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HTC Desired, and finally acquired.

April 19, 2011 1 comment

On Friday evening, I finally got around to buying a new phone, or at least to trying. I went for food and a few beers with two friends from the IBZ and we popped into the T-Mobile store on the way. The woman who served us didn’t speak English but she did a good job of understanding my German and the one of my mates who speaks German helped out on the complicated bits. I signed all the documents and she told us I had to come back in half an hour after it’d been unlocked and registered.

Unfortunately, when we returned the shop was closed. OK, fair enough, but this meant I had to wait the whole weekend. I turned up on Monday morning, but it doesn’t open until 10:00, so I back I went again on Monday evening. I turned up, explained that I needed to pick up a phone I’d payed for on Friday. She said I had to pay another 250 € security and come back in half an hour. I explained that I’d already done all of this and was quite annoyed, but she said that no, I have to wait again. So I signed all the same papers again and came back later.

When got back there, I tried to ask them whether, with the 250 € paid now, the whole contact will still cost the same by the end. They didn’t understand at all and the two of them now just kept telling me I had to pay 250 € for security. I tried the question several ways but still they didn’t seem to get it. I was pretty sure at the time that my German was at least OK and that they were just being useless. Today, I repeated what I had said in the shop to a friend a work, without saying what I meant in English. She understood immediately and even said the German wasn’t too far off correct.

Conclusion: they’re idiots, rather than just not understanding my German :p . They did give me a phone though, so off home I went relatively happy. And Here it is, next to my old phone, my iPAQ and my laptop, to give a nice range of recent age, portability and power:

My family of mostly pointless gadget.

My family of mostly pointless gadget.

When I originally unpacked it, I realised they’ve given me the wrong one. With some anger driving me I raced to the shop on my bike for a 4th time, in an attempt to get there before they closed. They had already locked the doors but the woman was still inside, so I knocked and explained to her that they had given me the wrong phone. With a lot of whining and moaning she said I would have to come back the next day. I said no. This wasn’t what I paid for, and I’m not coming back for a fifth time. She said that she’d already switched the computers off. At this point, speaking the language would be useful as I’ve have told her quite a lot more. Now, if she had said he had to for example, pick her children up from school, or something like that, then fine, I’d have left it. No, she was basically saying that she wanted to go home and couldn’t be bothered to sort the mistake they’d made right now. So I had to instead admit defeat and go home, promising that I would return the next evening.

As it happens, I’ve decided to keep the Desire HD as it is a little cheaper (they charged me the correct amount for it) and is still quite cool. Also, this way, every day for a few weeks, the woman will be awaiting and dreading my return. Mwa ha ha.

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Categories: language

Mmmm, Indigermoenglish food.

March 6, 2011 Leave a comment

On Thursday night a group of us (the internationals) went out to a Curry restaurant in Greifswald. Again, an arbitrary mixture of languages was used by us since there was me, one of the polish guys, three Spaniards, a girl from Chile and another girl, the nationality of which I can’t recall. The waitress spoke only German, so some translation was done by those who were more able, but what amused me is that the menu was written in a strange mixture of languages. The dish titles included things such as ‘Chicken Masala’ which is very definitely English and followed by the German description; ‘Lamm’ curries, which is German for the obvious and finally ‘Mashroom’ curries, which I don’t think is a word for anything in any language, other than the obvious English misspelling. The conversation about exactly how hot they call hot was a slightly confused exchange of Spanish, German and English. For the sake of general education, in German they use the work ‘scharf’, which is also ‘sharp’ but totally different from their word for thermally hot: ‘heiß’.

My building in the IBZ. Yes, it's wonky for some reason.

My building in the IBZ. Yes, it's wonky for some reason.

Greifswald town centre.

Greifswald town centre.

Categories: food, language

Fees, Freebies and Feierabend.

February 27, 2011 Leave a comment

By Thursday last week I was really running out of Euros, so I figured I’d leave work early and go to try to get a bank account. I’d been avoiding this until I’d learnt a little more German, just in case I had to try to do the whole thing without someone who spoke English. Fortunately the German part of the conversation only got as far as me saying I needed to set up an account but don’t speak much German, and the lady saying she’d go find her college who speaks English. He spoke it very well too, struggling only to pronounce the word ‘synchronisation’, which isn’t the easiest.

The Sparkasse bank (Yes, it's a 'k', and yes, I cut this image out of an earlier one)

The Sparkasse bank (Yes, it's a 'k', and yes, I cut this image out of an earlier one)

About an hour later I had a bank account (2.50€ / month) from which I’ll be able to pay things etc, either online or at the machines in the bank (0.20€/transaction) or by actually going into the bank (0.50€) and will get statements (1.00€). Oh, but I can’t use the website until I’ve got my card (4.00€) and the little secure ID machine (12.00€). They were kind enough to let me have such a low cost current account only because I’ll be getting a reasonable amount coming in each month. They do a free account, but then you pay 0.20€ for each and every transaction ever.

For comparison, in the past 12 years I’ve been with HSBC in the UK (who have been brilliant and helpful throughout, btw), I’ve not had a single charge (other than some tiny interest), despite being nearly £2000 overdrawn for some of that time. Obviously there is something different about banking here.

Fortunately, they did change my remaining travelers cheques, although this took 4 people about 30mins including getting the computing guy down from upstairs. Meanwhile, as the security shutters were all closing and amid the conversation there were repeated mentions of ‘feierabend’, which is the name for the time they are supposed to go home. Well, I’m very sorry (no I’m not), but it’s your stupid system which requires all this time. The banks in Munich and Spain managed it within about 10 minutes.

Anyway, eventually I got home and later found a spare 50€ note I’d been keeping back. Oh well, it’s done now.

Categories: language

Trig, Tea, Talk and the Town.

February 19, 2011 Leave a comment
Maths and tea

Maths and tea

With most of the admin done, I’m starting to get to grips with the theory of the system I’m eventually going to be designing and building. So far this has just involved a lot trigonometry but at least my life has now returned to some kind of normality and once again consists of a lot of maths and a lot of tea.

I was also invited along to a cafe in Greifswald on Thursday night with a lot of the students (and possibly just younger people) at IPP. There were about twenty of us in the end and apparently they don’t manage to congregate on this scale very often. A lot of us were the internationals from the IBZ building where I live, but there were a few from Spain, a girl from Chille, an American, a few from others places and of course a few of the natives.

Cafe Humboldt

Cafe Humboldt

Everyone was chatting in, and about, a few different languages and towards the end I was talking to a some people seriously into LARP. As much as I’d rather spend my free time flying, it does sounds like they have a lot of fun.  Also, the food was good, which is reassuring since I was beginning to worry about the food here. The canteen at work leaves a lot to be desired. It makes the Culham canteen in Oxford look like an up-market restaurant.

Today (Saturday), I’ve had a wander around the town center. There are plenty of different shops, a few of which are the same as the shops in England. I bought a nice little coffee maker so can take ‘achieve decent coffee’ off my list of milestones.

Greifswald town centre.

Greifswald town centre.

Categories: food, language, work

Conversation Islands

February 16, 2011 Leave a comment

It can be quite strange sitting at lunch on a table full of people speaking a language you don’t understand, but I’ve found a fun game to play. I know enough now to pick out the about 2 words from every other sentence so the game is then to try to work out exactly how the topic gets between each little island of insight. Today’s example:

Something about playing football (in present tense) –> “How much does AUG cost” (a fusion reactor) –> something about the police.

All in about 8 sentences, any ideas?

View from my office

View from my office

I had a meeting today to discuss my project so I now actually have some things to get started with. I may explain the project in a bit more detail in specific posts later on.

I’ve also been looking at the German banks today, in order to get a current account out here. For some reason, many of them charge you, something of order 4€/month and the few that do free accounts make it out to be a novel thing. Why should I pay them to lend them my money? I’m going to have to think about this one carefully though, to avoid incurring huge charges if I ever want to transfer large chunks of my wages back to the UK. Suggestions/advice is welcome!

In other news… it snowed a bit today and it still very cold and windy. I also met two other English speakers trying to get into the IBZ where they keep all of us international types. Someone had bolted the main door. I took a photo to see around the door and then it took a bit of maneuvering to free it.

Doorfail

Doorfail

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