Thanks for following me on this journey!
Here's to my final blog post in Germany. This is my last night with my host family before it's time to head back to reality. I didn't think that I would grow to love this place and this family as much as I do. They have blessed me with such a wonderful experience that I will alway cherish. I owe them so much for this! I have officially completed my student teaching and will be flying home early tomorrow morning to receive my degree Saturday morning. I can't express how much of an impact this experience has had on my life and my teaching career. Who can say they did 4 weeks of student teaching in another country? Not many! Tonight, I am going to dinner with my family and enjoying this last night that I have with them. I guess that means I need to except that it's time to go home and start packing my stuff...
Thanks for following me on this journey!
Boy do I have some stories from my trip to Münster today. My mom, sister, brother, and I took a trip to Münster this afternoon as our final trip together. They wanted me to see the city and the Christmas Market there. Based off of the Köln, Dortmund, Werne, Amsterdam, and Münster Christmas Markets, Münster's has to be the best! The city is absolutely gorgeous! The Cathedral there was huge and so breath-taking. Here come all of the weird sories that took place during this trip. While we were waiting to pull into the parking lot, we saw a lady hit a boy that was riding his bike. If you have ever been in Germany, you know that bikes have the right of way against everything else and they most definitely take advantage of that! Most peple on their bikes don't look and just do their own thing. It was definitely a scary situation. Luckily, the boy got up and was perfectly fine, just a little shaken up. Next, we walked through the Christmas Market where we stopped to get Kacko (a.k.a hot chocolate). We were sharing a table with these two ladies from Münster and my host mom began talking with them. Since I know very little German, I did the polite thing and just smiled the whole time they talked. My host mom asked me a question, so of course I answered in English. One of the ladies was very confused because my host mom had introduced me as her daughter about 5 minutes before. These ae the words that came from this woman's mouth: "Oh! You are from the USA. Can I get a picture with you? I've never met an American before!" Not knowing how to respond, I ended up taking a picture with this woman. Not even two minutes later, she began insulting America and talking about how she would love to learn Oxford English but not American English because we speak gibberish. She proceeded to insult me and said I had a weird accient and that I must be apart of the Sotuh. My host mom told her we were leaving and we all began to walk away. Before I left, I turned to the women, smiled, and said "I hope y'all have a great night" in my best southern accient. You better believe I put some emphasis on the "y'all" too! I think the one woman almost died standing there with the look she gave me. (I'm definitely not making this up either! I have 3 other witnesses. Some people are rude!) We walked away and my host brother turned and looked at me. He said "Way to tell her. She needed to learn to shut up. Some people just talk to much." I couldn't help but start laughing at him. As we walked through the downtown area by the Christmas Market, my host mom decided she wanted to walk into a shop. While she was looking, my brother, sister, and I were looking at an American cook book! I never wanted so much unhealthy food from America in my life. My sister ended up taking pictures of some of the recipes to make at home. Tomorrow I'm teaching them how to make grilled cheese! While we were still in the store, we turned around and guess who was there?? The same lady that just insulted me 20 minutes agp. She stuck her nose in the air and walked right past us. If you know me at all, you know that I had to say "howdy y'all" just so she could hear my annoying American accient with awful American English. :) After so more shopping and walking around, we decided to leave to go and get dinner. Once we got to the car, my mom threw her car keys at me and told me I was diving home so thatt I could drive on the Autobahn. I definitely thought she was kidding until everyone got into the car and I was just standing there. This girl right here drove home from Münster and survived driving on the Autobahn. It was the scariest and most amazing thing ever! I didn't want to drive super fast since people in German drive like crazies and I was scared, but my host mom told me I had to pick up the speed to beat people. I felt like I was almost in a racecar. I will always remember this moment! Now on to dinner! This is where I tried the best thing I think I've had the whole time I've been here (and I've had some pretty amazing food). I ate a Döner. Don't ask what it was, because I have no clue. All I know is that it has some type of meat, lettuce, onions, two types of sauces, and some peppers on a roll. It was DELICIOUS!!!! I meant to take a picture before, but I was hungry and didn't want to wait!
This has been a fantastic day that I will always remember. I can't believe that tomorrow is my lasy full day in Germany before I fly home on Thrusday and graduate from college on Saturday. Is this really happening?!?
Pictures of my adventures today will come soon! :)
12/7 - Today I hung out at home most of the day and caught up on some reading. I caught up so much that I started and finish the whole book in 3 1/2 hours....opps. Later that afternoon/evening, Jennifer and I decided to go to the Christmas Market in Werne. Man was it cold!! I almost froze riding my bike 10 minutes away, but that was before I had to ride home. Then I really did freeze! It decided that it wanted to start sleeting right after I started heading home. Not only was I riding my bike in the sleet, but I was also riding against the wind. I have never been more tired or cold in my life! I don't know how people ride their bikes in the weather like this! All I want is my nice heated car with my heated seats!!
12/8 - Today I am back at Anne-Frank Gymnasium with the 5th - 12th grade students. I had the opportunity to work in a small group with some students while they were sharing the characterizations they were asked to make for homework over a book they had read and movie they had watched in class. Some of these students gave such wonderful characterizations of the main character and supporting characters, that I feel like I have already read the book and watched the movie. It is hard to believe that English is their second language. Most of them are better at writing and communicating in English than I am! It never ceases to amaze me how much these students actually know! After school, I came straight home and had something very important to attend to! Depending on the outcome of this, I may be sharing what happened on my next blog! Fingers crossed!
12/5 - Well, today was the day. Today was my last day at the elementary school in Lünen. I am going to miss those kids, and II gguess I'll miss teaching with Morgan every day too.:) These students were some of the cutest kids I've ever seen, and they are so smart. It has been a challenege to teach English as a second language, especially when you only speak English and very little of the students' native language. There was a reporter for the Lünen newspaper that came and interviewed Morgan and I about what we've been doing at the school, what we've done in Germany, and about our next steps when returning to America. This is the second newspaper I've been in since my time here in Germany! It's pretty exciting!
12/6 - Today, some of the WKU student teachers, my host sister, and I took a day trip to Köln. Walking out of the train station and seeing the Dome was by far one of the prettiest things I've seen since I've been here! It was very breath-taking. During our time in Köln, we walked through the Christmas Market, toured thee Dome, walked through the Schokolademuseum (chocolatee museum), and walked through some vendor shops. If any of you ever get the chance to go to Germany, GO! This has been the best experrience of my life! This opportunity has been once in a lifetime.
One a sadder note, I graduate one week from today (Saturday) from WKU. I feel like I just started and it's already coming to an end! Thank you to every single peron I've met during my time at Western and all of the people I am so pleased to call my friends! You really do make some of your best friends in college. See y'all at graduation next week!
I just got back from a very cold, yet interesting trip around downtown Werne with some of the WKU student teachers and their host families. I have been around downtown Werne many times during my time here, but I never knew all of the history behind the buildings. I didn't know that there was a monastery located in teh square either. The tour guide took us inside two of the churches and explained the histry behind the statues, the building, and the practice done there. We learned about a very old house that was once used to take care of very contagious people. This place was where one would stay for around 6 weeks until they were no longer contagious to spread the disease. I actually learned quite a bit about this town and it's buildings. It wasn't so bad that I got to spend some time with my friends as well. After the tour, my host mom and I went to get cappuccinos to warm up. She is beyond wonderful and caring! I have been truly blessed during my time here!
This is my final week at the elementary school in Lünen with Morgan. We have been working hard and trying to be the best English teachers that we can be at this school. It has been nothing short of challenging, but I adore these kids! They try so hard and only aim to please us. I will miss them when I go back to the high school next week and when I leave Germany. I will, however, be excited to see my students back home and to hug them! I miss every single one of those kids!
Pictures will come later! :)
Traveling, traveling, traveling! The last 4 days have been such an adventure! On Thursday, my sister, brother, brother's girlfriend, and I all went to the Dortmund Christmas market. I have never seen something so beautiful! If Kentucky/Indiana had these, I'd be so broke! There are little shops set up all throughout downtown with Christmas things to buy, food, and drinks! You gain 10 pounds just smelling everything. I tried my first Bartwurst from Germany on a German roll and it was delicious! They soak them in beer to bring out the flavors than grill them! I also tried mulled wine......I think I'll pass on that next time. It tasted a little too strange for me. While in Dortmund, I got to see the world's largest Chrismas tree. It is made of over 1700 Christmas trees and has over 48,000 lights on it. This picture does not do it justice. It looks crappy because of the quality of my phone camera, but it was gorgeous!
On Friday, Jordan, Kelsey, and I embarked on our very first unsupervised trip to Amsterdam. Anyone that knows us should know that we should not be allowed to go on trips alone, but WE DID IT! We successfully caught three trains, bought tram passes, rode the right tram, and found our hostel all without anyone's help. I am rather proud of this! We decided that after we got settled in, we wanted to go find somewhere to eat and explore this wonderfully gorgeous city! On our first night, we decided to have dinner at a fabulous Italian resturant. This was the BEST Italian pasta I have ever had. EVER! While at dinner, we met two guys from England that were in Amsterdam for the weekend as well. After a long conversation with them, we decided to catch the tram and head back to the hostel. While waiting for the tram, we ran into a very interesting guy. He used a lot of cuss words and invited us to a party. I think this is the first time since traveling that I was actually scared of the people. He was very interesting, but made for some good laughs on the tram ride to the hostel. We also saw a pink wig laying on the ground across the street while waiting for our tram, but it is Amsterdam....that's common right? Not even two feet away was a man seizing on the ground. Luckily, the ambulance pulled up shortly after we saw him.
Saturday was started by sleeping until 10! I have no shame in saying that it was the best sleep I've had the whole time I've been in Germany. I needed a day to sleep in and take my time in getting ready. This was the day that Kelsey, Jordan, and I would be compete American tourists without any type of guide. We managed to find our way to the Anne Frank House, and after waiting almost 2 hours in line, it was the best decision of my life to go! There were so many emotions while walking through that house and seeing all of the artifacts and pictures from what the business looked like during that time. We were not allowed to take pictures out of respect, but I will forever have mental pictures of that wonderful experience. It was so cold outside that we decided to go back to the hostel, get warmed up and map out the rest of our day. We all decided that we HAD to do some shopping while in Amsterdam. That's what all tourists do anyways....right? I found the cutest decoration for my future classroom and I am so excited to use it (hopefully soon). You know you are officially (or almost officially) a teacher when you start buying things for your classroom! I also got some wonderful gifts for my family back home. I cannot wait to give everyone their gifts!! After shopping, we were so tired from all of the walking and sight seeing that we decided to go back to the hostel and to relax for the rest of the night. That resulted in all of us sitting in the dining area on our phones/Ipad communicating with family back home. I can't complain though, because I got the chance to talk to my Addy bugs back home that I miss more than anyone probably (sorry everyone else), my sister, brother, mom, and some friends back home. It was a great way to unwind and share some of my experiences!
On Sunday, it was time to get our things together, do some last minute sight seeing, and catch our train to return to Werne. We planned to go to the Van Gough Museum, but the line was long and we didn't want to miss our train home. Instead, we walked around many side streets and saw so many pretty buildings, an ice skating rink, and were almost attacked by birds. Jordan and I decided we wanted to feed the ducks crackers in the canel. Bad idea. Seagulls swarmed us and began attacking the ducks for the crackers. This resulted in Jordan and I running for our lives from these awful birds! I didn't like birds before this experience and I really don't like them now!! At least I can look back and laugh about it now. We did some more sight seeing than headed to the train station. This train ride is a reality show gone wrong! We boarded our train that was scheduled to leave around 4:30 and were waiting to take off when someone came on the intercome to tell us that we would be delayed but no information was available. 5:00 rolled around and we were still sitting there. 5:30 - still not moving. Finally, the lady came over the intercome and said something in Dutch than followed it up with soemthing in German. Luckily, there was a very nice Russian man sitting nex to me that informed us that there had been an accident with a man and the train that had just left the station before us. We were delayed because of the police and other issues that had to be taken care of. He informed us that this happens quite often in Europe. I was a nervous wreck after that. Not only were we an hour and a half behind schedule, but we missed our two other connecting trains that would get us to Werne at 8:00. After much waiting and long train rides, we arrived in Dortmund, which is about 30 minutes away from Werne. We couldn't find a train to take us to Werne, but luckily I have absolute God send host parents that came to pick us up and get us home safely. I have never been so happy to see people I know and a car to get my home and to bed! A trip home that should have taken a little bit over 3 hours ended up taking 7 1/2 hours.
This weekend was exhausting, but it was filled with so many amazing memories! Jordan and Kelsey both made this a trip that I will never forget and memories that I will cherish always! Thank you ladies for being such amazing friends! Below are just a few of the pictures from Amsterdam!
XOXO Jessica :)
This week, Morgan and i began one of our two weeks at the elementary school in Lünen. This kids are beyond the sweetest, but I would be lying if I said teaching here was easy. The first and second day I experienced some culture shock. It's difficult to become aware of what wrods you are using and if students can understand you. So far, I've learned to use a lot of picutres, small words, and jestures when speaking. This way the students are getting many different perspectives to reinforce what they are learning. I'm use to teaching third and fourth grade at home and them understanding what I am saying. I have to keep reminding myself that English is a second language for these students. Today I finally received some positive feedback on one of my lessons. It's so hard to get a clear understanding of what the teachers expect of us here and what role they want us to play. I think I am finally starting to get a clear grasp of what I am doing with these students. Here's to more successful days like today with these students. I can't wait to get home and share my experiences with my students! I miss them, but I was able to skype with them. They had so many questions they wanted to ask about what I am dig during my time here. The big question was "Do you like them more than us?". I don't think I could ever like anyone more than that third grade class. I also told the students about how we eat Nutella for breakfast every morning and how I eat a lot of German chocolate. This was followed by the question "Do they hae German cheese?". You just have to laugh and love the things that kids say. I know I do! I even proved to my students that I still remember all of their names perfectly! I look forward to getting to see them again soon!
Ths weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Berlin with all of the WKU student teachers, Heike, Heike's student teacher, and another English teacher from Anne-Frank. We left Friday afternoon and took a 5-hour train ride from Werne to Berlin. Following all of the stories and laughs had on the train, we arrived to Berlin around 7:30 and had a dinner reservation at 8:00. If you want an eventful evening, get 11 adults together and listen to the convesations that surface. I think I laughed more this weekend than I have in a long time!! Saturday we had a busy day planned. Heike booked us a tour guide for a day long tour of Berlin. We had the opportunity to see the Berlin Wall and learn about all of the history behind this tragic event. While visiting the wall and the museum, many tears were shead. I think it's safe to say that it was an emotional experience for everyone. During our adventure of Berlin, we saw the President's house (with one policaeman guarding it), the government building, the Brandenburg Gate, old Jewish homes, morals and tiles decorated by children, mouments, climbed 285+ steps to see over the city of Berlin, and gained a lifetime time of memories! Belwo are some of the pictures from this past weekend. I could go on and on all day, but I'm going to stop here! There are more pictures on my Facebook! :)
These are just a few pictures taken at the Berin Wall Saturday. The first on is me standing on the West side of the Berlin Wall. The second picture is of my friend Jordan and I at the Berlin Wall. The last picture is me with one foot on the East side of the wall (my right foot) and my other foot on the West side of the wall (my left foot).
The Brandenburg Gate!
My friend Morgan and I outside of the President of Germany's house, no big deal!
These pictures are from a memorial Berlin Wall in Berlin. The first picture is a Mosaci Peace Wall. The next picture is one of the tiles painted by a student. This tile automatically caught my eye and touched my heart! How can you read that and not completely agree? The last picture explains what the wall is about and it's history!
Sunday was so much more fun than I could ever imagine, even if all it did all day was rain! My mom took me out yesterday to go site-seeing all over Werne and surrounding cities. This was one of the most fun experiences I've had since being here. Her English isn't very great, as well as my German. It was a struggle to communicate at first, but after about an hour we were able to learn from each other and practice our English and German speaking skills. It was pretty awesome! She took me to Lünen to show me the elementary school I will be at for 2 weeks starting Monday. It was a very pretty school (pictures will come later). She also showed me two different castles that I have not seen yet. She showed me Burg Vischering and another one. Burg Vischering is a very old castle that is only used for tours (you can tell it's so old just by looking at home much it is falling apart). It was still very pretty. While we were out she also walked me around the square of Werne. We stopped at a cute little chocolate shop and cafe, where she bought me a cappuccino. I like my coffe strong but even that had me shaking for the rest of the day! We were both able to share some great conversation and have fun! She is such a wonderful person. After we got back, I got to go with my brother to watch my sister's soccer game with his friends. Morgan (a friend from WKU) was also there to watch her sister play. Johni (another friend from WKU) showed up because we were in the city she lives. We were only 10 minutes from her house. It was fun getting to meet all of the sisters and seeing some familiar faces!
This is a pond in Werne. My host mom told me that when it gets cold and the water freezes, people come out and ice skate on the pond.
This is the inside of one of the churches located in downtown Werne. It was so pretty. This picture does not do it justice at all!
This is another Catholic church located in Werne. Their churches are so small, but very tall. This specific church has a glass cross placed in the front by the alter As the sun shines through the windows, the colors reflect from the windows to the glass cross. It is so gorgeous!
This is one of the castles that my mom and I visited Sunday. I do not remember the name of it or where it was located, but it was huge! (Sorry the picture is sideways. My iPad won't flip it :( ).
This is the castle Burg Vischering! This is the really old castle I mentioned before. While walking across the bridge, you can feel it shaking underneath your feet!
During my time site-seeing, my mom bought me these cookies from the Burg Vischering! She told me that these are some of the best cookies that you will find in this area. They are absolutely delicious!!!! Between all of the chocoloate, Nutella for breakfast, and the cookies, I am going to gain so much weight during my 4 weeks here!
Monday, I was able to teach my first lesson to a class of 9th graders. Remember, I'm an elementary teacher and there is a reason why. Older students can be so cruel, but not these students. These students were so opening and caring during my lesson. Luckily, the materials were planned for me because I found out right before class that I was teaching and it was about Austrailia. I know nothing about Austrailia besides the flag, it being called "Down Under", and that they have a lot of kangaroos and dingos. As the students were learning, I was able to learn with them! I was actually a lot of fun. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trading time with my little ones for this! After class, I came home with my sister for lunch, which my mom prepares for us every day. Unlike in America, lunch is their big, hot meal than they have a smaller meal, like bread and cheese or some type of meat, for dinner. They have some of the best food I've ever tasted! After lunch, my sister went and did her homework while I planned out my week. We decided to take a spontaneous trip to Dortmund to go shopping and site-seeing. Before we left, Morgan (a WKU student) decided she wanted to come along. I took my first train ride ever! It was not as terrifying as I thought it was going to be. I was prepared for the worst! On the way to the train station, Laura and I rode our bikes. Highlight of this trip so far, I ran my bike pedal into a pole. It was not a normal telephone pole, but this type of gate that you must weave through. Obviously I can't weave a bike through them because my pedal hit the pole and I tore up the side of my foot (picture to follow). The first thing Laura did was ask if I was okay, followed by laughing at me for hours and telling everyone about it. She didn't even wait for me to answer before she started laughing. This is why we get along so well!The shopping centers in Dortmund are so gorgeous! Everything is covered in lights and Christmas decorations are starting to be set up for the upcoming Christmas markets that Germany has all over the country. Here are some pictures from the downtown Dortmund shopping areas and inside of the mall.
This picture of my foot was taken Tuesday morning. The picture does not do it justice at all. There is a big bruise right below my big toe, a scrap in the middle of my foot, and a big cut, bruise and bump close to my ankle bone. This was less than 24 hours after I did it. It's much worse now! The score is now bike 1 Jessica -2.
Tuesday, I went to class at the Anne-Frank Gymnasium like I do every day, but then I got to leave after one class and go site-seeing downtown some more with some of the other girls. We spent some time in one of the large markets, as well as visiting the famous chocolate shop, that has the best chocolate that I have ever tasted. We were all in town for one thing.....to meet the major!! All of the students here are so shocked when they learn that most of us have never met the major of our cities. Their major is very social and makes appearances at almost everything. Whille at the StadtHaus, we had our picture taken to be posted in the local newspaper the next morning. (Below is a picture that was in the paper this morning.) He told us about how excited he was for us to be there and how he thinks what a wonderful idea this partnership is between Werne and WKU. He had nothing but positive things to saw about all of our hardwork and all of the things Heike has done, and continues to do, in order for this experience to be possible. After the meeting, I took some pictures outside of the major's conference room that overlook some of downtown Werne. All of the girls and I decided we wanted to go get pizza for lunch somewhere downtown. Most of us live fairly close, if not in, downtown, while the others catch the bus that is located in downtown, so we wanted to eat somewhere in town.
Yesterday, my host brother and sister took me to see Nordkirchen, a caslte in Köhn. It was by far the prettiest thing I've ever seen. We got to walk all through the outside of it and I got to see some up close details. It was pretty breath-taking!
Today was the first Saturday here in Werne. My host sister had a soccer game, so I got the chance to watch her play! It was a lot of fun. One thing that striked me as odd was the fact that after the game, all of the players and coaches were handing out alcohol. These girls are only 16 or 17 years old. This is not something you would see happening back home! I was so shocked!
This is my host sister's soccer team(blue) during their game in overtime.