I’m not sure if anyone actually regularly checks/reads/follows my blog other than my grandparents, but if you have been, you might be wondering: “What happened to misspraxic? Where did she go!? We haven’t heard anything from her for nearly three weeks! Did she get lost wandering around in another German forest?“
The answer is not quite! Though just about everything else has happened.
My last day at Heidelberg was a special one. We all met (my classmates and teachers) in the morning for breakfast at a café together. The breakfast buffet was delicious and lasted two hours – I don’t think anyone really wanted to leave the experience behind! Certificates were handed out. I passed my course test with a good mark, too, which raised my spirits further.
Afterwards, to mark the end of four valuable weeks spent at Heidelberg University Summer School, I met my parents in the middle of the Old Bridge. As in a film it was a dramatic meeting – I longed for some familiarity, so it was wonderful to be able to catch up with them again.
We spent two more nights in Heidelberg which helped me to relax and enjoy time with my parents before setting off again in the direction of the Bundesland (federal state) Nordrhein-Westfalen. We drove through Rheinland-Pfalz and stopped just outside of Koblenz – an ancient city where the rivers Rhine and Moselle come together. Impressive vineyards stretched for miles, and though we didn’t break the journey for long, we were lucky for the weather!
The following day we arrived in the middle of nowhere, at a conference hotel east of Cologne. I would spend the three/four days before the start of my placement here, in order to take part in a compulsory training course on how to teach English in Germany. I felt a mix of melancholy and nostalgia: No two experiences are ever going to be the same. That’s hard to accept after an amazing experience in one place: you inevitably set expectations and hopes for the next adventure.
The training days were sadly entirely directed in English. It might sound odd, but I honestly longed to hear some German after speaking little but German on my summer course. The conference was set in a rural location, which really appealed to me – tall trees, fields, streams and ponies surrounding us. It could have been my English home. I appreciated the change in the countryside from south to north – like in England, this is significantly different in each region.
Following this training course, I travelled directly to my town west of Düsseldorf, where I am starting work as a Language Assistant. That means teaching English to children/young people aged 9-19 at an inclusive comprehensive school (a Gesamtschule). I want to talk more about this specific kind of German school in a future post.
I now feel settled into the school thanks to my mentor, teaching staff, and chatty landlady who have all made me feel so welcome, though it hasn’t been easy… I’m aware I keep my blog posts largely very positive, but here are some of the very realistic challenges from the last two weeks: Having to sign and scan hundreds of superfluous forms that really state the same things, setting up a bank account, registering as a
citizen British expat and getting grilled by the Passport Office manager on the consequences of Brexit, not having WiFI in my accommodation, having to set up my own mobile data, registering a German SIM card for a phone without WiFi (Teufelskreis=vicious circle), being shouted at by impatient bus drivers for not validating travel tickets properly, travelling in the wrong direction on buses, getting lost in a small school building, panicking in supermarkets because the cashier moves to fast to keep up with…
As always, I can’t help rambling! But I’ll write more soon. The good news is that all of the above has been fixed… let the next challenges hit me.