Guten tag blog readers!
I absolutely love my current reality here in Hamburg, Germany! I walk to school and when I can I take the route through the gardens. People who don’t have gardens can buy a piece of land and do gardening designated areas. It is beautiful and a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the city life. As for school I am placed at an English immersion school for students grades K-6. The school is quite diverse in terms of ethnicity and families from various socioeconomic backgrounds. There are full time teachers however majority of the staff are part time. I was told that a few years ago children only needed to be in school till 1pm everyday. It wasn’t till recently hours have been extended to accommodate working families. Students are usually in school from 8am till 4pm. On certain days parents are allowed to pick up their child early if they disagree with the amount of hours their child spends at school. The other reason for why some students leave early is so that they can attend grammar schools. Unlike elementary schools in Calgary, teachers at this school are assigned to teach more than one grade. Although the schedule can get a bit messy and confusing, I can see how this can be beneficial for the teachers. The opportunity allows teachers from different experiences exchange teaching strategies and classroom management. I like this idea because not only are you no longer alone teaching a class, you also get a different perspective from someone else. This also benefits the students because they get more exposure to different adults and teaching styles. The other thing Jessica and I found interesting is the school has their own sub list. When a sub is needed they will call someone who is already familiar with the students, the staff, and the school culture. Sometimes there could be more than two adults in a classroom, it seems as though there could never be enough help for everyone.
In the last couple of weeks I have been volunteering in classrooms grades 2,4 and tutoring two grade 3 ELL students. The opportunity to work with ELL students individually was an eye opening experience. My grandma use to teach English grammar to me as a child, the experience was textbook based and terribly dry. I don’t remember much content but I do remember waiting for her to doze off. Contrary to my experience I wanted to make sure my time spent with the two ELL students was as engaging as possible. One of the students can’t sit for very long so to accommodate we ended up doing a mix of charades, flash cards, and short stories. I used google translate throughout my time with them but I ran into problems where they couldn’t understand the word even though it was in German. For me this experience reveals how challenging it can be for both ELL students and teachers. Despite how hard acquiring a new language can be, more exposure and practice always helps.
My main partner teacher is inspiring, I’m lucky to be learning from her and since we have common interests that makes the experience even better. I originally wanted to see Kassel Documenta 14, an art exhibition that occurs every 5 years but I was on the fence about it. After hearing more reviews from her, I packed my things and took off for the weekend to check it out myself. The event was larger than expected and the line ups for popular galleries was approximately 1-2 hrs. It wasn’t too bad of a wait mainly because I got to meet new people and artists along the way. I was fortunate enough to be there on the day artist Marta Minujín placed the last book on The Parthenon of Books. The redistribution of banned books began the following day. The Parthenon of Books is a sculpture made up of 100 000 forbidden books which stands on the exact site where the Nazi’s held book burnings in the past. It talks about censorship in literature and freedom of speech in relation to historic events and the present. I was lucky to have been a part of this and glad to have seen the works from artists all over the world.
I have never lived on my own so roommates is a new thing to me and honestly I didn’t know what to expect. I’m living a WG lifestyle and that basically means shared accommodation for students and people who are working. My first roommate was from Pakistan we got to know each other well in two weeks. The roommate who replaced her is Russian but raised in Germany. He had to take off because
he got accepted to a public medical university. I truly miss both of them but I’m glad we met. My current roommates are from Russia and they don’t speak much English or German. It was funny because the two ladies tried to speak very slowly in Russian thinking that I would be able to understand them. It didn’t work haha but it made me realize what I sound like when I speak very slowly to my ELL students. Just because you’re slowing down it doesn’t mean it makes sense to them. My roommates are jolly happy people, I enjoy their company even though I can’t understand a single word. The other roommate that has been here since I got here is from India. He’s quiet and just recently opened up about his life. My personal experience with diverse individuals has so far been positive and eye opening. Oh and the cleaning lady! Alright so we have cleaning ladies that come in every Wednesday to vacuum and tidy up our flat. I'm not a complete slob but I leave things around sometimes. It's just funny because although they're the cleaning ladies I find myself frantically cleaning before they are here haha.
They’re more like inspector ladies to me. As for living conditions, I am currently living without a microwave! It’s not too bad and probably better that way but it is an adjustment. I live in an apartment and use the communal washing machine in the basement. It’s also good to keep in mind laundry doesn’t dry the next day because it is more moist here.
Anyways that’s all for now, thanks for reading!