Monday 24 September 2012

0049-5: Language is deadly

The first week was quite difficult. Getting to grips with quite a different culture takes time, and I was still yet to come to terms with the heinous fact that Lynx shower gel/ deodorant only seems to be called this in Britain. What is going on there.

What are they playing at

Arranged to meet with another English Language Assistant living in Oldenburg, Rachel. Was happily minding my own business waiting next to the Schloss in the centre of town (I may write a piece on it for you. But probably not. At least not for a while) when a cold wave of fear washed over me. There, nonchalantly swaggering his way past me with his entourage, was the local big-dog, the gangster of Oldenburg, adorned with matching “thug life” sweater and jogging bottoms. He was ten years old, and his entourage were his parents, but I was intimidated nonetheless. Had a lovely time with Rachel; it was nice to hear another English voice, and a northern one at that!

Left Rachel to meet with my mentor Heike, and collect my bike for the year. Oldenburg really is inundated by two-wheeled maniacs, so I was glad to have my life flash before my eyes only once on the ride back home. To be fair, riding a bicycle in Oldenburg is very easy. The other cyclists are friendly, the roads are safe and the motorists are diligent. It is therefore completely my fault every time I almost die.

Oldenburg Hauptstra├če, five minutes after I collected my bike

School started, and I actually enjoy it somewhat! Throughout the past three weeks the kids have been excited to meet a real-life Englishman, and I think I’ve only slightly disappointed them! Result! The time in school I have free is also vital, as I sit in the staffroom talking to other teachers. This is German central, and so most days when I get home I’m knackered. However, the immersion does seem to work, as my understanding has evolved already.

The second week of lessons was where I started actually working in the classes, as the first week I merely ‘hospitiert’ (sat in). This was immediately rewarding: not only because I could see that the children had some incentive to learn, but because of some of the brilliant mistakes that were made. I know full well that my German is atrocious, and some of the things I inadvertently say are probably incredibly insulting, so I am truly on the side of the kids when they make these mistakes. However, one that was made on Monday stuck in my mind for the rest of the week, because of 1) how easy it is to actually make the mistake and 2) how very different it makes the sentence. The original sentence in the textbook was:

“I will call you very soon”

What the boy actually said was:

“I will kill you very soon”

I corrected him and we all had a nice chuckle, but I had my eye on him for the rest of the lesson.

Overall, the start of school has been fun, lively and rewarding. One lesson, where I helped out in 6th Grade PE, was particularly lively, bordering on violent, when a version dodgeball was introduced to the class. It was seen as a success when I only had to fetch one ice pack.

Tall for their age

Oh yes, and half way through a lesson, one boy took his sandwich out, licked it, and placed it back in his lunchbox for safe-keeping. I can only assume he was sensibly marking his belongings.

Next stop, week three/four (I really need to work out which week I’m in)

Bye for now!

Saturday 15 September 2012

0049-4: Cathedrals and Cricket

Before I start, I'd like to apologise for the tardiness of this latest post, and by latest post I mean my second proper post (what a good start). As you can imagine, moving here has been quite stressful, and so I haven't really had time to write. 

I also really haven't had the motivation to. Don't worry, this isn't going to be emotional - I am living in Germany after all. When I say motivation, I mean that I simply haven't been in the mood to write anything that could constitute being humorous or - dare I say it - witty. However, all that is about to change! The best way I can see to pull oneself out of a rut is to write about that very same rut. Catharsis, what a writing style. Anyway, I’m feeling pretty good at the moment, having travelled to visit Rosie (the aforementioned lovely girlfriend) for a couple of days. I’m writing this in the same room as her, and she doesn’t know! Haha! Master of espionage!

Me resting on a glass.

Right. We have a lot to get through. I think I may write this post as a few separate posts, so your eyes and my typing fingers don’t get too tired.

Having travelled on the Eurostar to Brussels, Rosie and I stayed in a self-styled ‘urban chic’ hotel called Pillows. The irony was not lost on me when I found there to be a distinct lack of pillows in the room. However, the hotel as a whole was very classy, and the room was very tastefully furnished with a minimalist eye. Directly in the centre of Brussels, it would be perfectly situated for anyone spending a longer amount of time in the city. Quite pricy normally, but we managed to get it at a hugely knocked-down price thanks to one of those many discount websites. Thank you discount websites.

Admittedly I had a mini panic attack the next morning when I realised that within two hours we would be in the country I would call home for nine months. The panic attack having eventually subsided, we boarded the train for Cologne main train station, from where we would travel with many other excited/terrified English speakers to our teacher-training course.

This course was, of course, held in a monastery. A village monastery attached to a gloriously out of place cathedral. Touted as a three day training session for the budding new teaching assistants, it was really a mixture of long days creating lessons and long nights creating hangovers. Very friendly people in a very welcoming atmosphere…

Look how glorious and out of place it is!

…which didn’t help when we were left once again at Cologne main station with a good luck and bon voyage (not even in German- disappointed). Realisation began to dawn for everyone as our numbers dwindled, and suddenly it was my turn. Had already said bye for now to Rosie, so I was ready to begin my epic journey. Except that the bloody train was delayed. And then the next train was delayed. At least it meant I snuck in some valuable ‘Stick Cricket’ practice on my phone.

I arrived in Oldenburg tired and annoyed, but was greeted by my cheerful and helpful mentor Heike. She gave me a lift to my house, and helped me with my luggage and organisation for the next few days. Met one of my housemates, Carola, who gave me a very warm welcome, but works night-shifts, so had to go to sleep. Was left for the first time on my own in a strange country, so did the best thing I could think of in the situation. Suffice to say, I now have a really good score on Stick Cricket.  

129-0 from 5 overs if anyone actually cares

Wednesday 12 September 2012

0049-3: Here's what's coming up on this week's blog post!

(I'm doing another quickie post so it looks as if I've got my finger out and written something when in fact all I have done is write an advert for my eventual blog post at the weekend I would post one tonight but I'm going to Hannover to visit my lovely girlfriend and there's very little internet ok stop asking me questions no don't really I'm actually quite an open person.)

Journeys are undertaken!

MORE journeys are undertaken!

A monastery is stormed by english speaking people of young age and ill repute!

Games are played on a phone!

Tears are shed!

Laughter is shed!

Sandwiches are licked!

All that and MUCH MORE in the next exciting (mediocre) episode (post) of (from) another englishman in Germany!

(me at the counter in Lidl last night)

Sunday 2 September 2012

0049-2: quick message

Hello again! This is just a quick message to say I'm going to a teacher-training course in Cologne for four days. Yes, that's right, I'm actually off to Germany! Good-bye England, see you next year. Also please rain all year so I feel better about living in another country. That is all.

To make up for the ludicrously short post, here's a picture of a german girl living it up with two goats. I hope there's not too much underage/non-human drinking. Just look at that violin!

Will update you on Thursday. Bye for now!