The Last Week

Guys, it’s finally here. My last full week in Germany. Well that nine months went quick. Did it feel quick for anyone else? I mean, I swear I got here a month ago. Anyway, on with the week.

Monday I was in Ilmenau having a wander, posting stuff, generally doing the day to day stuff of living here. Which is soon not to be my day to day routine. Seriously, where has the time gone?

Tuesday I was at the Freizeit Zentrum with all of the 3/4 classes, doing arts and crafts based on Knights. These included wooden swords, cardboard shields, princess hats (you know, the pointy ones with wafty cloth sticking out the top) and hobby horses. It is my greatest sadness that I did not get to make a sword as well. But I did get to watch the kids bashing each other to bits with them… Why we armed kids who hit each other anyway, I do not know. Because we were at the Freizeit Zentrum I went and had a look at the animals and was quickly joined by Miriam who was greatly amused by my habit of making animal sounds at the animals.

Tutoring was on Tuesday this week rather than Wednesday, so we ran through all of the memory games and dominoes that I’ve made over this year. I gave Luka and Vicky two Roald Dahl books each and in return I got a guide to Serbia with Luka’s home town circled on it and the instruction ‘visit here’.  Then I was at my last CV ever, where Kim insisted on telling everyone. Which was sweet. Awkward but sweet.

Wednesday I was back at the Freizeit Zentrum, this time with all of the 1/2 classes, doing arts and crafts based on Native Americans. My main contribution to this was explaining what a peace pipe was, that yes it was pipe you smokes and don’t use them as makeshift weapons. Seriously, what is it with kids and hitting each other?

When we got back to school, I had my farewell from three teachers because I pretty much couldn’t have picked a worse day to be my last day at school and everyone was busy. But I have a card signed by everyone and a brand spanking new huge towel. And I got hugs from my favourite teachers, so that’s pretty rad.

Thursday I started to pack up my room. I don’t know how I have so much stuff. Thank heavens Dad’s coming to pick me up.

Friday I did some more packing (a constant theme for the rest of this week) and I went into Ilmenau to post stuff and generally have a wander.

Saturday I went into Erfurt for the last time. Went to the Cathedral and mourned the soon to be lack of elven architecture in my life. Went to my favourite book shop possibly in the world. Generally wandered and tried not to freak out that I might never be in Erfurt again. Remembered that the Great European Adventure requires me to change train in Erfurt so it’s fine.

Sunday I finished packing for the Great European Adventure. What’s the Great European Adventure I hear you ask? It’s what I’m doing for the next two weeks. Berlin, Warsaw and Budapest. All before I head back to merry old England. Because if I don’t take advantage of the fact that travel in Europe is super easy, what is the point of my year abroad?


A Suspicious Abundance of Well-behaved Kids

So, this week began, as most of them do, with tutoring prep on Monday. I decided as it was the penultimate week, I should do a recap of all the stuff that we’d done, which meant making a crossword and a match the sentence sheet.

Tuesday I was at work, though I wasn’t needed in my first class as the kids had a competence test which the English teacher had forgotten about, so I wound up supervising a class who were typing up stories on Word. I appreciate I’m 21 and not 8, but I was still a little shocked that none of them knew how to change the font size on Word. Happily, explaining how to use Word auf Deutsch isn’t too difficult. Or at least it isn’t as long as the kids listen. I also had to explain to them that the computer doesn’t know every word in the dictionary and sometimes it’ll tell you you’re wrong when you’re right. Especially if you’re typing up from a piece of work your teacher has already corrected. Not that they listened.

In my second and third class they were practicing dates and numbers and colouring in. None of which really requires me, but the colouring at least means, that for the most part, they all behaved. In the evening I made dominoes for tutoring to recap vocab from the year, which meant going back through what we’ve done this year. Which is a lot more than I thought.

Wednesday began with circle time and that class found out it was my last lesson with them. I’m going to miss first period on Wednesdays. It always starts with circle time and there’s always at least one kid who says they’re happy that I’m there again. And Jonas always remembers to include me in circle time despite me never actually sitting in the circle. We didn’t actually do English because the dentist was in school so the kids were in and out of class. But I did learn about what teeth are called in German.

Second period I talked about birthdays and then we played pass the parcel. Which had some of the kids very excited. So much tactical playing went on. In my third class I wasn’t needed and in my fourth I was supervising colouring in again, advising on what colour to colour apples.

At tutoring we did all the recap stuff I’d prepared and then the kids made pictures of their favourite topics from this year. For Vicky it was animals and for Luka it was London.

On Thursday I did German with Klasses 3/4c for the last time, and for the first time in the whole year they were all super well behaved. Still a little smartalecy,but well behaved none the less.

Friday began with the topic favourite places. I’m glad that while they’ve been doing favourite places they haven’t asked me, because trying to explain why Harrods food hall is my favourite place is difficult. And then I was asked to explain telling the time. This is difficult because here in Ilmenau they tend to use regional terms rather than standard German for the time. So instead of explaining English to Standard German, it was a case of explaining English to Standard German and then attempting to say it in Ilmenauese as well.

In my second class they went round the circle to wish me luck and happiness and sunshine and a nice new school for once I leave. We were doing about families still and I was listening to them explain their family trees to me. At the end one of the boys came up and said it sucked that I was leaving, and did I really have to go back to England? Which was super sweet.

In my final class they were doing colouring again, and yet again a normally rowdy class was very well behaved. I think there’s something in the water.

Saturday was spent not doing a fat lot. On Sunday I did the Brits proud and forgot to put any sun cream on and now my back is burnt to a crisp. Well done me. I also started packing, which basically entailed putting my winter clothes in a suitcase. All hardcore packing is waiting for next week. So if I’m unreachable in the second half of the week, it’s because I’ve died under the weight of all the packing. 


Pass the Parcel Overload.

A confession: I may have somewhat forgotten to write this blog post. Hence it’s sparseness. Blame the weather and the fact that I’m leaving soon has suddenly hit me. 

Not much was done in Monday. Tutoring prep and wandering round Ilmenau were the order or the day. 

Tuesday I wasn’t needed in my first class, which was fine, though there was an awkward moment where I used ‘sie’ meaning they and the teacher thought I meant ‘Sie’ as in formal ‘you’ and told me I could use ‘du’ aka the informal you.  Then in my second and third class I talked about birthdays. 
In the evening I was at a CV for the first time in about a month. Not much has changed. Except for the president.
First lesson on Wednesday was Maths instead of English which was fairly straightforward as it was one of the 1/2 classes. In my second and third classes I talked about birthdays and then we played pass the parcel. I have a class of kids who can’t read ‘cake’ but can sing along perfectly to Olly Murs. Then in my final class we watched A Very Hungry Caterpillar and I was asked the difference between muffins and cupcakes. (Answer: I have no idea.)
At tutoring we did about the weather – a giant map of the UK helping my impression of a weather person – and played Guess Who.
Thursday I did Maths and German on the computers with Klasse 3/4c, same old, same old.
On Friday, I talked about birthdays and played pass the parcel with my first class. Bored of Olly Murs at this point, I ended up using Queen. Because Queen is always appropriate music. In my second class I was talking about family, which included making a family tree out of pictures of my family. Also a discussion on whether half siblings and step siblings count as just siblings, which I didn’t really feel qualified to weigh on, seeing as I don’t have any siblings of any kind. Third and final class was watching A Very Hungry Caterpillar. 
Saturday was spent in Erfurt, shopping and generally enjoying the sunshine. It was really weird to think that it might be the last time I’m ever in Erfurt. I’m going to really miss this one book shop.
Don’t really remember what I did on Sunday, so I’m guessing it wasn’t a lot. Probably some tutoring prep. 



Of Birthdays and Mother’s Day

On Monday I went into town because I didn’t have a lot to do. I ended up chatting with a shop assistant about nothing in particular, and she said I had a slight accent, which gave it away that I wasn’t German. I would have thought the fact that I said I had no idea what size I was in German sizes would have given it away more.

On Tuesday I was back at work. In my first class I got to talk about birthdays, because it had been mine the week before. I talked very briefly about vocab like presents, cards and party. And then I talked about party games, like musical statues, musical chairs, musical bumps – every variation of musical games. Then I promised we could play pass the parcel on Friday. My other two classes were making Mother’s Day cards.

Wednesday began with my first class wishing me a happy birthday, which was very sweet, and then we sang songs about morning routines. In my second class, we did the same, and then in my third class we made Mother’s Day cards again.

At tutoring we went over how to say dates in English again, including birthdays, and then we made Mother’s Day cards. Are you sensing a theme?

Thursday I was with 3/4c doing maths on computers, and it turns out I can really struggle trying to explain maths in German. Thankfully, that’s not what I’m being paid for…Well, it kinda is. Ugh. Anyways, after work, I headed to Langewiesen to pick up a package. The package contained Frozen and, after walking the 4K back to Ilmenau (my D of E instructors would be so proud), I finally got to watch it. It’s super good. I may have watched it twice in one day. 

On Friday I played pass the parcel with my first class, and then again with my second class. Though we also played Musical Bumps in my second class – a game, apparently, hitherto unheard of in the Karl Zink Schule. We also did some conversation practice because school is not just for games, guys. In my final lesson, we made more Mother’s Day cards. This week has involved lots of cutting and sticking.

The weekend has been fairly relaxed. I went into town and managed to forget to do half the things I intended to. This is why I should write lists… I also caught up on sleep. Going back to work is tiring kids, stay at uni. 


Easter Holidays, part two

As I’m sure anyone who’s talked to me since Christmas can tell you, my Dad was coming to see me for my birthday. And my birthday happened to fall during the Easter holidays. So this was an excellent plan. Dad was going to pick me up on the morning of my birthday, so I could go have breakfast with him at the hotel. Solid plan.

Dad picks me up, takes me to the hotel, I walk into the breakfast room. And bam. Surprise family. My grandparents and aunts had made the two day trip as well. Huge surprise. Think I’m still a little in shock over it, a whole week later. But yes. Huge surprise. Good surprise. Huge good surprise.

The first thing we did, after breakfast and presents and me trying to stop being surprised, was head to the Kickelhahn. It’s a tower on a hill that looks over Ilmenau and it’s important for reasons, and there’s a vague thing that if you’re at the university here, you have to go to the Kickelhahn once a year (or maybe once semester) otherwise you’ll fail. I had not yet been to the Kickelhahn, because walking all the way up sounded a lot like D of E, and I’m not doing that again. So we drove towards it, only to find that you can’t get all the way up there by car. Walking up took a lot of energy, but I think the view was worth it.


Behold the Kickelhahn.

Afterwards, we headed into Ilmenau so I could show my family around the town that’s been home for the past few months. Then in the evening we went out for tea, which was lots of fun, and an excellent end to my birthday.

Thursday we went to Erfurt, where the weather was all kinds of bleh. But the cathedral was beautiful as always.  It was, however, May Day so most shops and things were shut which made wandering a little aimless, but with good company it didn’t really matter.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Erfurt cathedral looks like something from Lothlorien or Rivendell.

Friday we went to die Wartburg, a castle in Thüringen important for many reasons, not least among them that Martin Luther translated the New Testament there. It was my third time there and by this point I know the English tour of the castle pretty well. However, it’s always interesting, and I got to show off my epic knowledge about St Elizabeth of Thüringen, which, shockingly, I don’t get to do often.

Saturday was the final day with my family, and it involved ice cream in Ilmenau and then lunch at a restaurant in Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig, which was possibly the best food I’ve ever had.

Having my family around for my 21st was a massive surprise and super good. Even if I did end up speaking so much German in cafes and restaurants. Though that is the point of a year abroad. 


Easter Holidays, part one.

I spent the first week of the Easter holidays in Dresden, visiting Manda, who you may remember from several posts before Christmas. As always, it was epic, especially as when one has a whole week to play with, one can do so much more stuff.

So I got there on the Monday and after chilling in Manda’s new flat for a while, we went back to her old flat, because she’d been invited for tea and her old flatmates very kindly invited me as well. It was lots of fun, especially with a German language only rule imposed, that one of the German guys flagrantly disregarded. The highlight of the evening was definitely me and Manda letting England down, when neither of us knew that you’re meant to leave the tops of asparagus on. Seriously, who knows these kinds of things?

Tuesday was a very chilled out kind of day. After first going via an English foodstuffs shop and a bakery, we sat in the park for ages, soaking up the sunshine. Then we went to the military museum, which had lots of swords and armour and interesting things. In the evening we went out, having fantastic cocktails in various bars, before going to student night at Katy’s Garage. Totally didn’t end up on the dance floor because of Call Me Maybe. No. Never.


A fabulous helmet

On Wednesday, we shopped.

And then in the evening we went to the cinema. So one of the Dresden cinema’s does a “sneak peak” showing of a film soon to come out, which is what we were at. We saw Legend of Hercules. Don’t bother. Seriously, seriously, don’t bother. It’s terrible and not even in a good way.

Thursday was a day of adventure. We went to the Kulturinsel Einsiedel, which describes itself as a theme park without the rides. What it actually is, is awesome. There’s a wizard’s word and an enchanter’s castle, treehouses at every corner and tunnels running underneath the site. I’m not sure pictures really do it justice.


The wizard’s wood.


We had a lot of fun exploring and moaning about how many kids were there. There’s a festival there in summer, which looks like insane amounts of fun, and you can even stay there in treehouses. It was crazy good fun and just…yes. Though I don’t think Manda’s ever going to forgive me for suggesting we climb the windmill and go through the connecting tunnels. They perhaps weren’t built with twenty one year olds in mind.


Crawling through a wire tunnel several feet above the ground was actually scarier than i expected.

On Friday we went and sat by the Elbe for a couple of hours, which I think was something we managed to do almost every day. Friday was special in that I fell asleep for a good hour. Did I mention the weather was beautiful the whole week? When I’d actually woken up, we headed to Zwinger, which is a palace in the old town. Nowadays it houses an art museum, that we did not go into, but we did look at the postcards, so same thing, right?

Following our cultural excursion, we made apple crumble and then we went to a restaurant whose name I have totally blanked on. It began with a V. And it was like Subway for pasta. Delicious, cheapish and they make it in front of you. Though that last one is a little awkward, especially when the chef is cute and bored.

Saturday we chilled, sat by the Elbe and then I headed back to Ilmenau. Where the weather was most definitely not beautiful. But Dresden was so much fun, though as ever, it was down to the company.


Seriously. So Much Easter

So Monday was spent not doing a fat lot. I really don’t remember what I did particularly. I assume tutoring prep like every week. Mondays are not the most interesting days.

In my first class on Tuesday, we sang a song about spring time and then the kids made a book out of a work sheet about eggs (because it’s Easter). It then turned out that neither of the other English teachers were in school, so I wasn’t needed for the rest of the day.

Tutoring was on Tuesday instead of Wednesday this week, because of reasons. The kids told me what happened in Fanastic Mr Fox, and we did some colouring and a wordsearch and it was generally fairly chilled. Then I pelted it home to get to the Café meeting on time.

My first lesson on Wednesday was cancelled because of an absent teacher. So in my second class I was in the class I’m not normally in, where we made Easter cards. My third class was also cancelled, and then my fourth class was making Easter cards again.

Thursday I did German with class 3/4c on the computers, which they proclaimed super easy, and I was actually, for once, inclined to agree with them. And thus ended the term. Which I’m super happy about, not because I hate school or anything, but 1) I need to catch up on sleep, and 2) it means I get to see Dad in two weeks.

Thursday afternoon, I actually went to the BC café not for a shift but to actually use it as a café, which was novel. And also pretty cool.

Friday, I forgot it was Good Friday, until Facebook reminded me, so I spent most of the day watching Game of Thrones series 1. Seeing as everyone seems to be talking about the new series which I can’t watch yet, I wanted to feel a little involved. Also, Game of Thrones.

Saturday, I realised an hour before all the shops closed that I actually needed to buy things in town, so got dressed in three minutes and legged it. Made it, bought things and then spent the rest of the day watching Game of Thrones series 2.

Easter Sunday I realised I had no Easter eggs. To get over that, I packed my suitcase, ‘cause I’m headed to Dresden tomorrow to see the ever lovely Manda. 


An Abundance of Easter

(Note: My internet is still down, hence this being super late. Apologies if anyone is desperate to find out how my week was.) 

So as I spent Monday travelling back form Bruges, my week begins on Tuesday. This week it was reading week at school, so there were lots of things going on, like book sales. And kids reading, everywhere. In my first class I talked about Easter, which included giving the kids a cadburys mini egg each. They thought that was fantastic, but what kids don’t like free chocolate. In my second and third class, we were doing about Easter as well. It basically boiled down to ‘do you have easter egg hunts?’, to which my reply of ‘well, I’m twenty so no’ went down fairly well.

I didn’t go to the BC Café meeting, because I super needed to catch on sleep from the weekend. Travelling’s tiring, yo!

Wednesday my first class had maths instead of English, because of the reading week (no, I don’t understand how that works either), but it meant I was helping in a class that already had a teacher and two teaching assistants. My second and third class was cancelled, because again, reading week, so I had a couple of hours of finishing off tutoring prep for that week. My final class were again doing about Easter. The easter rhyme they’re learning is ‘Easter eggs are yellow. Easter eggs are blue. Easter eggs are red and green. Here is one for you.’ It does not rhyme in German, as every class thus far has told me when they’ve translated it.

At tutoring we read a heavily edited version of Fantastic Mr Fox. I made them stop halfway through to do a wordsearch and both of them moaned so much, because they wanted to know what happened. That’s the first time they’ve ever wanted to do actual work over fun stuff. At the end of the lesson, Luka asked if he could borrow the book, so I let him. Whether or not he’ll get all the way through it, I’m not sure.

Thursday I got to help judge the reading competition. It kind of felt like being back in a listening exam, but at least for once, it wasn’t me being marked.

On Friday, all of my classes were doing Easter again, so there was much talk of easter eggs and chocolate, and not much else. Friday evening was the start of the BC Café’s birthday week, which began with an electroswing night. It was all kinds of fun, even if I didn’t do any dancing.

Saturday evening, I was out again, at a flat party. Again, lots of fun, but this time round, I did all of the dancing.

Then on Sunday I went to brunch at the BC Café, before leaving to spend the majority of the day bemoaning my lack of internet, especially as I was meant to be skyping England. Then in the evening I helped Therese translate something from German to English, which really hurt my brain. You would have thought I’d be better at this by now. 


Illness, Illness Everywhere

Monday was a day spent doing prep for lessons on Easter. This mainly involved finding pictures of Cadbury’s crème eggs and getting them printed off in town. I also whinged about having a cold, because I am a massive whinger, and what are colds for if not to be whinged about?

Tuesday I was at work, despite the fact I felt like my brain was made out of cotton wool. This meant thinking in German was harder than it normally was, and this was not helped by one of the kids having a tantrum because I said her name wrong. I try very hard to say people’s names right. It’s just difficult when the names are spelt the same as in English but pronounced differently. Michael as ‘mish-ay-el’ I can cope with because it’s very different. Saying ‘Ashley’ as ‘Eshley’ is a tad harder. But yes. Despite the cotton headedness, I taught both my classes about wild animals, fairly successfully. Although I’m not sure if the kids were playing up more than usual or if my temper was shorter than usual, because ill.

Wednesday I was at work, and in my first lesson, I was meant to be doing a lesson with one of the guys on placement. However, he’s been ill (are you sensing a theme here?) and although he was in school on Wednesday, his voice was basically non existent, so I did the lesson by myself. I accidentally put up a picture of a goose instead of a duck, but other than a couple of coughing fits and the kids laughing at my pronunciation of English words, it was alright.

As an aside, on both Tuesday and Wednesday kids laughed at my pronunciation of English words, and I think it’s because my voice is so much lower than usual at the moment, thanks to the aforementioned cold. What I don’t understand however, is why that’s funny. They’re laughing at words they’ve never heard before said by a native speaker. That’s like me laughing the first time I hear someone say Hörsaal (lecture theatre) or  Verkehrkreis (roundabout). Ah well.

Three quarters of the way through that lesson, the teacher insisted that I go home. I insisted that I was fine, and she told me that I looked ‘blass’ – a word I can only assume means ‘terribly terribly unwell’. (Sidenote: it actually means ‘pale’, but that’s not as interesting.) And then she sent me home. So the rest of Wednesday was spent half watching films and half sleeping. What an exciting life I lead.

Thursday again, I wasn’t at work and spent most of the day preparing for my trip to Bruges, by packing and watching ‘In Bruges’. I also went on a wander through the woods when I got bored of being inside and all the trees turned into the monster trees from Snow White, so now I have some fantastic scratches. I was feeling better, and the plan was to go to work on Friday. And then I didn’t fall asleep till half two. Four hours sleep do not a functioning Kathryn make, especially when she’s still not fully healthy.

So Friday has been spent checking and double checking my packing and generally not really knowing what to do with myself. But I’m headed to Bruges in a few hours, and a nine hours on trains will at least give me something to do – namely panic that I’ll miss my connections. 


A Week of Impressive German

Do I even need to tell you what I did on Monday? I did prep for tutoring, as ever. All about mythical creatures this week. I also made cheese scones, which I am very proud of because I have no scales so it was all done on guesswork.


They needed more cheese. But most things do.

On Tuesday, my first class were still doing about houses and furniture. Which is getting a little boring for me, but they’re still enjoying working through the millions of worksheets, so it’s all good. I ended up swapping classes for my second class, and instead of being with the normally rowdy class I was with a normally decent class. Who, on that day, decided to be way worse the normally rowdy class. I have never felt more like an adult than when the words ‘yes, it’s snowing. You’ve seen snow before. Sit down!’ came out of my mouth. My third class were thankfully lovely, and got on with writing about animals fairly quietly.

Tuesday evening I forgot there was a BC Café meeting and skyped England instead. Whoops.

On Wednesday I was at the fire station with one of the classes, who were super excited about the fact that I was going with them for five seconds until they realised I’d tell them off for messing around in the road. The kids were at the fire station to learn what to do in case of a fire and a little bit about what firepeople do. It was very boring.


The llmenau fire station

So periods 1-4 were spent at the fire station and then in my lesson, instead of being with my normal class, I was with one of the lads who’s at the school on placement, planning a lesson on farmyard animals. He wants to be an English teacher, so it makes sense. It was also the first time anyone with a decent level of English has gone ‘your German’s better than my English, so let’s talk in German.’ Excuse me while I squeal over the fact that my German’s improved.

At tutoring, the kids were awesome at naming the animals, and then describing them. There was a blip when Luka told me that girls can’t like dragons. But I pointed out that I’m a girl and I like dragons, and he conceded that I made a well put argument. By which I mean, he went ‘oh’ and then agreed that girls could like dragons.

The teacher I’m normally with on Thursdays was away so the kids were split up into other classes. I ended up supervising kids in the computer room reading about potatoes. Don’t ask, because I still don’t understand.All I know is that even the kids who normally mess around didn’t.

Friday I was at the fire station again and it was just as boring as on Wednesday. However, I got into an argument about the emergency services number in England after the dude said it was 911. Despite only half paying attention, my deeply hidden inner anti Americanisation, bowler hatted British personality surfaced. Apparently in the German dubbing of Fireman Sam, you have to call 911 to get him to come and save you. My argument was basically ‘it’s 999. I’m from England so…’ But as the kids were gathering their things to go back to school, the guy came over and was like ‘I didn’t realise you were English – your German is so good. Have all of the things ever.’ So now I have a magazine about fire stations aimed at kids, a kids activity book about fire, certificates saying I’ve achieved bronze, silver and gold level fire prevention knowledge and badges to go with them. Which is actually pretty cool.


Pro tip: Tell people you’re English and you get given stuff.

Saturday I made the two hour trip to Jena in order to some serious shopping. Items purchased include ‘The Shadowhunter’s Codex’ by Cassandra Clare because it was pretty, a copy of ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ which I finished on the train and socks that declare my love of partying.


You know it’s serious when you find it on socks.

And Sunday was spent not doing a fat lot, other than redying my hair. I’m back to tomato soup levels of ginger. All is well with the world.