So Much Christmas

As previously stated, I spent a good chunk of Monday traveling back to Ilmenau from Dresden. The rest of the day was spent making a powerpoint about London for tutoring and finishing off my lesson plan about Christmas in England. I also proofed a friend’s C.V, a friend’s Masters proposal and the family Christmas newsletter. I’m good at proofing – I live to correctly position commas. If I can get into the copy editing business, I’ll be a happy (and lucky) girl.


My favourite slide. Look how cute.

Tuesday meant two hours of work as usual. In the first, all I did was staple flip books together for the kids and point out that blonde is spelt with an e. Though I did discover my new favourite German word – Takerei. Not entirely sure what it means, but it has to do with staplers. It just sounds fantastic. And speaking of staplers, well done English on calling a spade a spade. What does this do? It staples. Let’s call it a stapler. (Not sarcasm – genuine pride in my language being logical for once.)

As always, Tuesday ended with the weekly meeting of the BC Café, where I found out that Kim now owns a TARDIS, that chocolate Lebkuchen tastes even better than normal Lebkuchen and that even German people who’ve talked to me and said my name correctly can’t read it correctly. There was also alcohol which I feel is a welcome to addition to any meeting.

If I may go off on a slight tangent here, Prost is a serious business here in Deutschland. (Prost means cheers, if you were wondering. The exultation before drinking, rather than the slang for thank you.) In England, I think I’ve only ever said cheers followed by clinking of glasses a handful of times – all of them on special occasions. In Germany, I have watched two guys in a club, on the dance floor, say Prost and clink glasses every time they took a swig of their drink. Every. Time. They. Drank. If you drink with Germans expect to say Prost before touching your drink. I once drank without saying Prost, and the looks I got were like I’d walked into a mosque with my shoes on or started eating without saying grace in a Christian household. And you have to try and clink glasses with everyone. That includes the person at the other end of the table who is about three arms lengths away. Viel Glück!

Wednesday is my busiest day. 5 hours at school and then tutoring in the evening – I’m so overworked. (Note the sarcasm.) I was meant to be in English for the first two hours, but as the kids had a sport party (more on that a bit later on) I went and used the internet in the media room for a couple of hours. Then I was with Klasse 3/4c. Normally I do maths on the computer with them for the whole 2 hours, but this time we started with a short excursion. The children have a colouring book of Ilmenau, and they get to go see the things they’re colouring in. One of the things is a cabin, which I’m not quite sure why it’s important except for the fact that it’s old. After we’d been out in the cold for about 20 minutes – the cabin was shut for repairs so we couldn’t go in – we were back in school and it was time for me to do maths with the kids. It was addition up to a 1000 and it took one girl 20 minutes to do what was taking the other kids 5. The problem with me helping with Maths is I don’t know how they’re taught. I mean, the way they’re told to do stuff might be different to how I was taught. It’s a different country and I left primary school 9 years ago. Ah well. At least my mental maths is improving.

I don’t remember what happened in my last class. I suspect I had it free because of the Sportparty. But instead of heading home, I hung around waiting for Monika. Monika is one of the teachers and wanted to take me to the animal park in Ilmenau. Which was pretty cool despite it being freezing (does that count as wordplay?). The only issue is that Monika thinks I come from London and spent a lot of time going “that’s a sheep, they live in fields.” Now, I know I have had to say I’m a “city” girl because I don’t know tree names, but I do know what sheep look like. But it was really nice of her to take me, and even nicer to pay for lunch.

Tutoring was good. Both of the kids have been to London, so I got them to tell me about where’d they’d been. Then I did a rundown of the top tourist sites and then we did arts and craft. The idea was that they’d draw their favourite place in London, but as Viki’s favourite place is Victoria Station, which I didn’t have a picture of, she ended up drawing the queen. I drew a double decker bus, if you were wondering.


Why yes, I did give up art in year 9. How could you tell?

I think on Thursday I slipped into a parallel dimension. I ended up helping at the second Sport Party. What this involved was giving the kids candyfloss at 9am and hoping they didn’t get too hyper.


Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, heu heu heu.

So what it actually was, was six different stations of various activities, like crawling through tunnels, or trying to knock down 9 tin cans, or one of those strong man tests where you hit the thing with a hammer and if it makes the bell ding then you’re the strongest person alive. This was led by Michael. Ah Michael. Fetchingly garbed in a chef’s hat, pink jeans and a lime green tank top, it was his job to hype the kids up. Which was highly amusing to watch but also slightly terrifying. But there was music (most of it English, none of it censored) and the repetitive cry of Zicke Zacke, Zicke Zacke (the German equivalent of Oggy, oggy, oggy) and the kids had a ball. And I got to have candyfloss and popcorn for my second breakfast.

My plan for the rest of Thursday was to head to Erfurt because there was a job fair on (I know how to have fun). After falling asleep on the train in, I couldn’t figure out the trams and gave up. Went to the Christmas Market instead. Girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.


Ferris wheels and fairy lights. What more could you want?

The Erfurt Weihnachtsmarkt is very pretty. It’s in the square below the cathedral and is fairly big. What was cool was they had sideshow games as well, like hook a duck. No, I did not attempt it – I have enough stuffed toys as it is, thanks. I did however buy Christmas presents, a bratwurst, and a chocolate apple. The chocolate apple was delicious. Might even be better than toffee apples. Is less sticky at least.


Behold the deliciousness.

I then headed to Arnstadt. Arnstadt is a town 22km from Ilmenau and I’ve been meaning to go for a while, if only to put another sticker on my map. Because I’m a dork, I bought a map of Germany. And it now has pink stickers where I’ve been this year and black stickers where I’ve been in previous years. And if you ignore one pink sticker, then the others mark out the train route to Prague from Ilmenau. I really ought to stop going east… Nah. But Arnstadt was a place I wanted to go and the Weihnachtsmarkt was opening on Thursday. So I rock up at 5 past 5, when, by the way, it is already dark. And when I say dark, I don’t mean the sun is starting to set, I mean I suddenly understand why we’re afraid of the dark and am ever grateful that we’ve invented street lights. I make my way to the town centre to find the Weihnachtsmarkt closed. So England’s been having some storms recently, and Germany is getting the winds from that. Which meant despite the fact that the Weihnachtsmarkt was meant to being officially opened at 5pm on Thursday, it had been closed at 3pm. Leaving me with nothing to do but to work very slowly back to the railway station, admiring their Christmas lights as I went.


Look at the pretties.

And now we come to Friday. Today was Nikolaustag, which mean on Thursday night the kids cleaned their biggest pair of boots and left them outside the door, hoping St Nicholas would leave presents for them. Which he did.

I started in English where I was used a walking dictionary as ever. I’m always grateful that I’m in a primary school and therefore don’t need to know big English words. Not because my vocabulary is limited but because I don’t think the kids would appreciate me going ‘it’s that word that’s like Versailles but isn’t.  Oh what is it, I can never pronounce it. It’s…er… It’s…wait, it’s verisimilitude.’ The problem with learning long/clever words from books is that they never tell you how to pronounce them, making what was meant to be an intelligent sounding sentence sound like gobbledegook. I’m looking at you ‘epitome’.

My second English class of the day was teaching about Christmas in England. Had one smart alec kid ask how Santa goes all round the world in one night, and my mentor teacher neatly stepped in to point out this was the British Santa Claus, so he only had to deal with Great Britain. My answer was going to be ‘magic’. The issue with talking about Christmas to children, of course, is not slipping up about Santa. (Spoilers: he’s not real.) They were super impressed by a paper chain that I made whilst very tired a couple of nights ago, and if anyone from 13e2 is reading this, they loved the Narnia we created in M12.


Yes, we did win best decorated classroom, thanks for asking.

At lunch one of the boys asked me if I’d got presents from St Nikolaus and I said no, explaining it doesn’t happen in England and I didn’t know I was meant to leave my boots out last night, he gave me a chocolate Santa. Because he felt bad for me, being English and not having St Nikolaus Tag. But I had spoken too soon. When I headed to the staffroom at the end of lunch to check which classroom I was meant to be in, it turned out I had a package. A package that was super difficult to get into.


English sweets, christmas pudding earrings, the brightest knitwear you will ever see and a Santa badge.

Dad has fantastic timing. He managed to send me sweets and gloves (the two most popular gifts) for St Nikolaus tag without even trying. And speaking of my Dad being fantastic, you see those Christmas pudding earrings? He made them. That’s right, my Dad can make Christmas earrings out of beads. I have Santa ones from last year.  The hat and gloves were made by my grandma, who doesn’t expect me to wear them. But when it looks so good, how can I not?


For someone who doesn’t like hats, I have an awful lot of pictures on here with me wearing them.

In my final English class of the week, I confused them by saying I’m 20 years old. They only know numbers up to 10. And then I read out descriptions of monsters. Because why not? And because they’re learning about body parts. Afterwards I headed home through the snow, because the snow has made a reappearance. Which has sent my internet screwy. And though when I got in, I really ought to have been productive, I watched The Jane Austen Book Club instead. But now I’m going to go be productive. Well I say that, I have a skype session planned in ten minutes. But either way, I shall bid you farewell. Bis bald.

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