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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?

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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. 

 

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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. 

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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. 

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Of Fasching and Spaghetti Eis.

Monday I went on an adventure. And when I say I went on an adventure, I mean I got up before 9 am on my day off so I could take two trains and a taxi to the customs office in Suhl. Once I’d taken two trains and a taxi, I then accidentally queue jumped. After not having to pay customs for my package (no, I don’t understand either), I then decided to walk back to the train station, despite the fact that I’d never been to Suhl before, the customs office was technically in a village outside of Suhl and it had taken the taxi like twenty minutes to get there. It was not my best adventure ever. However, I was reacquainted with Sub Wayne and discovered that Suhl has a weapons museum. So that sorted my weekend plans.

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My favourite fast food mascot.

On Tuesday it may have been Pancake day in the UK, but here it was Fasching. So I got up at 6, got pirated up and headed into school, not really sure what to expect. I keep calling Fasching German Halloween, and I still standby that description. The origins of Fasching are to do with chasing away the winter and the bad spirits associated with it, which is a little like how Halloween was supposedly the night where one could move from our world to the spirit world with ease or vice versa. So Fasching involves getting dressed up and noise. Lots of noise.

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Red Riding Hood and me. 

After a fashion parade by 3/4c, Fasching related work sheets, and the Hokey Cokey auf Deutsch (which I think was my biggest culture shock to date) there were two hours of…I was going to say chaos. But it wasn’t chaos. There were different games in different classrooms and the kids got to run around doing whatever they wanted. Stations included singstar, mask making and musical chairs (called Stuhl Tanz). With regards to costume, there were a plethora of pirates, cowboys and indians. And Star Wars wise, there were two Darth Vaders, one storm trooper and Darth Maul. They teamed up against the cowboys and I would like Hollywood to know you ought to hire these kids and get them to write you a film. Because based on the covert operations going on round the school that I kept stumbling across, I would watch that film. I don’t even like Star Wars particularly.

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Vampire and knight were popular choices of costume too.

The BC Cafe meeting was the last for a while, because exams have just finished over here, so they get time off. A whole month I think… But yeah, so I went, drank some free beer, made some friends, the usual. Also casually revealed that I’m English to people who thought I was German. Score one for my language confidence. I also ended up staying longer than I should have because it’s easy to forget that you have to get up at 6.20 when there’s free beer and good people.

Wednesday I helped in a German class for an hour. By which I mean I stood around uselessly as the kids did a test. They weren’t meant to ask for help and with a teacher and two teaching assistants as well as me, I seriously wasn’t needed. In my second lesson, the two classes that usually occur at the same time were conflated because one of the teachers was away at training. So as the kids learnt about numbers me and a work experience guy called Andreas did the worksheet in five minutes. Would have taken less time but we spent about four of those minutes trying to find a pencil.  My third lesson was cancelled because the teacher was, as just mentioned, away on training, so my fourth lesson was preceded by a free. The fourth lesson was spent doing the same as we did in the second lesson, so I am now very well up on English numbers.

At tutoring the kids were shocked to discover I’m a member of the public library, when I produced atlases. Side note: i spent a good fifteen minutes trying to find Serbia in these atlases and before thinking that maybe i should google when Serbia was reestablished as a country. Recently. The answer is recently. I will never again doubt my Grandma when she says they’ve moved countries since she was at school. We made coloured in maps of the world to show where we’ve been and where we want to go.

Thursday I was doing maths with 3/4c on the computers. I was called stupid by an eight year old, as I did mental multiplication along the lines of 8×53 in my second language. That was not fun. Thursday was redeemed by the fact that I discovered you can buy Spaghettti Eis from the supermarket. Spaghetti Eis is my favourite thing in the ice cream world. Even more than smurf flavoured ice cream. So Thursday started with angry Kat and ended with very happy Kat.

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Spaghetti Eis, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Friday I talked to a class about wild animals, though it took them about five minutes to figure out what ‘last weekend I went to the zoo in Erfurt’ meant. They went all round the Wrekin with ‘I would like to go to the zoo’, ‘did you know there’s a zoo in Erfurt’ and ‘when was the last time you were at the zoo in Erfurt?’. But they got there eventually, with a little help. It turns out it was the ‘last weekend’ that was tripping them up. I had pictures of the animals and we went through what they’re called in German and English. I also went through parts of animals, such as ‘mane’, ‘trunk’ and ‘feathers’.

In my second lesson, we repeated the names of furniture, sang a song about furniture and then the kids had to match the names of furniture to pictures of the furniture. The best thing about this was them trying really hard to get the w sound in ‘wardrobe’ which led to them sounding a little like Mr Tumnus asking Lucy about the land of Spare Oom and War Drobe. They did really well though, despite a couple of them thinking I would just tell them the answers without them putting any effort in.

My third and final lesson was cancelled, which I was happy about because last week the kids were awful in that lesson. Whereas this week it ended on a high note. Which is always lovely.

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School kids and other animals.

The weather was beautiful on Monday. So I went on a wander round the outskirts of town, which resulted in me wandering along a road in the woods, getting odd looks from passing Germans because I wasn’t dressed for hiking.

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In my defence, I didn’t intend to end up walking as far as I did.

When I finally wound up back in town, I had found a bookshop I’d never noticed before and had ice cream, because yes, it was that warm. I then spent the evening watching the entirety of Sherlock series 3, because the lovely Manda lent me the DVDs. So I now understand everyone’s references. Two months later.

Tuesday I was back at work. My timetable has changed, which means instead of starting at 12 on Tuesdays, I now start at 10. It’s a hard life. My first lesson was spent talking about animals. Many of the kids didn’t believe me when I said Panda was panda in English, and then I confused myself between ostrich and Österreich (Austria). I also had to explain that a polar bear was called a polar bear and not an ice bear.

In my second class, we headed to the library to watch a video, but the DVD player was mysteriously missing. This led to one of the girls squaring up to me and yelling at me when I said we had to go back to class. I honestly think the kids think they’re scary. I’m sure I would have been much more scared if I could have understood any of what she was saying… Ah well.

In my third and final class of the day, I did nothing. They were learning about directions, and I sat and observed. But after school, I headed to Subway. If you remember in this blog post, my last visit to Subway didn’t go so well. But this time I was prepared for them to think I was weird and I like to think it went pretty well despite a conversation that went:

Me: I only want cucumber

Subway person: So no tomatoes?

Me: No, I only want cucumber

SP: Should I put the lettuce on first?

Me: No, I only want cucumber

SP: You don’t want any other salad?

Me: No, I just want cucumber

SP: …

Me: …

SP: Sorry, that’s really unusual.

As I said, my timetable’s changed, so first on Wednesday I had English with 1/2a, where I did conversation practice about clothes with the kids. Most notable event was me saying ‘jumper’ and one of the boys thought I said ‘Schlampe’ (whore) which are slightly different words…

Then I had a lesson with 4d/e where I watched them do a play about Snow White for the fifty millionth time. They’re quite good at it now, though they do care more about the acting than saying the English properly.

I then thought I was meant to be with 1/2a during third period and duly went. We did English and the kids fought over who got to sit next to me. Then it turned out that they normally have music in third period and English in fourth, so from next week I’ll have fourth period with them and third period free. Ah confusion, my old friend.

Finally I was with 1/2c where they were drawing pictures of Fasching costumes. As far as I can make out, Fasching is essentially German Halloween, but every adult I ask about it appears to hate Fasching, so my understanding of it is a little patchy.

At tutoring, the kids were super excited that I brought Guess Who with me again. They were less excited about learning about nationalities, and I can’t say I blame them. In English sometimes the same word is used for languages and nationalities but sometimes not. In German there are almost always separate words, and the kids found it very confusing trying to get to grips with the English.

Thursday I still only have two lessons, but they’re now with the infamous 3/4c. That would be the class of terrors I used to be with on Wednesdays, if you’ve forgotten. I was supervising them in the computer room, doing exercises on the Subjekt and Prädikat, which would have been far easier if I knew what the Prädikat was. I also almost got into an argument with the teacher about a maths question. That was odd.

Friday first period I did conversation practice with five kids, four of which are the worst behaved in the school. That was…interesting. They decided they were going to swear and my immediate response was to correct their pronunciation. Don’t worry, I didn’t. Just fixed them with a death glare and moved on.

In the fourth period, I was teaching a class about the different types of houses e.g. detached, bungalow, terraced etc. I also showed them pictures of my living room in England and was asked where the Schrankwand (cupboard wall) was. Apparently, it’s fairly standard to have a huge cupboard in one’s living room with books and ornaments and stuff on it. The most difficult room for them to get their tongues round was ‘dining room’, as it’s typical to eat in the kitchen in Germany, and ‘wardrobe’ was the most difficult piece of furniture for them to remember what it meant.

All hell broke loose in my last class of the day. Well, I say all hell. It wasn’t the worst class I’ve ever been in, but any class where I’m left alone to supervise the kids who then decide they’re not going to do their work isn’t great…

Saturday, I went on a jaunt to the Thuringer Zoopark. I got very over excited because there were a ton of baby animals. I got an owl’s attention by saying Hedwig, quoted the Lion King at hyenas, and ate ice cream while watching the lions being fed, so it was feeding time for all the cats. (Cats? Kats? Yes, terrible pun. Sorry.) I also got many disapproving/disbelieving looks, because I braved the sunshine with bare legs. There was me, in a dress and a leather jacket and there was everyone else, in massive coats and knitwear. Is obviously my northern blood. Although Germans are Vikings so why they thought it was cold I will never know.

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Bison are my new favourite animals.

On Sunday I helped tidy up after a brunch at the BC Café and spent a lot of it wishing I spoke Spanish. The three guys I was working with all spoke Spanish. I had no idea what was being said. At all.

A highlight of my Sunday was skyping my grandparents, though they were most disappointed that I hadn’t blogged. So here is my blog of the week. Thank my grandparents. Otherwise I might have forgotten… (Joking, I would never. Mainly because how else would my friends know all about my life while I’m so far away?)

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Week long Valentine’s

Monday I was in work. This is a foreign concept to me, seeing as Mondays are my day off. However, I was asked to join class 3/4c at the Freizeit Zentrum (remember it from a couple of posts before Christmas?) to learn about animals in winter. Twas very interesting, and I learnt that a boar pelt is more bristly than soft, and that a deer pelt is the softest thing ever. Even more so than a rabbit pelt.

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I drew the line at touching the dead baby snake.

However, the kids managed to wind me up more than usual, and seeing as it was my day off, and I didn’t have to be there, I left early. Well, they say never to work with children and animals. The rest of the day was spent fairly productively. I applied for work experience, figured out what I should say about Valentine’s Day and produced worksheets for tutoring.

Tuesday, of course, I was at work. In the first class, I talked about Valentine’s Day then supervised as the kids made Valentine’s Day cards. In the second, I was greeted by four pupils who wanted to sing a song. Then the teacher turned up and said they good. So we were treated to a rendition of Lieder, a song that has been everywhere during my year abroad to the extent that I went and bought the CD. They were learning about directions which gave me flashbacks to year 8 or 9. Gehen Sie über die Brücke (Go across the bridge) has stayed with me ever since.

Tuesday evening I did not go to the BC Café meeting. Instead I stayed home nursing a horrific headache and skyping my grandparents. The latter was great, the former not so much.

When I rocked up to the bus stop on Wendesday, I was confronted with this fantastic piece of engineering. I have not stood under that bus stop since.

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Behold, the wonders of German engineering.

(Yes, that is a stick propping up a bus stop)

At school, the teachers and I was very confused about where I was meant to be, and ended up in two English lessons, talking about Valentine’s Day, and then in two English lessons I’m not normally in, helping to teach about clothes. Or ‘clothe-ses’ as the teacher began by saying. The day was rounded off by yet another round of Valentine’s Day Card making.

Tutoring was interesting seeing as Victoria was ill, so it was just me and Luka. We worked our way back through the names of the continents, some names of countries and then moved onto languages. I may have been mean and put dutch in there. But he did really well, and told me all about his plans for the holidays, which was really sweet.

My two hours on Thursday were not spent in uselessness! There was no maths test, just maths work, which meant answering questions about what they had to do, and then, when the teacher went out the room, keeping the quiet. And telling them to do work. Apparently they think that I won’t notice them swearing at each other if they do it in the midst of rapid German. 1) Kids are never as sneaky as they think they are and 2) they were swearing in English. So that went well for them.

Fantastically, I got a package from home on Thursday. I’d asked Dad if he could send me a couple of Valentine’s cards to show the kids and gravy granules, because I’d run out. Making excellent use of the remaining space in the box, he also sent me a stack of English chocolate. Though, I’m not going to lie, I was more excited about the gravy than the chocolate.

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Dad knows me well.

Thursday afternoon the nice man at the internet shop asked me if I’d considered getting normal internet as opposed to 3G, because I’m at that shop a lot. Awkward. Trying to explain that there is normal internet but I can’t access it because I’m not enrolled at the university is bad enough in English, never mind in German.

In other German encounters from Thursday, the power went in our kitchen. Now, I’m a grown up. I know to check the fuse box. Thing is that only helps if you know where the fuse box is. I did not. And nor could I find it. And nor was there anyone else in my flat. So I did the sensible thing and went to the site office. But because I don’t know what fusebox is in German, I couldn’t just ask where it is, and as I began with ‘the power’s gone’, next thing I know the guy’s promising to send an electrician type person over as soon as everyone’s back from their lunch break. Happily, Therese came home before that and was like ‘the fusebox’s here’. To her eternal credit, she didn’t make me feel like an idiot for not seeing it, though honestly, it’s in the hall – I am an idiot for not seeing it. This meant I then had to go back and tell the guy that no electrician type person was necessary, because I am an idiot, but thanks to my flatmate, it was all sorted.

Friday was the last day of school, before half term. In my first lesson the kids ran through a play about Snow White (in English) for the millionth time. For the last five minutes or so, I explained Valentine’s Day, but they were so not interested.

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Behold the extent of a lesson on Valentine’s Day.

In contrast, my second (and last) class of the day were a delight, and spent most of the lesson diligently making Valentine’s cards, all of which were presented to me for inspection. One of them was even given to me. I also got given chocolate by the head teacher “because it’s Valentine’s Day”, which was really sweet of her.

After buying lunch with the rest of the staff from a takeaway, I headed home, stopping only to buy flowers, because flowers are fantastic and if I didn’t buy myself some, I’d never have any. This evening Beth is rocking up to Ilmenau to cause mayhem and havoc…I mean, to visit me for a few days, which is all kinds of awesome. However, I should probably tidy my room and stuff, so I’ll leave you with a selfie.

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Way too excited that I put flowers in my hair.

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Procrastination, Perfect Children and Poetry Slams.

As you may remember from my last weekly update, I suspected I was getting ill. Thanks to this, Monday was spent in bed, feeling very sorry for myself and making endless cups of tea. Yes, even more endless than usual. Turns out I wasn’t ill. Just lazy and self-pitying. Ah well, what’s new?

Tuesday was a fantastic day, work wise. Since the Christmas holidays the kids have been brats. Like, tearing my hair out, why doesn’t Germany appear to have any penalty system in schools, why am I working in a primary school type brats. However, Tuesday was the day that 1) I convinced yet another class that Birmingham is where it’s at, not London, 2) I did conversation practice with six fantastic kids and ended talking about Indiana Jones and Assassin’s Creed, and 3) I was informed by one of the more rowdy kids that everyone at the school loves me. I’m sure that’s an exaggeration, but it’s nice to hear.

Of course there was a Café meeting in the evening, remarkable only for how short it was. I also learnt that while there may come a day when Dad doesn’t stress out because I’ve phoned him, that day will not arrive whilst I’m living in a foreign country.

Wednesday was a busy day as always, though in my first class I was mainly decorative. However, for the first time I joined in with chants from the textbook. I have now heard them so many times I feel like I’m never going to forget them. ‘Lots of spaghetti on a big big plate’ is going to haunt me till I die. In my second class I did conversation practice again. Upon hearing they could ask me anything, the two groups had very different reactions. The first group wanted to know if I was married; the second wanted to know what I thought of lightsabers. Priorities.

In class 3/4c we went on a 2km walk, so the kids knew what one kilometer was like. For once I didn’t have to tell the boys off for messing around in the street. Wednesday was the turn of the girls. It would be great if we could go somewhere without the kids attacking each other.

In my final class of the day, we sang some more chants and then I had to ask what colours had been assigned to numbers. Don’t ask. And then I was free to go home and collapse before tutoring. This week in tutoring the kids staged a mutiny against playing Memory, so I now have to come up with new, innovative ways of getting them to practice vocabulary. I’ll work on it when I’m more up to date with sleep…Wait, no, then I’ll never do it. I’ll work on it over the weekend.

Thursday I had my two classes as always. During the first they had a maths test so I wasn’t needed, and in the second they were doing Geography, during which they do not need help. Except for me pointing out that Rio De Janerio is a city not a country. The rest of Thursday was spent procrastinating, mainly by reading ‘It Felt Like a Kiss’ by Sarra Manning, because when one of your favourite authors has a new book out, you’ve gotta read it as soon as you get it.

My first English lesson on Friday was cancelled, so I helped in two German lessons instead. I marked Maths tests and listened to the kids read. My second English lesson was about animal body parts, so ‘mane’, ‘tail’, ‘beak’ etc. The kids found it hysterical every time I said ‘schwanz’ aka ‘tail’ because, apparently, it’s slang. I’ll let you figure out what it’s slang for. I also got into a debate with two of the kids about whether elephants can fly. They were citing Dumbo, and were shocked that I knew what happens in Dumbo. I forget that to them I’m old and therefore can’t possibly know the plots of Disney films. Being able to argue in German that Dumbo had a magic feather and normal elephants don’t therefore they can’t fly is probably one the highlights of this year. My third and final class were repeating numbers and colours. At least they were meant to be – they were more interested in hitting each other.

But it was finally the weekend and I had plans. Saturday I was at the house of one of the teachers, the teacher of the infamous class 3/4c. We had duck and dumplings (a typical Thüringen dish, I’m told), watched a fairy tale film, wandered round the village in which she lives, played Uno. It was a very enjoyable day, even if I was on my best behaviour all day. It was a little like visiting someone else’s grandparents without your friend as a buffer. But her husband said I speak good German and was thoroughly impressed with my pronunciation of ‘ü’ so I guess the best behaviour was worth it.

Sunday I went to a poetry slam because I’m under the delusion that if I go to cool things, that’ll make me cool. It was pretty good – I understood 90% of what was said, so yay me. I’m just thankful I didn’t have to analyse it. As for my Sunday evening plans, I have a date with several cups of tea and Chicago. Partying hard as always.

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Of Children and Classes.

So Monday mainly involved lesson planning for tutoring. Having given the kids a test last week, which they aced, I don’t need to retrace introductions, family or descriptions. So I decided to move onto countries. It turns out I needed beolingus.de (a german dictionary site) at hand at all times while making work sheets, because I know none of the countries in German. I even forgot Spain. Which is Spanien. Ah well, it all worked out in the end.

Tuesday I had work as usual. In my first class, Vincent decided he wasn’t going to play ball, which led to me perfecting my “I don’t care who started it, I’m finishing it” voice. Ashley wanted to know if her name is English or American, and when I said it was an international name, she decided it was definitely American because of Ashley Tisdale. And then one of the other girls told me she has the exact same T-Shirt as me. I have the same T-shirt as an 8 year old. I’m not really sure how to react to that.

Of course, there was a Café meeting. Don’t really remember much about it, other than talking to Kim about Torchwood. And being shocked that someone I’ve spoken to once remembered my name.

Wednesday kicked off with me being asked to write an English poem on the board, which I did no problem. Fifteen minutes later I realised I’d written ‘Snowmann’ not ‘snowman’. In my defence the teacher didn’t notice that I’d capitalised the s and doubled the n.

In the next lesson I got to talk about my home town  and Birmingham again. I think the most interesting thing about that particular lesson is that whenever I write up ’26 000, 67 594, 1 085 400’ on the board and say that the 26 000 is the population of Ilmenau, and then ask what could the 67 594 mean, the kids always ask if that’s the population of England. I mean, I know we’re smaller than Germany, but come on.

I wasn’t with class 3/4c for lessons 3&4 because they had important German things to learn, so instead I was in two more English classes. Talked about breakfast some more. Got to go to classes I don’t often see. Was pretty chilled considering I found out on the day I was doing it.

And then finally, I’ve been saying for the past few weeks that the class I’m meant to be with last doesn’t have English then any more. As of this week I go to a different class. The kids love me. I mean, seriously, they were super excited to see me. This is a class I haven’t been in since October. Oh, it’s hard being a Foreign language assistant. (Note the sarcasm.)

Thursday, surprise, surprise, the kids had a maths test. So I sat there for 45 minutes looking ornamental. But then! In the second half, I got to do reading with the dyslexic boy, which was interesting. As I believe I have mentioned before, I do not know how to say every German word. Yet I’m trying to correct his pronunciation… But he did really well this week. So yeah.

Friday I talked about Birmingham to one of my regular classes and have persuaded them that it’s better than London, mainly because of Cadbury World. Some of them had heard of Aston Villa FC, which was surprising to me, but then again, I know nothing about football. My two football facts are 1. Wolverhampton Wanderers are also known as Wolves (I thought they were different teams for the longest time) and 2. Dortmund sometimes play in yellow (I know this because I thought they were Hufflepuff). Another thing I mentioned about Birmingham was its’ partner cities. These include Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig. Now, I don’t know for definite, but I’m pretty sure the reason there’s two German cities in the list is that Frankfurt was in the FRG (Federal Republic of Germany) and Leipzig was in the GDR (German Democratic Republic). I asked the kids why they thought there were two and got some interesting suggestions (and was also asked why anyone would partner with Leipzig). But it was the teacher who eventually suggested that it was because of the FRG and GDR. Guess the kids haven’t reached that bit in history yet.

My second lesson was technically cancelled, but I’d been told to go to one of the other English classes instead. So I did. But that teacher had no idea I was turning up, and was teaching about nature and animals (auf Deutsch) when I rocked up. She asked if I was there to do English, and I said yes, and she left me to it. I ended up asking the kids their names, their ages and where they’re from and then singing head, shoulders, knees and toes with them, before the teacher realised that I didn’t have anything else to do with them and came and rescued me. Basics, I’d been told she would be expecting me and she wasn’t. So it was a bit of a surprise for both of us.

My last lesson I mainly spent telling boys off for battering each other. And telling kids it didn’t matter who was the last in the line. Seriously, why is that so important to primary school kids? I remember it being important when I was little as well. Madness.

Friday night I went out to paint the town red. Well, I went out to hang out with people, maybe do some drinking and dancing. It turns out that the best wine is free wine, boys can say problematic things in Germany as well as England and I can’t dance to hip hop. And apparently my pronunciation of Scheiße is spot on. Must be all the times I hear the kids at school say it.

Saturday was spent alternating between tidying and watching tv. Seriously. That was my day. And very enjoyable it was too. Sunday involved helping with the tidying up operation after a brunch put on by the BC Café. I got to meet a couple of new people, practice speaking coherent German to attractive people (not my strong suit) and generally stress out about whether the reason I was failing at tasks was because my German wasn’t good enough or if the instructions I was given weren’t good enough. Turns out it was a little bit of both.

Sunday evening I hung out with Ausama and horrified him by the pronouncement that I don’t like olives. Think I reassured him by liking cake and wine. But there was a good ten minutes of discussion about why I don’t like olives.

And as my final note on the week, Therese’s been ill most of the week, as has her boyfriend, though happily they are now better. But our flat’s reputation as a plague house may have to continue for a while longer, as I think I’m getting ill. So if my weekly update for next week is essentially ‘I felt blah the whole week and didn’t really do much’ I apologise.

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Kids, who’d ‘ave ’em?

Happy weekend, dear readers. The sun is shining, I got ten hours sleep, and as long as my iTunes doesn’t decide to wipe my library again, it’s going to be a lovely day. Now, as I mentioned, I’m headed to Berlin to tomorrow, so I’m going to catch you all up on my week now, because the kids have been…annoying this week. And by annoying I mean, alternately horrific and amusing.

So Monday, as ever, was lesson planning. This week it was a lesson about Birmingham and Walsall, which mainly involved wikipediaing the populations and comparing them to Ilmenau. For your reference, Birmingham: 1,085,400. Walsall: 67,594 (in the built up area). Ilmenau: 26,070. Then I did the ARD shift with Hauke (His actual name’s Felix, but apparently the BC Café has an infestation of Felixes). Was all fine, though I would like to take this opportunity to say that everyone does the ARD differently. I mean, there are certain things that everyone does, but no-one does them in the same order and then there’s things that only some people do. It’s a little confusing, and also means my most used phrase is always ‘what do you want me to do now?’

Tuesday I was at work and witnessed exactly how little discipline there is in German schools. Or maybe just in mine. Two 8 year olds got in a fight, and I mean, one of them was swinging around a key on a bike chain like it was a nunchuck type fight, not a your hair looks stupid fight. You know what happened? They were told off, and the parents were told. But that was it. Maybe I’m remembering primary school wrong, but we would have at least been sent to the headteacher for that. Maybe even lost playtime as well. Possibly, if it was a repeat offence, got detention.  These things do not exist in Karl Zink Schule. Which is awkward because now three teachers have asked me what I’d do, and I’ve had to go, well, *this* would have happened, but apparently you’re not allowed to do any of these things.

Wednesday is my longest day at school, but with one of the English teachers out sick this week, I only had four classes not five. The English classes have mainly been about the weather. The kids find ‘fog’ hysterical. Because they think it sounds like ‘fuck’. Wednesday also means my two hours in German/Maths with Frau Hilbert’s class, but this week, we went on an excursion. We saw the oldest post office in Ilmenau (no longer a post office, it’s a chocolate café), a house were Goethe lived, the chronometer (you can find out about that in this blog post) and then Frau Hilbert took it upon herself to explain to me why there’s a plaque of Jewish names in one of the town squares. Spoiler alert – it’s commemorating the Jews from Ilmenau who died during the Holocaust. Something, shockingly, that I already knew. (As a side note, some of the children were shocked that there were “German names” on the list, and it was very hard not to try and explain the whole ‘1) Hitler legally defined Jewishness so you might not have been a practicing Jew but would still have been considered a Jew, and 2) many Jewish people were fully integrated into German society, because, you know, they were normal people, and therefore didn’t necessarily have “Jewish names”.’ But I feel I’d be best leaving it to their teachers.)

Tutoring happens on a Wednesday and this week we recapped describing people. To aid this I took Guess Who? with me, which we ended up playing for half an hour. Firstly, because it’s an excellent tool to teach about distinguishing features, and secondly, because what I had planned only took them twenty minutes.

Thursday I spent two hours sitting at the back of a class, watching while they did a test. I was so much help that day. They really needed me there. (Note the sarcasm.) I really shouldn’t complain. Having so many friends who are FSA (Fremdsprachassistenten – Foreign language assistants)  I see many stories on Facebook of people going in and being kept hanging around for hours before they’re told they’re not needed (Also, I think if someone collated FSA’s facebook statii as a book, it would be fantastic. Someone make it so. And give me money for the idea.)

Friday, as anyone who’s my friend on Facebook or follows me on Twitter knows, I called a girl Emily. You wouldn’t think that would be such an issue as her name is Emily. But no. I said it in my English voice and she huffed back that “I’m not *English accent* Emily, I’m *German accent* Emily.” Which led to me thundering back ‘I’m sorry, I’m not German.’

To fully explain the scenario, she’d just thrown something across the room at one of her classmates. So I said her name as a warning. Clearly she knew who I meant, otherwise she wouldn’t have replied. And the German for Emily is something like ‘em-MI-li’. The differences between the English and German pronunciation are very subtle. It’s like I can’t say Vincent or Robert auf Deutsch. So yes. I also have a problem with this because the children can’t say my name. And yet I answer to all the variations they use. I know, I know, I’m an adult blah blah blah. But honestly.

Friday was also the day I discovered that 19 German eight to ten year olds taking it turns to say ‘sausages’ really warms your heart. One of my classes I doing about breakfast and their teacher told them to go and read out the vocab to me. ‘Sausages’ it appears is a difficult word for Germans to say. And they looked so frustrated when they messed up half way through the word. They all managed it in the end. Even if it meant I spent half an hour just saying ‘sausages’ over and over. The other word they had difficulty with was ‘honey’, which came out as ‘hon-ayyyyyyy’, which made them sound rather gangsta.

Which brings us to Saturday. My plans for the day are not grand. Perhaps finish watching series 4 of Being Human (I’ve been marathoning it this week). Pack for Berlin naturally. Maybe plan out next week’s tutoring. But whatever I do, I’m sure it’ll be a decent day. And I hope yours is to.