Four Months Later.

Its four months since I graduated and according to my student friends, I’m now a proper adult. Which I disagree with, but seeing as I do pay council tax now, I suppose to an outsider I do look like a proper adult.

It means university can feel like a very long time ago, even though less than six months ago I was still frantically writing my dissertation, hoping that my supervisor was a fan of Harry Potter. Everyone told me I would miss university, and that if I didn’t miss it as soon as I left, I would miss it come October when my Facebook newsfeed was once more full of people moaning about lectures.

As it turns out, I don’t really miss university. I’m surprised as much as you are, seeing how much I did enjoy university. But I can’t express how happy I am to not be in lectures anymore. Don’t get me wrong, learning about cool and interesting things is awesome. But I never have to write an essay about Hitler again and I am so thankful. While starting work was a learning curve, it had practical applications to my life aka being able to do my job and getting paid. I enjoyed so much of what I learnt about at university but unless I was planning to go into academia, it didn’t have any real uses. Except for being boss at German history trivial pursuit.

I do miss having my friends so close, but it appears as if Birmingham’s emitting a siren call and some of my best friends have now moved here. Which works out excellently for me. Though I should probably stop being so busy at weekends to take full advantage of this fact.

I miss how easy it was to go to dancing several times a week, because if it was exhausting, I didn’t have to be up the next day. The whole you must be at work every day thing can be a real drag sometimes. And getting to and from places can be difficult. I’ve not made it to any swing dance classes or socials in Birmingham yet because of, well, various reasons, but not being able to walk from my house is one of the big ones.

So yes, university was great, and there were some perks to it that you just can’t get when you’re not at uni. But being a proper adult is shaping up to be pretty great too.


Halloween at Hogwarts

I hope everyone has had an excellent Halloween, whether that means you dressed up and partied or if you curled up in front of some festival appropriate films or if you had a completely ordinary night. Mine was petty good. It started with some lovely ladies on the train giving me a flower and a grandmother tell me I looked good in skull make up. From there I went to a Halloween/Day of the Dead party thrown by a friend from work, who has the most adorable son. Between paella and eyeball cupcakes, it was pretty great. And then I headed to Beth’s to watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show and then fell asleep halfway through The Addams Family.


I think I over did the eyeliner.

So yes, pretty good Halloween all round. But I’d like to tell you about the stuff I did for Halloween last weekend. Because who doesn’t want to hear about Halloween at Hogwarts?

I was down in London, once again visiting Maddie. For graduation, my Dad bought me a ticket to go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford, and Maddie agreed to go with me. And we booked to go during their Halloween extravaganza.

Suitably dressed, we made our way to Watford Junction by train, before boarding the shuttle buses that run to the studio tour. The people who were most excited were the kids and the twenty year olds. Not the parents.



Our tickets were booked for 6.30pm so thanks to Maddie being super clever, we got there for 5, giving us time to buy food and spend about an hour in the gift shop. The gift shop is a treasure trove of temptation. Expensive temptation. I now have many items of Harry Potter themed merchandise, including a Chudley Cannons pennant.


I need there to be a Quidditch team in Dudley called the Dudley Cannons.

Finally we got to go in. I’ve been to the studio tour before and the beginning is very cool. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t been yet, so I’m gonna skim over that.

The Great Hall was decorated for Halloween, naturally, and it was very cool to see the sweets and goodies on display, getting us into the Halloween mood. But round the corner a bigger surprise was waiting. Death eaters.


Literally the best photo I have ever taken.

This scary fellow snuck up to me while I was reading about the makeup and stared at me, until I noticed him. And, in what is my most British reaction ever, I said hello in the polite manner reserved for vicars and head teachers. He later got into a staring match with Maddie. He was disappointed that we didn’t scream and run away like the preteens did when he drew his wand and went into a duelling stance.


Standard night out.

The Studio Tour, for those who don’t know, is a collection of props, sets and costumes from the Harry Potter films, laid out so fans can come and be part of the magic. It’s well worth a visit if you loved the films. They explain how things were made, how spells were filmed – all sorts. And they have hundreds of props that you will spend hours wondering where they were in the film. My favourite is a knitted Hippogriff.


I want one so bad. 

There’s also opportunities to ride a broom, take part in a wizard duel and even go on the Hogwarts Express. You can also buy butterbeer and butterbeer ice cream, see the Knight Bus and loiter outside 4 Privet Drive. There’s a section about the models and puppetry behind the magical creatures, a slew of graphics, architecture models and concept art, as well as the fact that you can walk down Diagon Alley.


All London buses should be purple and three storeys high.

Having been before, I had seen most of it, but it was great to see deatheaters wandering around. The woman was so scary as Bellatrix me and Maddie were too scared to go and get a photo with her. I also got to try butterbeer for the first time and generally mess around at Hogwarts with one of my best friends. All in all, it was pretty darn great.


Such Halloween.

Indeed, I talked about it so much at work that someone I work with is going in January. How’s that for word of mouth advertising? Of course, going in January, she’ll get to see Hogwarts in the snow. Whereas I love a good Jack-o-lantern.


Harry Potter and the German Dissertation

As I believe I’ve mentioned, I’m graduating soon. All I need now is a) my final results and b) a day of wearing a cap and gown, and I will officially be done with my undergraduate degree. Like a lot of people, I had to do a dissertation to get to this point. I really liked my dissertation, so I’m going to nerd out about it here. Warning: much nerdery ahead.

My dissertation began about this time last year in a bar in Bruges. While on holiday with my friends, which you can read about here, I realised that despite my best efforts I would probably have to do a dissertation, and I had no idea what I would write about. A drunken-ish discussion ensued, and the next day I discovered notes on my phone about what I should write about. It turned out I’d been really insistent about wanting to write about Harry Potter.

I think it’s fairly obvious that I am a huge fan of Harry Potter, but trying to come up with a dissertation that included that was difficult. But I eventually made it work. I was going to look at neologisms (made up words) in the Harry Potter series and how they were translated into German. At this juncture, I’d like to point out that my main motivation to write about Harry Potter was so that it would be interesting, rather than necessarily being nerdy enough to write about Harry Potter. Simply put, I desperately didn’t want to write a 4000-7000 word essay on Hitler and the Third Reich.

So I wrote about Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I also wrote about a book called Die 13½  Lebens des Käpt’n Blaubär by Walter Moers, which in English is The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear. (It’s an excellent book. You should go read it.) And somehow I muddled through and handed in a dissertation entitled ‘From Albus Dumbledore to Zamonia: A comparison of the impact of neologisms in fantasy novels and their translations between English and German, focusing on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling and Die 13½ Leben des Käpt’n Blaubär by Walter Moers’. Yeah, it’s a mouthful.

Basically, I looked at four different theories of translation and how they could be applied to the translations of made-up words in Harry Potter and Bluebear. And while it took a really long time to do, not least because the first thing I had to do was write out all the made up words in each book (in English and German) and Bluebear is 700 pages long, it was a really enjoyable experience. I mean, as far as writing an essay can be enjoyable.


Undergraduate research posters. Mine’s the one with the Harry Potter writing.

And while I was doing my dissertation, the Department of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies (aka CLAS aka my uni department) had a post graduate symposium which included an undergraduate poster competition. You could submit a poster of any research you’d done and so, as procrastination, I made a poster of my dissertation. And somehow I won. So that was pretty cool. Especially as when I made my poster, I hadn’t actually written my dissertation.

I had to explain my research to a bunch a postgraduates. I basically said I’m looking at made up words.

I’m not sure if there’s a point to this blog post aside from me going ‘I got to write an essay on this thing and that was super cool, because Harry Potter and linguistics and yes’, but if there were to be another point it would be this: try and do your dissertation on something that interests you. I was terrified that I’d have to write mine on something that I didn’t really care about, that I wasn’t really interested in and that I wouldn’t do very well in. Instead, I wrote about two books that I love with regards to a part of language study that I find fascinating (aka translation with a focus on linguistics). And I got my second highest mark of my university career for it, which was so unexpected. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that Harry Potter got me a first, and if that isn’t magic, I’m not sure what is.


Edinburgh is the New Dresden

With exams over and time to kill before lectures start up again, I was in Edinburgh this week. Why Edinburgh? Well, that’s where Manda lives now. You may remember Manda from posts like ‘Dresden, Baby‘, ‘All Christmassed Out‘ and ‘Easter Holidays, part one‘. She’s awesome and I hadn’t seen her in forever, so after my last exam I made the five hour, three train journey up to Scotland.

I got there at like half eleven at night, so it’s not as if I exactly did sightseeing that first day, although it’s hard to miss the castle seeing as it’s right next to the railway station. And the Scots monument. Okay so I kinda did some sightseeing on my way to Manda’s flat, but it was in the dark and more a case of glancing at things.

The next day I was lucky enough to get a lie in while Manda had a translation class, because they’ve started classes again already. And then when she was back, we headed out into Edinburgh. First we went to The Elephant Café, famously where J K Rowling wrote some of Harry Potter.


Obligatory photo of me.

It’s a café. With lots of pictures of elephants. And a metric ton of graffiti in the toilets. I mean, if you need food or drink, it’s quite nice. If you want to be in the same room that J K Rowling was once in, then yes, go ahead. But it’s not a shrine to Harry Potter or anything. Well, the toilets are. But other than that, if you’re looking for much Harry Potterness, you need to go to somewhere like the Harry potter Studio tour.


My favourite of all the graffiti

After the Elephant Café, we went to St Gile’s cathedral, which was really nice. The roofline is very interesting, and inside the ceiling’s pretty cool. It’s not the hugest of cathedral’s but it’s really nice.


Look at that chiseled roofline

Then we headed to the Scott monument, which is not, as I thought it was, called the Scots Monument. It’s a memorial to Sir Walter Scott who wrote books like Ivanhoe. Usually you can go up it, and that was our plan, but it was closed for maintenance. So having being deprived of exercise in one form, we headed up Calton Hill which affords one lovely views of the city without being quite as colossally tiring as Arthur’s Seat.


So very pretty.


So very very pretty.

Post exercise and view, we got ice-cream and then wandered in and out of shops, because they looked interesting and it was cold outside. I mean, so cold. I knew Scotland would be cold, but I did not expect it to be as cold as it was. Then we went home and generally chilled out before making good decisions and getting takeway. I also finally got to meet some of Manda’s friends. After hearing so many stories, it’s nice to put tales to faces. We did eventually go to a cocktail bar, where we had one drinks before realising we were knackered and so headed home.


Possibly my favourite tag line ever.

The following day we headed to Edinburgh uni’s Student Union where I was very jealous because it’s way better than the SU at Uni of Notts. I got to meet yet more of Manda’s friends, which was pretty cool. After lunch we went and had a drink with one of her buddies. There’s a scheme at Edinburgh uni where international students are matched up with home students, to… help them out at first, I guess? Moving to a foreign country for uni is scary, especially if the language isn’t your native one. She was very lovely and it turns out one of her friends is studying in Ilmenau. Small world. Very small world.


Edinburgh knows what’s what.

Post coffee, we went home, I watched the Bee Movie for the first time (seriously, what is up with that film?) and then we headed out to a pub to watch the football. I’ve only ever watched one football match in my life and that was Germany v England in the 2010 World Cup. So it was an interesting night.

I got schooled in how to refer to Manchester United without sounding like a complete stranger to football. I tweeted about the game as if it was a quidditch match. Found out some of Manda’s friends met some of my friends during their year abroad. Seriously guys, it’s a super small world.

The day I was headed home, Manda had to work so I didn’t actually see her in the morning of my final day, but I talked to her flatmates and that’s basically the same thing, right? (Manda, I love you really.) And then I made the five hour, three train trip back to Nottingham.

Edinburgh’s a really great city and I had a lot of fun, but what really made it great was seeing Manda. I did occasionally get confused and think we were in Dresden because I’d really only ever seen Manda in Dresden. But then I’d realise everyone around us (aside from the tourists) were speaking English and would remember that I was still in the UK. I had an excellent time in Scotland. Looking forward to when I can next go back.


Pottering Around

I am a huge Harry Potter fan. So much so that at Nottingham, I’m a member of the Quidditch and Harry Potter society and was even on the committee during my second year. Despite this, last summer I realised I hadn’t actually read the books in a very long time. So the month before I moved to Germany I reread books 1-3. However, I didn’t bring the others with me. This led to me buying Harry Potter und der Feuerkelch in my first few weeks in Ilmenau. I have finally finished it. (Considering I read Deathly Hallows in roughly four hours, six months for the Goblet of Fire is somewhat impressive.)

Obviously, the majority of the world knows about Harry Potter, so I’m not going to review it or anything like that. I am, however, going to talk about certain things that tickled my fancy whilst reading it in German. There are probably spoilers. Beware.

1. Hermione is called Hermine in German. I’m not entirely sure why it’s changed, maybe Hermine is German for Hermione. All I know is that every time I read it, I hear the part from A Very Potter Sequel where Ron and Harry are searching for Hermione in the shrieking shack and cannot get her name right. (You can find it here, at about 4:02-4.20)

2. Buckbeck is called Seidenschnabel, which is a fantastic sounding word. According to Google translate it means silken beak, so is not a direct translation. But awesome sounding nonetheless.

3. The German for remembrall is erinnermich, which means remind me/remember me. Pretty accurate translation of remembrall if you ask me.

4. I always wondered how punny names got translated into other languages. For example, The Knight Bus. Turns out in German, The Knight Bus is the Fahrender Ritter, which means the travelling Knight. Guess that pun didn’t really translate so well.

5.  One of the important parts of Harry Potter are the fantastic beasts (and where to find them). I always figured most mythological creatures were called the same in every language, but I am an idiot. I did, however, realise that some creatures would have to have new names because JK Rowling made them up. Like, Boggart. [Edit: I’ve been reliably informed that Boggarts existed in folklore before Harry Potter. Apologies for my mistake.] I did some googling and Irrlicht means will o’ the wisp in German. I feel like that’s probably the route of the German for Irrwicht, which is Boggart.

6. Die Kammer des Schreckens is the Chamber of Secrets. Seeing as secrets is Geheimnisse, I was surprised, but I feel like Chamber of Horrors makes more sense for a place that is home to a giant, terrifying snake. (If the Basilisk didn’t scare you, you’re probably a Gryffindor.)

7. Die Karte des Rumtreibers is the Marauders‘ map. According to my favourite dictionary site, Rumtreibers is not a word that exists in German. So yes.

8. Speaking of the marauders, Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs are Moony, Wurmschwanz, Tatze and Krone. Which is Moony, Wormtail, Paw and Crown. Don’t tell James Potter. His head’s big enough as it is.

9. Whilst on the subject of nicknames, Sirius Black is often referred to as snuffles in Book 4. In German this is Schnuffel. Which sounds way more cutsey and amuses me greatly.

9. So seeing as Tom Marvolo Riddle spells out I am Lord Voldemort (seriously, how bored was Voldemort when he figured that out?), his name has to change in other languages. In German, he becomes Tom Vorlost Riddle. Still sounds pretty made up bad ass to me.

10. Mudblood becomes Schlammblut as a direct translation.

11. Schuleulen means school owls and Eulerei means owlery. Nothing remarkable about this except they are fantastic sounding words in German.

12. Talking of fantastic words, wizards pack of cards becomes Zauberschnippschnappacken in German. Gotta love the German compound nouns.

13. Goblet of Fire begins to show the Wizarding community as an international world, which means reading dialogue by Krum and Fleur, as accented German. It’s fantastic. Reading French and Bulgarian accented German is super odd, but amazing as well.

14. Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans are Bertie Botts bohnen jeder Geschmacksrichtung, which makes me want to bemoan the lack of alliteration, but they’re not exactly fully alliterative in English either.

15. Pensieve is German is das Denkarium. Personally, I prefer the German, but I think that’s mainly because I can say it. Unlike the English which has me tripping over the knots in my tongue.