My Life in Manchester – X-Factor Finale and Hogmanay!

By Laura Németh

Good Morning, Zurich!

First of all, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you the very best for 2013! Also, my sincere apologies for being the most unreliable blog writer ever! Perhaps the New Year will bring a change for the better in that respect… It is not that I wouldn’t have wanted to report a million things to you but it’s been such a crazy time before the Christmas break and beyond that, the time now just before the exam period feels almost tranquil in comparison to that.

Here are just a few of the things that happened since my last blog entry: our gospel choir experienced a “day of fleeting stardom” when we were asked to feature in the X-Factor (it’s like the British version of DSDS but everyone still watches it) finale supporting one of the finalists and also “pretending” to be Rihanna’s dancing fan crowd in the first row of a 12’000 people venue in Manchester. Yes, I did touch her and yes the evening was an amazing if also very surreal and sometimes absurd evening. But it was a great experience to take part in it with the whole choir and we did have loads of fun! The highlight of the day for me personally was seeing Emili Sandé doing her dress rehearsal in the almost-empty building which was simply breathtaking. If you want to read some more about the occasion, here’s the link to the brilliant article that another member of the choir wrote about it to The Mancunion, the Manchester version of the ZEST: http://mancunion.com/2013/01/03/harmony-gospel-choir-has-got-the-x-factor/. Enjoy!

In the same week – I know it sounds incredible! – we also auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent in the same venue so it almost started to feel like we were locals there (although it was just a sort of pre-auditioning that did not take place on the actual stage yet). But the directors really liked us and in February, we will know whether we made it. To be honest, however, I really don’t mind if we don’t because it’s just really enjoyable to sing in that choir and all of this television stuff is definitely not my cup of tea: it’s a tick too artificial to the point of being slightly ridiculous at times. If you have a ever wondered what the TV business is actually like, just pile up all the stereotypes that you have about it in your head, intensify them by the factor ten and then you’ve got a pretty good approximation of what it is actually like. At least that’s the impression that I’ve got, which obviously isn’t representative at all. Be that as it may, it nevertheless was very good fun and exciting – if you didn’t take it all too seriously.

At last, we had our own Christmas concert, which was personally my favourite event! To sing all those beautiful and powerful songs in a great venue absolutely crammed with people all singing and dancing along and creating a wonderful atmosphere was definitely a highlight of my year abroad so far. The very last week before Christmas after that, then (in which thankfully no classes take place!), was all about Christmas dinners, mulled wine drinking, Christmas markets (Germany-inspired with real German sausages and “Gluhwein” signs all over the place) and of course – like every year – buying and wrapping all the Christmas presents in a last-minute frenzy! Then we all packed our suitcase, said goodbye to each other and headed off to our various home countries with Elaine definitely holding the record of going back to China for just five days!

Although I had just missed the big snow it was still great to have a bit of Zurich time and I’ve actually managed to see almost all of my friends at home which was quite a bit of a mission involving a lot of Swiss planning and organisation skills that had not been particularly used during the past few months! It was weird and wonderful at the same time just to go home for about a week and then to go back in time to celebrate Hogmanay, the New Year’s Eve in Scotland, or, more precisely, in the absolutely gorgeous city of Edinburgh!

The Hogmanay is a massive celebration all over the city involving men in kilts, bagpipes, eating Haggis (stuffed sheep’s stomach – okay, I could have done without trying that), fireworks and of course everyone getting very drunk and dancing Céilidh – the traditional Scottish dance where people interlock their arms and swing each other round (some Scottish ladies apparently become so strong from doing this that I was literally swept off my feet by one of them and was swung round in endless circles screaming at the top of my voice). As you can perhaps tell already, it is a very strange and hilarious tradition at the same time and I can only say that you have to experience it all for yourself in order to believe it! At the end of the day, we didn’t even attempt to describe what had just happened because the evening had just simply been the beyond description – it’s just the Hogmanay I guess!

Anyway, I need to go back now in order to battle with Nietzsche and Schopenhauer.

Have a lovely semester break if you belong to those lucky few who have already handed in all of your essays and are done with the exams! The best of luck to the rest of you and try to enjoy it nevertheless!

Love from Manchester,

Laura

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2 responses to “My Life in Manchester – X-Factor Finale and Hogmanay!

  1. Haha, your description of ceilidh dancing is dead on – I have come away with bruises up my arms on previous occasions…!

  2. Thanks! Haha really?! That must have been an even more extreme version then!!

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