentin" said!). Anyway, everything turns out to be going well so far, fingers crossed!
Actually, there is a lot more to say about the "Universität zu Köln". And one of these many things is their really disconcerting "Schein" system. In Belgium every lecture is normally followed by an exam, but here in Germany there are two different types of certificates. The first one is the very simple "Klausur" (or Exam). You sit, sign in, take notes, take the exam and that's it! The second one is much more funny. It's called the "Teilnahmeschein" (or Certificate of Attendance): you just sit, listen, take notes and you get your Schein. Or you can just sit and listen, or just sit and read a book, or just sit and unscramble Jumbles...but keep it under your hat! You can also sign in on the "Teilnahmeliste" and leave...or find someone to sign for you! Even the German say this makes no sense (in a country where everything is supposed to be highly regimented and logical).
So much for the theoretical, boring, official part. The fun begins when we get to the unofficial part. I will not bother you with the typical Sauerkraut with a pint (or more:) of Kölsch, the in-situ brewed beer, or with the traditional Christmas Markets. I will rather go for something I am sure you do not know about.
In Cologne they have the best milalongas I have ever seen. Now what is a milalonga? Spanish students would be able to understand that word, as well as tango afficionados. A milalonga is a dancing hall where they play tango argentino along with rumba and salsa. The best part of it is that you can listen to live music and have a couple of drinks with friends, but you can also dance (and this is really hard to find, unless you live in South America or have a friend in Argentine). If you want more information I recommend you check this very interesting site www.tango-koeln.de
I particularly recommend Tango Colon as huge dancing hall. Last week they organized a tango-marathon (from Saturday 17h till Sunday 17h: non-stop dancing), which turned out to be first-class fun!
I will stop here my novel and wish all of you a very "frohe Weihnachten" and a "guten Rutsch ins Neujahr". If you see what I mean...
Take care and "viel Spaß mit den Prüfungen"!