Ada Abroad: Living and Working in Germany

An online journal recording two years spent as a Fulbright/Pedagogical Exchange Service Teaching Assistant at secondary schools in Germany. (2003-2004 I was in a village near Bautzen; 2004-2005 I will be in Nordrhein-Westfalen.)

Location: Münster, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

I'm an American living in Germany, working as a foreign language assistant at a secondary school. Future plans: getting my Ph.D. (probably in Germanic Linguistics), becoming a professor, living an ethical and meaningful life.

Monday, September 13, 2004

First Day of School

Today was my first day at the Mittelschule. It actually went quite well, although I had to get up at about six o´clock this morning (also known as `the crack of dawn´) and then they scared me by starting me off with a class consisting solely of kids with learning or behavioral problems. Thankfully I was there as an observer more than as an assistant.

I will be assisting with the eighth- and tenth-graders on a regular basis. The 10th-graders are already pubescent and jaded and kind of sullen, but the 8th-graders are still surprisingly little and cute and very excited about learning English from a Real Live American.

Stuff that happened at school today:

-They gave me a Schultüte (paper cone filled with candy and teacher supplies). This is a German custom that normally involves kids beginning the first grade-- their very first day of school.

-My boss (Mrs. M) introduced me to two Sorbian-speaking 8th graders, AND arranged for the Sorbian teacher to give me private lessons twice a week! Fantastic!

-The tenth graders had to give little reports about pop stars in class. One kid chose a German folk music band called Die Randfichten who use accordions and sing traditional songs. He was really into it, too. The poster for the band looked like the one hanging behind the son´s bed in Fargo.

-The 8th graders made a special presentation for me.

Tomorrow I´m going hiking with the students (the whole school is going on an excursion) and then the English teacher is taking me to Bautzen to try and figure out my Aufenthaltserlaubnis (residence permit). I don´t know whether that will work out, though, since the principal doesn´t know anything about my insurance card (which she theoretically should have) and I don´t have a permanent address yet, either. I anticipate that the whole bureaucratic nonsense will be a major pain in an unpleasant place. Alas...

In other news, I´ve been speaking so much German that it is actually kind of difficult to write this in English. However, my German is terrible! I find myself making all kinds of errors, which I then notice immediately after they leave my mouth, and I can never remember what gender anything is. Ugh. Oh well. People compliment on my German anyway. But maybe they´re just being nice.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay! So glad you weren't killed and eaten on your first day. I, on the other hand, wish to kill and eat the following: kids in my German class (343 with Z) who can't conjugate to save their lives, my econ professor, and anyone who decided to make PEGN 210 a required class. Anyhoo, glad you're doing well! Kim

10:38 PM  
Blogger christina said...

anybody who can make a living working with kids is

2:10 AM  
Blogger Ada said...

No, I don´t feel like cannibalizing my students. But Kim, if you decided to proceed with your 343 classmates, I suggest you use a pork recipe-- South Sea Islanders claim that people taste like pork.

Actually I´m really glad that I´m not a real teacher. I only have to work 12 hours a week and other people deal with any discipline problems. Hats off to people like IA who do this for real!

9:55 AM  
Blogger christina said...

i will never eat pork the same way again...

1:04 AM  

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