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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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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. 

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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?)