Tagged: Events

Roaming and Reading- ticking one more thing off my Bucket List

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📥  Politics Languages & International Studies


The forum turned out to be highly useful for spotting events around Munich. I was able to attend several meet-ups, join a choir, go to an open-air book fair along the River Isar and get restaurant recommendations. I also went to the gorgeous though peculiarly-named Englischer Garten, which has beautiful lakes for rowing, beer gardens, a massive Chinese Tower in which a brass band plays on Sundays, restaurants, monuments and a Grecian-style temple affording a breathtaking view over Munich, among other things, and not the slightest bit English. It is absolutely enormous. Every time I went there, I feared I would forget which direction I’d come from and still be there several years later, utterly lost, living in a tent made out of my coat and some branches, and spit-roasting squirrels to survive. It is a must-see, especially when the first autumn leaves are crisp underfoot and everything is rich with colour. Another sight not to be missed is the lovely Schloss Nymphenburg, which has several beautiful miniature outhouses scattered around the grounds.

Scrolling through the forum’s events page one day, one post in particular leapt out at me- an ‘Open Mic’ evening at a English-language bookshop, The Munich Readery. I tried my hardest to ignore it, but a little voice persisted, getting steadily louder, just like your alarm seems to at stupid-o'-clock in the morning until you throw the clock at the wall. This one said: “You know that it’s long been a dream of yours to read your poetry out to an audience, and now here’s your chance handed to you on a plate.” And (here goes my street cred- what street cred?- oh, never mind) it was true. I assumed the facial expression of one ascending the scaffold to hang, picked up my mobile and rallied a troop for moral support- friends who wouldn’t let me chicken out, and would physically drag me in there if need be.

If that seems a tad dramatic to you, let me explain further. Imagine being stood before a large window, on the other side of which is a crowd of strangers with magnifying glasses, torches, binoculars and telescopes, all pointing directly at you. Imagine, if you will, being naked under this relentless scrutiny. Not nice, is it?

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how I feel and have always felt every time I have been asked to share my literary works in person, even if it’s just with a bored class who isn’t paying the slightest attention anyway, or a friend on the bus. WIthout the veil of internet anonymity to hide behind, the silent scrutiny, the feeling of being judged is terrifying. With every word I read aloud I feel as though I am warding off an impending army of lions in tanks with a sheet of tinfoil. This was no different.

The days rolled around with startling rapidity until we were sat in neat rows between bookshelves, and the American couple who owned the store opened up the (metaphorical) stage. I leaned back in my chair, affecting nonchalance, and silently wailed Why am I doing this to myself?

A couple of old dears read lengthy, sweetly-accented accounts of their summer holidays and getting to grips with Skype (a pair of German guys next to me sniggered into the science-fiction.) A nervous-looking student rather like myself read some gloomy but atmospheric poems. A flamboyant actor/writer barked out a few line-long poems which were more like the punchlines to jokes and festooned the baffled audience with leaflets advertising his next play. Then I looked all around to see if I could possibly put it off any longer, but I couldn’t. It was my turn. I perched on the desk at the front and read to my shoes (I don’t think they appreciated it all that much.) I did get some great feedback at the meet and greet afterwards though, so I suppose I did something right.

Plus there were crackers. Everybody loves crackers.

Me and my Musketeers (grammatically incorrect for alliterative effect) befriended the sniggering Germans and exited with them, into the dark, damp and slightly blurry night.

Blurry? Yes, the snow had finally begun to fall- worth mentioning, because I would barely see the pavement again during my remaining time in Munich. We went to an Irish bar to ward off the sudden chill. Ah, multiculturalism.


Events, Tents and Experiments

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📥  Politics Languages & International Studies


The next week, there was a public holiday- the Day of German Unity, which explained the profusion of white tents which had been popping up on the stretch from Universität to Odeonsplatz. The day itself dawned bright and clear, arches of black, red and yellow balloons fluttered merrily overhead, and the world and his wife came to see the festivities, including, somewhere, Angela Merkel. Each tent represented one of the Länder- the Berlin tent even had a mini Brandenburg Gate to pose by for photos. Jolly whiskered Bavarians beamed over their accordions, the scent of Bratwurst and the clinking of tankards filled the air, and in the evening, everyone gathered in solemn silence to watch a documentary of the events leading up to reunification, projected onto a large screen.

I also went to a gig that week, at Backstage, which is like Bath’s Discord, only more so- and was lucky enough to see OOMPH!, a German rock band from which Rammstein got their inspiration, or so it is rumoured- had an amazing time in the front row (until the singer and guitarist started crowdsurfing, that is) and definitely felt the after-effects the next day, sleep-limping through the drizzle to work.

“I’m sooooo tired,” I moaned to a colleague in barely coherent German, thunking my head down on the desk while my neck twinged painfully.

“Yes, sometimes it’s hard,” my French colleague agreed. “But we’ve got a safeguard.”

“And what’s that?”

He smiled sweetly, came into my office and opened the cupboard under the dictionary shelf to reveal a secret stash of bottles representing the alcohol aisle of a supermarket- vodka, brandy, whisky, still sealed (mostly) and waiting for that day when one of us would finally snap over ridiculous deadlines, tetchy customers and demands to create rhyming couplets over the phone (yes, it’s happened to me.) Even as a non-drinker, I had to laugh.

I was starting to realise that I could really do with some more friends, and so I joined a forum for English speakers living in Munich (it wasn’t cheating; Germans who wanted to learn English were members too!) The first meet-up I went to was in a pleasant bar with good music, extremely long sofas (a good thing too, looking at how many people turned up over the course of the evening) and a football table. But of course, as is the case with any gathering of slightly-drunk twenty-somethings, it did turn into a bit of a speed-dating circle, whereby you got steadily more uncomfortable, politely excused yourself and found yourself lumbered with a new well-meaning but completely misguided stranger.

“Do you believe in destiny?” said one beaming Mexican.

I was like, Really? Do people actually say that? I had to laugh, but he laughed too, which was weird. Did he realise his chat-up line was appalling, or did he just like to mimic his target for reassurance? Either way, I made my excuses. I also took advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity- that of speaking Finnish to a real live Finn. Doubt it will ever happen again, but hey, it was fun while it lasted (read: about two minutes, while I used up my rather scant knowledge of basic greetings and realised I couldn’t shoehorn any colours in.)

I bonded especially with an English au-pair. We agreed to meet up on the weekend to visit an art exhibition advertised on the forum. When the time came, we took one look at how tiny the gallery/shop was and how knowledgeable and arty all the other visitors looked and stood around in the rain trying to be inconspicuous until someone spotted us and beckoned us in. Luckily the art was all very accessible- we didn’t have to make up highbrow comments about it, it was all genuinely pleasant to the eye, and you could tell what everything was supposed to be. We admired the use of light and shade, painting techniques and the skilful interposing of photographs into paintings, where you could barely see the painted-over edges, and generally felt grown-up. A band played jazzy covers of English songs in the corner. Quietly my friend slunk to the refreshments table and politely toothpicked a couple of cubes of cheese, crackers and chocolate hearts, washed down with an artistic wine glass of Prosecco. On the return journey we achieved the rare feat of getting hideously lost and disorientated in a city where there are U-Bahns on virtually every street, entered a bar to ask directions, got chatted up by a middle-aged Münchner (the waiter said he should either buy us a pizza or leave us alone) and parted at Hauptbahnhof, promising to do it all again (minus the getting lost) soon.

So, in case you’re still expecting this blog to be vaguely advisory, that would be another Handy Hint. Get involved- there’s always heaps of things going on, if you know where to find them.

Oh... and don’t fall for creepy chat-up lines.

Unless you like that sort of thing, of course.


Events: ‘Mud Run’ - New Zealand

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📥  Education

Whilst on placement at Harbour Sport in New Zealand, I have been working in Event Management. A call out for a brand new event was set and with my interest in one day working in Event management I became part of the events team to develop the event idea – “The Mud Run”. The Mud Run concept involves children aged 6-13 to race through a muddy and wet obstacle course with an element of challenge and fun for kids - a bit different to a normal running event.

From August to November 2012, I played a key part in planning and delivering a trial mud run to test out the idea of the event. This was really good as I could see how a full event runs; starting from just an idea to the actual event. The Trail was held in December and was a huge success. Having a trial allowed us to see areas that would work really well and those that needed improvement for the big event which is in September 2013.

Planning for the new event started in January 2013, my roles have been to:
- Research obstacles ideas. The event has a range of different obstacles, including mud crawl, soap slide, wall jump, muddy string dangle, creek crawl, tyre tunnel and other exciting and muddy obstacles.
- Develop an obstacle course route. This involved going to see the land at the venue; some areas are really muddy, others hilly, and others straight. So I had to see what route would be the best by incorporating the land and obstacles.
- Determine the materials required to build the course. This was completed by getting quotes for all materials, first aid, port-a-loos, t-shirts, etc. This would either be over the phone, emails, or face to face.
- Generate ideas for possible sponsors. This involves linking companies and materials that we need for the Mud Run. This would allow us to work with them to supply material for the event and also promote them. I investigated materials from a range of shops and the companies which could be most useful for the Mud Run. These companies could be potential event or obstacle sponsors.
- Assist in the promotion of the Event Name Competition. This was done by creating a photo information board, flyers, posts on the Harbour Sport Facebook page and website, and contacting local schools.
- Other logistical work that needed to be done for the event, such as, car park mapping, health and safety plan, wavier form, and general research.

The event was launched on 25th March 2013. We decided that the event needed a better name then ‘Mud Run’. Therefore on 25th March we also launched the ‘Naming Competition’. Schools can win $300 worth of prizes for the best name! Even before the event had been officially launched there was so much attention, interest and excitement generated. Harbour Sport has an annual event on 24th March, called the ‘Shore to Shore’. This event allowed me to promote the mud run using a photo and information board, and flyers. People were already entering the competition before it had been officially launched.

It is an amazing and a great experience to be part of an event project team. I have gained so much knowledge and now have a greater understanding about how to plan and produce a successful event. Unfortunately I will be back in England when the event takes place on 8th September 2013. I think it would be great if the ‘Mud Run’ did become an annual event for Harbour Sport. When I return to New Zealand it will be great to see the event I worked so hard on, being continued and children having fun when participating.


1st Blog – My New Zealand Adventure begins!

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📥  Education

Hi I’m Sophie, and I am on a 1 year placement in Auckland New Zealand, where I am working for a Regional Sports Trust (RST) called Harbour Sport. What can I say; so far I have loved my time here and it’s only been 2 and half months. New Zealand is amazing, so pretty and it really is true that everyone is so laid back!

Why did I choose New Zealand? New Zealand is a country that I always wanted to go to, so why not try to gain work experience there. If you don’t try to go somewhere that is out of your comfort zone, then you won’t gain that extra experience you need to be in the ‘real world’. Well that is how I see it, I just can’t explain how exciting it is to just hop on a plane and see more of the world! Don’t get me wrong, it was so hard to say bye to my loved ones, but it is only a year at the end of the day and it is an excuse for them to go on holiday to see you!

I was lucky that a few other Bath University students are also on placement in New Zealand. I was able to link up with them and we are now living together. We live with other students, who come from all over the world so I have made friends with people around my age. This is really good as most people that we live with want to go exploring in New Zealand, so I have been on many day trips and we are planning more trips around New Zealand. This is adding to my experience due to there being many different cultures in New Zealand, including the Maori tribes.

So far on my placement at Harbour Sport, I have been able to work on a wide range of different projects to see what areas I am most interested in. This is really good, as I know some areas in sports development that I really enjoy and some that I have not experienced before. Some of the areas I have worked on so far are;

• Event Management – Triathlon, Mud Run, Sport Excellence Awards.
• Community Health Groups – Green Prescription, Active Families.
• Patient Support via Calls – Green Prescription support team.
• Teaching Fundamental Skills Programmes for children – Teaching cute kids basic skills.
• Document Development – Volunteer Toolkit, Triathlon proposal, Active Teens Heath Guide, Mud Run proposal, Girls Cycling Project.
• Article Writing for webcasts and newspapers – Volunteer on the Month (this goes out every month to a wide range of people).
• Presenting Awards and Projects – Volunteer of the Month, Triathlon, Activasian, Green Prescription, FunSkills, Girls Cycling Project.
• Data Collection – Volunteer Database, Whole of Community Database, School Activity Surveys, Activeasian.
• Survey Writing – Activeasian, FunSkills.
• Photo-shoots – This was for the Volunteer Toolkit (where I am staring on the front cover!)
• Project Research – All the projects I have worked on or have an interest in.

– – And all of this is only in 2 and a half months!

I am enjoying all of these so far; however Events would have to be my favourite area of work. As you can change everything and make an event your own with the interests from the community at that point in time.

Overall, my experiences from when I started thinking about where and what placement I wanted, to now being in New Zealand at Harbour Sport, have showed me that placement is important and very worthwhile. You need to make sure you choose somewhere that you think will benefit you most from in the future. Ensure you choose somewhere you will learn about the industry, but most of all, somewhere you will enjoy working!

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog! Make sure you check in with my next blog!

Cheers 🙂