I had thought that I wouldn’t write another blog until after I returned from Oktoberfest in Munich, but then so many interesting things have gone on over the last few days that I figured I should write about it!
So on Wednesday, I had a lovely time assistant-teaching a grade 5 class. I helped the students correct their English homework, and I had actually brought in a few different English tongue twisters to teach them. They taught me some German ones, and then we went over the meanings and pronunciation of the ones I brought. The only flaw in my teaching was that one tongue twister was “shut up the shutters, and sit in the chair.” Unfortunately, saying this repetitively and quickly results in telling someone to shit in the chair as opposed to sit in it. I felt quite guilty that I was making these little grade 5 students swear in the classroom. But all in all, it was a lot of fun. I love working with the grade 5s: they’re still at the age where they have crooked teeth and don’t wear makeup, and are more concerned with having fun than with “looking cool.” They considered the tongue twisters to be a treat, and were all excited to try them out. I would say this group is my favourite to work with!
However, the next day I also enjoyed working with the grade 9s. It was quite a special day: I got to cook on a city bus. Here is a picture of what it looks like from the outside:
I had been asked to supervise students in the “kitchen” by another teacher, because they had a shortage of teachers with the time to do that. So I knocked on the door of the bus shortly before class began, and a girl answered. She figured out shortly that I was the Canadian she had been told about – she was a girl from London that has lived in Berlin for the last four years. Her and the four other people working there then offered me some coffee, and I entered the makeshift kitchen.
I tried to be discrete about taking pictures, but it was all pretty unique! 8 students soon arrived from a grade 9 class and were asked to sit on the counter space in the back. Then the girl I had spoken with described what we would be cooking, and we got started shortly afterwards. Four students and myself contributed to making veggie burgers and an herb “quark” which is quite a bit like sour cream. The other four students went to the top level of the bus and made fresh-pressed fruit juice and fruit salad. I cut a leek and spent the rest of my time yelling “careful!!” whenever I saw a student being careless with a knife. Then we got to eat what it made, and it was delicious. The bus works for a company that promotes affordable healthy eating: they go to grocery stores and accept donations, and offer cheap, healthy meals for good prices, and they go to different schools teaching healthy, vegetarian cooking to students. It was a really cool concept! I got to do it all again with another 8 students for the next class, and we once again made a delicious and healthy meal.
On Saturday, Sebastien and I went with a group of friends to an Oktoberfest that happens in Berlin. Unfortunately I didn’t bring a camera or phone with me because I was afraid of it getting lost, but I’ll try to describe it all without the use of pictures. We met first at a bus station for a bite to eat and a bit to drink while we waited for everyone to arrive. I had let the people from my Orientation group know about it, and Seb’s group was also involved. There were probably 10 of us to begin with, but the group grew once we arrived. This was my first Oktoberfest ever, so I had no idea what to expect. The area around the beer tent reminded me of a very small Calgary Stampede: there were cheesy games you could play for prizes, and a few rides set up. There were also candy apples and sausages available. But we headed straight to the beer tent – Seb and his friends knew that getting in early is important, and from there you can feel free to leave and come back as you please. We sat at a table and had a round of drinks, and I witnessed my first round of litre-full glasses of beer. The deal is that you have to hold it and drink with one hand, and using both hands is not nearly as cool. Fairly early on, a few of Sebastien’s friends and I went on a ride outside – it wasn’t quite the same as Disneyland, but was pretty darn fun! When we went back inside, the place was slowly starting to fill up. There were a lot of women wearing dirndls, and men wearing lederhosen, as well as a lot of people wearing a type of party hat. I decided not to purchase a dirndl in preparation for Oktoberfest – I didn’t know I was going until fairly late, and I didn’t feel like putting in the energy to find one that was a decent price. I saw some dirndls for sale, but they were all at least 90 euros.
At one point, we began to dance on the benches we had been sitting on. There isn’t a lot of space to dance in between tables, so it is pretty normal for people to begin standing on the benches. You’re not allowed to dance on the tables though, or else you are asked to leave the tent. I was quite scared when I first began dancing on the bench – how would I know it wouldn’t tip over? But as I saw people stomping away to the beat, it became apparent that this is what those benches were built for. There was a reputable band performing, with clarinets and trombones, and everyone in the band dressed up in their Bavarian best. I saw one traditional Bavarian dance performed, and enjoyed listening to the music even if it was completely different from anything I usually listen to. Sebastien pointed out that, while I grew up around bagpipes, this was the sort of thing he grew up with. Apparently his parents used to play in a group that performed similar music to what we were listening to.
I have to say, it was a truly amazing experience. Before I knew it, the tent was absolutely packed with people, all dancing and enjoying themselves. More friends of ours arrived, and everyone enjoyed themselves. We would “cheers” each other regularly, often to a short song called “Ein Prosit.” (Think “one, two, three, sociable!) We began at about 3pm, and left the tent at midnight.
Tomorrow, I will be boarding a bus for Munich! There are about 12 of us going to Oktoberfest there, and I’m pretty excited about it. I’m not sure how it will all be, since we’re staying in tents and don’t really know if we’ll be able to make it into a real Oktoberfest tent. If we show up at 7am we should be able to get in, but we definitely shouldn’t show up any later than that. It will of course be a lot more busy than the one I was at yesterday, but perhaps that will add a whole new element to the experience. I’m sad that Seb won’t be able to come with me, but it was great that we got to go to the one in Berlin together. With any luck, he’ll be completely done with his school work by the time I return.
I’ll be sure to take my camera with me to the Oktoberfest in Munich, and will be sure to provide a detailed account of the adventures!
Thank you for reading this blog! I’m off to go and finish my preparations for tomorrow. I hope you all have a fantastic week ahead of you!