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German Farewells: The toughest part of travelling

Hi Everybody!
I am currently writing this post on the plane from Frankfurt to Calgary. Naturally, I don’t have internet access, so by the time you read this it will have been transferred from a word document to my usual blog.
I would like to use this entry as a chance to describe how my last few weeks in Berlin went. To be honest, it’s a bit of a selfish and boring blog, and more for my own memory than for entertainment purposes.
While the goodbyes were sad, I got to create a lot of great memories with the people I have befriended this year. While it is an unfortunate fact that travelling means having to say goodbye often, partings are sometimes a great way to let someone know that they have played an important role in your life. One of the inconveniences of not knowing a lot of German is that sometimes I couldn’t find the right words to tell someone they meant a lot to me; but I like to think that usually I got the message across.
The first goodbye gathering took place during my second-last week of work. A few of the students in my Conversation Course could only make it every second week, so we decided to have a bit of a party that week instead of waiting for my very last class. I brought in cookies that I had baked at home, and the lack of leftovers showed me that they were pretty well received! One of the grade six students was sweet enough to bring me a coffee mug, and two of the grade ten students gathered their funds to buy me more chocolate than I will ever need. A grade seven student brought me a bottle of champagne, which I’m assuming his dad bought. So much of my work this year was as an “assistant” and I spent a lot of time hovering in the background, and yet these students stated that their English was better thanks to the work I had done with them over the course of the year. It was a very memorable class!

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The next day was my last day with my favourite grade six class. When I first started working at this school, I never would have expected that I would enjoy working with younger classes; the idea of trying to keep a group of young kids under control seemed extremely daunting. However, while older students were constantly worrying about the impression they made on their friends, young students were eager to learn and would constantly put effort into their work – no matter how many mistakes they made. There were three or four classes that I worked with a lot over the year (whereas there were other classes which I only sporadically worked with), and I feel like I made a connection with a lot of the students in these classes.
Grade sixes are unfortunately not the best of secret keepers: the teacher I work with had told me there would be a surprise for the last half of the class, and as the students walked in, at least three asked her loudly about when we would get to eat. However, we spent the first half of the class being productive, and then the teacher announced we would be walking to an ice cream parlour nearby. It was a gorgeous and sunny day, and the parlour turned out to be on a pretty street I hadn’t really noticed before.

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The class also presented me with a group photo they had taken the week previously while they were on a field trip – and they had all signed the back. It is such a nice memento, and I think it’ll be great to be able to remember what each student looked like when they were so young.

There was one grade seven class that I consistently worked with throughout the year, regardless of other schedule changes. It was actually the first class I ever taught – it’s quite strange to think back now to how nervous I had been back in September. The teacher of this class was one I really enjoyed working with, and on my last day at work she presented me with a card that the grade sevens had all signed. On my last day (which was Wednesday May 28th, thanks to the holiday that was that Thursday) the English teachers all presented me with a few gifts as well: a coffee mug and notebook for when I go back to university, and a novel and card. I was so happy that they showed this recognition for my work over the year!

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I had two classes on that last day: one with a grade ten class, and my very last Conversation Class. The grade tens also presented with me a card – I really enjoyed preparing material for this class in particular, and I feel like they found me quite relatable as I worked with them this year. Conversation Class was pretty small, but there was one student who had gone home thanks to sickness earlier in the day, but made it to class since it was my last one. I was a bit emotional as I walked away from school that day; it was such an amazing opportunity to get to work there, and I can hardly believe it’s over.

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Besides school, there were other groups of people that I had to say goodbye to. While most months I tried to avoid doing too many costly activities, I didn’t want to miss out on anything in my last month in Berlin. I have a group of friends doing the same work as me, whom I met at the orientation in September. Right before my last week of work, about six of us got together for a night of Indian food and karaoke. There were plenty of cocktails involved, and a lot of laughs. Sebastien and I got home at about 7 in the morning from a night club, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how great a time it had all been.

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After that, we made sure to get together for one last “Sneak Peek” movie night. We actually read online that no sneak peek would be taking place that week, so we decided to go see the newly-released “Maleficent” instead. One of my lovely British friends, Sarah, came over before the movie, and we cooked a tasty vegan meal and watched “Sleeping Beauty” so that we would be all caught up on our Disney references before seeing “Maleficent.” We then met up with the others for dinner, and had a great time at the movie. That evening was my last time getting to see Sarah, as well as my Australian friend Simone. The goodbyes were unpleasant, but I have high hopes that I’ll get to see both of them again soon.

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The more I write, the more I realize that we had a lot of “goodbye” visits…one of my friends left on the same day as my last day of school, and we went out the night before that. Sebastien and I went out for one last “Sneak Peek” (I know I said “Maleficent” was the last one, but by this time there were only two from our original group left) and on that evening I was able to see two more of my friends for the last time. For the record, the movie was “Walk of Shame” and it was a pleasant change from a lot of the intense dramatic movies we had seen lately!
I had one week without work before leaving for Canada, and on June 2nd I had my last band practice with the orchestra I had joined in Berlin. The fact that I was leaving was announced, and we managed to take a lot of great group photos. We wanted to take one of us all posing with our instruments, and someone said that I should stand in the middle since I’m the one leaving – it’s a good thing I thought to lie my string-bass down on the ground and sit beside it, because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see most of the band! While a few people always agree to come out for dinner after practice, that week a sizable group all came along. We ate at my favourite Italian restaurant, and it was a lovely evening. A lot of people took the time to come up and say goodbye to me individually, which I found touching. I must have heard the joke “well, you’ll have to come back for our concert in November!” about thirty times, but I thought it’s very sweet that they want me to come back!

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During the week I had off of school, I also took the time to do a few “last” events for myself. I went to my favourite Irish pub for lunch, and sat there for about two hours reading my new book. I hear that that pub is insanely busy during the evening, but in the afternoons it’s quiet and relaxing. I also went back to my favourite bookstore one last time. I managed to resist buying any books, but enjoyed perusing the two-floor English selection for quite a while.
This past weekend, there was a Cultural Festival going on in Berlin. Sebastien and I, along with a group of his friends, decided to check it out. It was about 30 degrees outside, and there were about ten of us walking around enjoying the sunshine and the sights. The festival consisted of lots of food and drink booths from all sorts of countries, and at least four different musical stages with live music. My favourite was the salsa/Spanish stage, where performers effortlessly played types of music I’ve only heard in restaurants or night clubs. Some booths were serving coconut drinks straight from a coconut, and by about 4 in the afternoon there were coconuts littering the ground everywhere. The American contribution was mini-donuts and churros, which made me chuckle a bit. There were a lot of vegan options at the festival, since a lot of cultures thrive on this cuisine. I decided to stick with my langos, mainly because once I was hungry it was the first delicious thing I spotted.

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We spent a long time at this festival, but once we left, we headed to a bar with three of Sebastien’s closest friends. We didn’t stay long since we were all exhausted, but we shared a heartfelt goodbye. It makes me so happy to know that these people are my friends too, as well as Sebastien’s – I’ve known some of them for three years by now. I really hope that I will be able to visit again soon!
On Sunday, we had one last dinner at Sebastien’s parents’ house – and we enjoyed our meal outside in the 35 degree weather. I am so grateful to Sebastien’s family: while I am extremely excited to return home to my own parents, I have always appreciated the fact that Sebastien’s family is so welcoming.
Monday was reserved for just Sebastien and me to relax. I did all of my packing on this day (and was able to fit it all comfortably in my suitcases without exceeding the weight limit. Woohoo!) It was hot again, and we went for a swim in the lake nearby. Over the past while I have been asked countless times what Sebastien and I are planning to do since we’re back to long distance; we’ve been pretty good at managing it so far, and I think we’ll continue to do so without any trouble.
The goodbyes I have gone through have been tough, but they’ve provided me with a lovely way to truly appreciate the bonds I have created with different people over the course of this year. There were so many aspects of my life here – work, international friends, the orchestra, and Sebastien’s circle of friends – that I had to enjoy. In my short life, I have been to a lot of places, and been able to meet a lot of terrific people; I consider myself to be the luckiest girl in the world for this. While I hate having to leave Berlin, I am so excited for all of the people in Calgary I will be reunited with – and by the time September comes, I will be embarking on an entirely new adventure.
Sorry for all of the sappy sentiment! Thank you so much for reading this blog. It is because of positive feedback that I continue to write, and I am so lucky to have people that care about what I have to say.
Auf Wiedersehen,
Robyn

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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Travel and Working Abroad

 

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One Month of Teaching Insight

Hello there!

As you may have read in my previous blog entry, I have decided to make an entirely separate blog about my teaching experience in the last few weeks. As much as some of you are interested in hearing about my movie-watching skills and orchestra socialization (to find out more, please read previous blog!) some of you may want to hear how the work itself is going.

So far, I am still absolutely loving my job! The teachers seem to have a better sense now of how to make use of my being in the class. I am often asked to read things out loud, and when people are working in groups they seem to be getting more comfortable with asking me questions. One of my favourite days in the last few weeks was when the grade sevens were doing station work. They had written an exam for the first half of class, so for the second half the teacher set up different activities to help them practice their English. One of these stations was talking to me! I had been given all sorts of conversational prompter cards, but I hardly needed to use them. The students were more than willing to speak with me all about what they did on their weekends, and what their favourite movies and actors are. Sometimes when one of them didn’t know a German word in English, three of them would  have an intense debate about what the English equivalent was – I was very flattered that they wanted me to understand exactly what they were talking about. I loved the one class I’ve had with the grade five students as well – when I first introduced myself, they all raised their hands and asked me questions about my favourite colour and animal, and shared some of their favourites with me. The teacher emphasized that it would be rude to speak German in front of me since I don’t understand the language, and at this point they have better manners in English than I do (they say “may I” instead of “can I”! I forget the last time I remembered that rule!)

I think that one reason I’ve been enjoying working with younger students a bit more than older is that the younger ones are more willing to experiment. The grade sevens will use the words that they know in English to try and get their point across, whereas the grade nines seem more shy about what they don’t know. So, instead of trying out their English, they resort to constantly talking in German – I also often get the sense that they’re showing off for one another, based on their volume and animation in class. But a few days ago, a ninth-grade girl who normally never asks the teacher questions came up to me and asked me something. That pretty much made my day, and I think it indicated how the students are slowly getting more comfortable with speaking to me in English.

It also appears that I will soon get my individual “Conversation Course” up and running. Schools in Germany have a two week holiday in October, and after these are over I will be offering a 90 minute session per week in which students can come and practice English with me. I am unable to give grades, and therefore they are not receiving official credit for this course – so to make them a bit more interested, I have tried to focus on the fact that there will be no homework involved, and they can attend as few or as many times as they like. I have begun writing down different topics of conversation that I think they would find interesting, such as money, pets or nationality. I am planning to begin the first class with an episode of 2 and a Half Men that involves Thanksgiving – I feel that watching TV in English can be such a big help for students trying to become familiarized with the language. From there, I hope it’ll lead into more discussion about other things, such as Canadian Holidays or the misadventures of Charlie Sheen. Or possibly how much worse the kid actor got as the seasons went on. Who knows.

I have made an announcement about this Conversation course to a few classes now, particularly grade nine ones, and people seem to be showing way more interest than I had expected. After announcing it to one grade ten class that hardly ever seems aware that I’m in the room, I had about five kids come and ask me about it. Some would be unable to make it every week because they have a different timetable every alternate week, but I told them that is not a problem. While I am not worried about how few turn up (the fewer students, the more I get to talk individually and get to know them), I am starting to get a bit concerned that there will be too many. But I guess if that happens, I can start to offer the course more than once a week. My only other real concern is the idea that my Canadian technology won’t work and I’ll be left there gaping in front of students, but I guess I have to face that potential nightmare eventually! A lot of these students seem to be better with technology than me these days.

I find it interesting how direct Germans are – not that I should use stereotypes, but it seems more culturally acceptable, whereas Canadians will beat around the bush and be as polite as possible. Teachers have been telling students that if they participate in my Conversation Course a certain amount of times, they will earn a certificate that states they have put in a certain amount of time on their English skills. Today I was approached by a student who could see right through this certificate idea: she figures that it’s useless since it’s not an official Oxford document or anything that you earn through an exam, and universities will not be impressed. However, she is still planning on attending my first class. No pressure on me to provide an entertaining course or anything. The students do have oral examinations at some point though, and I think that this course can only be beneficial to them. Hopefully.

I’m also putting together a presentation on Canada to show the students over the next few weeks, but it seems that my notorious procrastination skills from university are making a comeback. So far I’m covering the topics of Canadian food, movie stars (Rachel McAdams – who knew??), pop stars, animals, and sports – and if I have time, I would like to go into the Canadian high school system. But first, I have to get that whole powerpoint concept under control. If any readers have any ideas of important things I should tell students about Canada, please let me know!

Today, there was an International Conference held at my school, and I was asked to partake because of my English-speaking skills. I believe there were about three groups, and I was shocked to find out how international the participants actually were! There was a teacher from Chile, one from Jamaica, Africa, India, and Paraguay. It was amazing! While the Germam principal of our school was trying to come up with English words using myself and another English teacher, the teachers from Chile and Paraguay were trying to figure out the correct things to say translated from Spanish. These teachers had come all this way to learn about the education system in Germany, and potentially bring some of those ideas back to their systems in their home countries. I found out that Chile classrooms consist of an average 40 people, while some in Paraguay have up to 60! And we thought 32 was a large class size. A lot of the conference examined how students at my school that excel in Science and Math have the chance to take on specialized classes and conduct experiments at certain university facilities. The more that I learn about what this school has to offer, the more I realize how lucky I was to be placed here. Students are really able to thrive in the areas they’re interested in; I work with one English honours class at the tenth grade level, and they’re all talented individuals who are enthusiastic to learn about the language. And the teachers are all dedicated to helping their students have the best experience possible; I never realized until this year how much work and thought a good teacher puts into challenging and provoking students. I had always just thought that they used the curriculum and never gave it a second thought, but it’s fascinating to see teachers from all over the world meeting together just to think about ideas they can bring to their home countries so that they can educate students better.

I told one teacher that I’m amazed at just how much he constantly has to do, he mentioned how the students and teachers have an interesting interaction. There is so much about the students’ lives that teachers will never know, and there is so much more to each teacher than the students know, and they only briefly interact in the classroom for a few hours a week. And yet school is such a huge part of a student’s life, and teachers spend so much energy working to educate students better. It’s all so interesting to me, after having spent so much time on the student’s side of things! One interesting observation from the teacher’s side of things was seeing a teacher pass out a new novel for students to read, and everyone groans…at first I thought “wow, really? One little book to read is an issue?” but then I remembered that this book was probably on top of six other classes worth of work they were expected to do. However, I did see one girl light up when they were assigned the book, and I’m pretty sure I recognized the grade-nine-me brought back to life.

Anyways. In my opinion, I still don’t think that being a teacher would be a great career for me. Students don’t always appreciate the effort you put in for them, and they have pretty short attention spans. But as much as I used to figure marking homework would be a terrible activity, I’ve enjoyed reading over a few students’ work and making (what I think are) helpful suggestions. I can also understand how the instances of students showing enthusiasm about what you’re teaching them can make it all worth it. But I think that the position I’m in right now is pretty ideal: I can help the students where it’s needed, but I’m not the one at the front of the class all day every day. I’ve been asking a bit more about if I can potentially volunteer in a library while I’m here, but I don’t like to ask too often since teachers already have an insane amount of things to do. I’m not sure if it’ll be plausible at this point, but you never know!

I think I have gone on enough about work for now. Thank you so much for reading my thoughts and reflections. Perhaps there were a few “duh” statements in there, but I hope you enjoyed it!

Bis zum nächsten Mal!

-Robyn

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2013 in Travel and Working Abroad

 

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Es fängt an! (And so it begins…)

Hello all!

As promised, here are all the details about my very first day at work!

While the orientation was exceedingly helpful in providing me with information about what to expect this year, there were a lot of things that could only be answered once I began the actual job. What sort of dress code I would be expected to uphold, if I should address my coworkers with the formal “Sie” or the informal “du”, whether I should let the students know that I speak any German or not. So, while part of me wished that the orientation could have lasted longer (great food, great scenery, great company) I was anxious to actually begin and see what the deal was.

After spending an excruciatingly long time trying to figure out what to wear for my first day, I hopped on a bus to begin my trip to school. Then I hopped on a train. Then finally hopped on a final train. It takes me an hour to get from door to door – I figure I’ll be reading a book per week with all the time it gives me! While Sebastien and I had done a trial run the day before, complete with locating the secretary’s office, it was about 20 times more intimidating to approach the school when there were a ton of kids running around. But I headed straight to the office, and it wasn’t long before I was found by the English teacher I had been communicating with. He introduced himself in English, and we started going over forms and the tasks that I have to complete such as getting a German bank account and registering my address. It’s a bit frustrating that the registration office is booked for a week solid, because I first have to register my address before I can get anything else done! But as of next Monday I can officially get the ball rolling on other things.

The staff there immediately made me feel welcome; I was introduced to various teachers as they were coming in and out of the office, and I was told right away to address people informally with the “du” tense. I had a meeting with the principal, head of the English department, and another teacher to sort out some of my working details. They were surprised that I could speak any German, and the principal was very complimentary at how good my language skills are. We sorted out my schedule for the semester, and I have been given Fridays off so that I can travel or do other things. The earliest that I start work is 8 am, and the latest time I leave at is 1:15.

At the orientation, the program manager had told us that teachers would be very excited to have us there to talk about our cultures, and we should make sure to speak up about anything else we wanted to get involved in. He said that some people in the past got into the band program at the school, or taught the kids about British sports, and some of them would join in on German classes. I definitely underestimated how true this would be! Everyone was very enthusiastic, and I’m pretty sure all the English teachers are fighting over me. The head of the English department recommended that I hold an English speaking class in the afternoons, where we can read a book or watch a movie and discuss it together (of course one teacher figured that the class will only have one or two students in September, and become full when it’s almost exam time). I mentioned that I play bagpipes, and was told that I should definitely take part in a show that will be held in December.

One aspect of the high school I’m working at is that it has a few partner universities – including the university that my boyfriend attends. I’m not sure exactly how this connection works, but when I mentioned the fact that I want to either take a German class at a university, or else join in a German class at the school, the principal was very accommodating. If I decide on what sort of class I would want to take at a university, he could get in touch with the department there to help me out. As for taking German at the school, there is apparently a student from France that is getting private German lessons with one of the teachers, and it would be possible for me to have one on one time with a teacher. And last but not least, I asked if there was any chance that I could volunteer at the school’s library. I’m planning on applying to a Masters in Library Science when I’m back in Canada, and I could use a bit of experience! They told me that the high school does not actually have a library, but they could possibly get in touch with one of their partner universities and see if I could work there. In regards to all of these different things, I’ll have to wait and see how they’ll pan out – but I was absolutely blown away at how willing they were to get me as involved as possible! It made me feel so incredibly welcome, and I’m so excited to start getting into the rhythm of things. Also, I found out that I will be receiving a student card, which will get me a huge discount on my bus pass from now on. Considering that my transportation was one of the larger expenses I was prepared to budget for, I was very happy to learn that!

After some of those details were sorted out, I was shown around the school and told a bit about it; the school is for grades 5-12, and while they don’t have a particular designation as an “Arts School” or “Science School” they do offer Honours classes and a wide variety of sciences. I will be working with grades 7-10; apparently the grade 8s are learning about Canada right now so I should try to prepare an entire lesson based around that (yikes!!) and present it to several grade 8 classes. This week I will do a ten minute introduction of myself for each class, and then spend some time observing what all goes on. I guess often I will do “partner teaching” with the main teacher, which sounds good to me. I have been given my schedule, and tomorrow I have one class from 8-9:30, with grade 7s. I have to be at the school at 7:30, so it looks like I’ll be waking up around 5:30 to prepare for a 6:20 bus. Luckily I won’t be starting quite that early every day!

When I left the school, I was feeling quite confident that this year is going to be a great success. Here is the photo I took as I was leaving:

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When I looked up the website for the school, I saw a photo of it in the fall, with yellow leaves on the trees…I’m really excited to see fall in Germany! I always love summer, but this year is going to be so full of new experiences.

On Friday night, I went out with Sebastien and his friends – it was great seeing them again! One of my friends from the orientation also came out, and it was a lot of fun chatting with him in German. I’m very determined to learn as much German as possible this year, and insist on people speaking with me in German instead of English most of the time.

As for what else is in my immediate future: tomorrow after class, I am going to do a free trial at a gym in downtown Berlin, to see what I think and find out if I could afford to continue going there. I’m a bit anxious about trying to communicate with people in German without Sebastien around, but we’ll see how it goes. Also, on Wednesday I will be attending an orchestra rehearsal, and reviving my long dormant bass-playing skills. Sebastien’s mom has kindly invited me to join her orchestra, and I’m excited (and nervous!) to see how it goes. At the orientation, we were told to say yes to everything we can, so I’m off to a good start!

Wow, that was a lot of writing, and unfortunately I couldn’t think of a lot of visual aids to add. But if you’ve read all the way to the end, I am so extremely appreciative! I’ll be sure to write again soon 🙂

Bis bald,

Robyn

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2013 in Travel and Working Abroad

 

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Orientation Time!

Hello all!

Well, I have officially been in Germany for over a week, and it has been a complete whirlwind! I have enough details in my head to make a very long and tedious blog, so I’ll do what I can to skip to the good stuff.

My 8 hour flight to London was quite pleasant, with an empty seat next to me and comfy socks and five Disney movies to pass the time. I had so much fun I think I could have stayed on the plane another few hours! The flight to Berlin went just about as smoothly, although reading Jane Austen was a bit of a struggle based on how tired I was.

Once Sebastien had whisked me away to his house, I had less than 24 hours to get rested up and unpack my two suitcases. We began driving to Köln in the evening to take advantage of the nearly empty highway, and got to the outer limits of Köln before taking a nap in the car. This meant that we made it to the Kölner Zoo bright and early the next morning – such keeners! The zoo was a lot of fun, particularly when we got to see hippos being fed apples. Watching crocodiles being fed dead mice was a little disconcerting, but also an educational experience, I suppose! Here are a few cutesy animal photos for your viewing enjoyment:

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After our day at the zoo, we found our hotel in Köln and went to an amazing Italian restaurant that was recommended to us by the hotel staff. I believe it was called “Imperium” although I could be wrong, but it was a crowded little place with lots of character and complimentary olives and bread with our tasty pizzas.

The next day, Sebastian drove me to the main train station in Köln, which is where I would be meeting everyone for our teaching orientation. Luckily I knew exactly where our meeting spot would be, since “the entrance with a view of the Köln Cathedral” was the same entrance I had been at with my WSP group last year. However, I’m fairly certain that that’s where the similarities between last year’s WSP event and this year’s PAD orientation end. While last year involved 15 or so Canadians, this year involved 140 people coming from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, and Scotland. The vast majority was from England, because for them this program counts as a year on exchange for university. The rest of us had to have a degree before we were able to take part. Once I found this huge group, we were all loaded on to buses and taken to the countryside. The place we were going to, “Maria in der Aue,” was isolated enough that we actually had to get off the bus and walk 20 minutes down a road to get to it.

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We made sure to say hello to some cows and ponies on the way down, as well as slowly started to talk to and get to know one another.

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The thing that I loved most about this orientation was the fact that, for the entire three days we were there, we never stopped introducing ourselves to more people. While I have had previous experiences where people form their own little groups and only hang out with the people from that group, I sat with a different group of people for every single meal, and was always welcomed and talked to. Everyone had so much to learn from one another, what with their different accents and culture, and it was interesting to hear about each person’s educational background. Everyone had a great sense of humour as well, and half the time I was amused more by the varying accents than by the actual jokes. I found out that I really need to work on my global geography…whenever I asked a British person where they were from, the only spot I knew a single thing about was London. There were only about five Canadians there, and I always find it entertaining that people from outside of North America have no idea where Calgary is.

The orientation was more helpful than I could have imagined, in regards to how much it clarified complicated details about my staying in a foreign country. I still have a ton of paperwork that needs to be dealt with, but I found out about my health insurance, how to register at my address here, how to get my visa, and how to get a bank account. I also learned a fair bit about what it’ll be like to teach; we were divided into groups based on where we will be living, and had to prepare a 45 minute lesson for our peers. They also organized the rooms so that people would be roommates with people going to their same city, which meant that I now have quite a few friends I could hang out with while I’m here. I enjoyed meeting friends that will be staying elsewhere in Germany though, and hope that I can visit them soon! Below is a photo of how gorgeous “Maria in der Aue” is, in all its isolation.

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The photo right above is one of the view from the patio. I’m not sure where the fun-little-caption-thing-below-a-photo has gone, but hopefully it’s not too difficult to follow along!

On the last morning of the orientation, we had to wake up at about 6am to get ready for the bus back to Köln. We were dropped off at the station, and I hung out with a Brit and an Australian for a while before my train to Berlin was leaving. I had been extremely nervous about finding my way to the right platform and the right train, but my British friend was used to trains and helped me find the right spot within a 2 minute period. Here are a few photos I took of the train station, including the Köln Cathedral from the opposite side.

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Once on the train, I ran into another girl from Britain, who was also heading to Berlin. We sat together and learned a bit more about each other, while also enjoying the German scenery passing by. I really enjoy travelling by train; it’s so fun to get somewhere quickly and comfortably while also being able to see the countryside as it whizzes by. That train took 5 hours, and at the end of it Sebastien met me at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (main station), where we then bought a local bus pass for the month and then continued home. On the way there, we took a detour so that Sebastien could show me how to get to the school where I’ll be working. I was extremely grateful that he did that, because it made my first day on the job that much easier! It felt pretty good to be so comfortable with the route, and the fact that I spent three months last summer travelling through Berlin meant that a lot of parts of the journey were familiar.

My first day at work was the next day, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. However, I am going to end this blog entry now because I have to get ready for this evening’s activities, and would like to give your eyes a break. At the orientation, we learned all about working with spans of attention and I don’t want to put yours to the test!

Thank you so much for reading! Bis Morgen!

-Robyn

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2013 in Travel and Working Abroad

 

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