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Pockets of Joy

I don’t appear to have done a fat lot this week. Mostly it’s been work and tidying the house, because Christmas was still being celebrated here, even well after the twelfth night.

This means I have no exciting new adventure to tell you about, and I haven’t finished any books, and to be honest, being back at works means I have little brain for flights of fancy. And so I’m gonna tell you about some stuff that’s made me happy this week. ‘Cause the word needs some more joy in it.

  1. Snow
snow

Photo from One_Small_Beth

Yes, it snowed in the UK. Admittedly, in Birmingham we weren’t exactly fighting our way through huge snow drifts, but exciting none the less. It meant pulling out all of the hat, scarf and glove combinations and figuring out the perfect cold weather outfits .

2. Linguistics

This article has a great linguistic analysis of Donald Trump’s rhetoric. While I don’t hugely enjoy hearing about Trump,  I’m a massive linguistics nerd, and I really enjoyed reading this on the train to work.

3. Eat, Pray, Love

So I bought Eat, Pray, Love in the January Sales and thought that it would be a bit of light reading, that probably wasn’t any good. Facts: I was wrong. It’s hugely enjoyable and at points deeply thought provoking. Expect a fuller blog post at some point when I’ve finished it.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Porridge is a difficult concept.

As I was in Berlin on Monday, my weekly roundup starts on Tuesday. Not much of importance happened, other than I tried to explain porridge auf Deutsch, which was way harder than you would think. Oh, and I had a very serious conversation with one of the English teachers about how ‘girlfriend’ tends to mean more than a friend. This occurred after I’d used ‘meine Freundin’ and she translated it as ‘girlfriend’. I mean, I love Beth and all, but not like that.

Wednesday began with me talking about breakfast with yet another class. Trying to explain porridge does not get any easier, no matter how many times you do it. And then I went with 3/4c on a class excursion to the Town Hall. I met the mayor – lovely guy, very firm handshake. I’d get starstruck but I’ve met three regenerations of the Walsall Mayor, so meeting mayors is kind of old hat now. We also got a tour of the town hall, where one of the kids asked me if the EU flag was the flag of the United States. I had to very gently explain that just because a flag has stars on it, it doesn’t make it the USA flag.

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Me, 3/4c and Goethe.

Yet again on Thursday the class I have two hours with were doing a test, so I was very much a spare part. Though I did go make some copies of a worksheet for the teacher. From the thanks I got, you would have thought I’d done something impressive. Maybe she hates working the photocopier. Who knows.

Thursday evening I was hanging out with Ausama, which was pretty fun and involved cake. Cake is always good. He’s really sorry for me that I’m an only child. And he also thinks Dad’s awesome. You can tell he hasn’t met him. (I don’t mean it Dad – honest.)

Friday brought talking about Walsall to one of my classes. They think the art gallery looks cool, but other than that they couldn’t care less. Except for when I taught them some Black Country words. These were bostin (good), gammy (injured) and bost (broken). They haven’t quite got the accent down but they’ll get there. 

In another class we recapped the theme of breakfast, and yes, German kids saying sausages is still one of my favourite things. Thankfully I didn’t I have to re-explain porridge because I did that last week. Then we moved onto animals. Many names for wild animals are the same in German and English, it’s just the pronunciation that’s different. I also have to say, getting the kids to tell me what things are called in German is difficult, because they’re so eager to show off their English. Which, I mean, is great but unhelpful for me.

In my final class of Friday, I was the replacement CD player. Seriously. There was no CD player to be had (not even for ready money) and so, as an “echte Englanderin”, I was the replacement. Some of the kids find my pronunciation funny, because occasionally it’s different to their teacher’s. This is because Germans have difficulty with the ‘a’ sound – it often comes out as an ‘e’. So black becomes bleck, cat becomes cet and so on.

As for the weekend, it has been mainly spent watching Misfits, listening to the Beatles and marvelling that I now live in Narnia. Oh, and also cursing the fact that the ‘n’ key has decided it doesn’t want to be part of my keyboard any longer. If anyone feels like coming out here to fix it for me, I’ll pay you in chocolate and funny stories about the kids at school.

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If the White Witch appears and offers me Turkish Delight, I’m taking it. Love me some Turkish Delight. Especially if it’s Fry’s.

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And now the weather…

I asked my boss for the next 8 months, aka the headteacher at the school I’m working at, whether there’s a dress code, and as it turns out there’s not. Most people wear jeans, which excellent news for me, bearing in mind I live in my jeans. Jeans and dresses, that’s me.

However, in Thüringen (the state I’m going to be living in) it apparently gets cold in September, and it can be snowing from October. This is somewhat disconcerting, bearing in mind in England we’re lucky if we get snow at all. So I have gone on a mad dash to buy warm clothes.

This means I’ve been trying on jumpers in shops without air conditioning while it’s still warm, because the weather’s suddenly remembered it’s still summer. Which is even less fun than it sounds.

But I’m more excited about Germany now. The prospect of real snow in a country where they can cope with snow is making me look forward to it, for the first time in a good while. And the collection of jumpers piled around me is making the fact that a week on Sunday I’m leaving for a far flung place more real. And more than a little warm.