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.
Yesterday I finally got to meet my amazing host family! I also got a tour of the high school I will be at for two weeks, as well some shopping and site-seeing. I tried my first piece of German chocolate, and it was most definitely the best thing I've ever tasted! I was also invited to go to "The Club" with my host sister. This is not the kind of club most Americans know. It is a type of shack that her brother and friend built. There is a stereo and tv set up for anyone and everyone to use. It is actially pretty neat. People just show up. If no one is there, they call people and they start showing up. It's a really nice place where everyone hangs out and gets to talk. I got to meet a lot of Laura's friends and learned a little bit of German that I had forgotten over the years.
This is my room where I will be living for the next 4 weeks! There are paints hung all over the walls that my host mom painted and they look wonderful! She is going to teach me how to paint one sometime soon. :)
Today was my first day at the Anne-Frank Gymnasium. To get to school, I had to ride a bike. Yes, me, on a bike, wearing boots, and riding a bike where the seat comes up to my waist when standing. I most definitely jumped to get on the bike and almost fell off of the other side. Every day I get to ride a bike 7 miles to and from school. This is going to be interesting. I'm sure something will end up broken or cut. I also had my first experience in a German high school classroom. I was placed in a 6th grade (they start high school at 5th grade to 12th grade) English class. The students were learning about verbs, which I just finished with my third and fourth grade classes. It was interesting to watch how hard it was for some of them. You don't realize how much detail goes into the sentences that you create when communicating until you are watching someone struggle with something that just comes naturally to others. It was definitiely an experience. After class, I had a training on how to deal with situations when teaching young elementary school students English. We learned a lot of really fun games that I would love to use in other content areas when I return and get a teaching job! I now know why I want to be an elementary teacher, I get so excited about all of the fun activities that can be done with this age group of students. Now that it is officially the weekend, my host brother and sister are going to take me to Köhn, Germany to see the caslte there1 You have no idea how excited I am!!
Off to Köhn! Tschüss! (bye)
After being up for almost 48 hours straight, we finally made it to Germany! Leaving at 10:35 Wednesday morning and flew from Nashville, TN to Toronto, Canada. From there we had a four hour layover followed by a 7 1/2 hour flight to Frankfuert, Germany. After another 2 hour layover, we flew into Muenster and drove from there to Werne. In just this short amount of time, I have already experienced so much. From thinking I lost my phone and crying in the middle of the airport in Canada (it was in my boot and I was running on zero sleep) to running down walking sidewalks in the airport, going down the Autobahn and meeting my host family! This trip is already nothing short of amazing! 🇩🇪
Today is the day that I embark on an amazing journey with some amazing girls by my side. At 10:30, I will be boarding my plane to Nashville where we will fly from Nashville to Toronto, Toronto to Frankfurt, and Frankfurt to Munster. It is going to be a long day, but I am beyond excited to take flight into this next step of my life. See ya in 4 weeks Kentucky/Indiana!