Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Welcome to Werne

It has been an event filled past few days here in Werne. After arriving Sunday, I finally got to meet my host family. We have done a great job of communicating over the past few months, and it was great to finally meet them in person. We had a WONDERFUL traditional German supper of pork, potatoes, and white asparagus. We sat around the table and ate, told stories, and asked each other questions. My nerves completely went away after tonight and I felt very at home with my new family.

Monday morning came very early, and it was time to finally go to Anne Frank Gymnasium for the first time. My family gave me a bike to travel around town, and I used this to travel to school with my host brother David. We arrived at school and I walked into the teacher’s lounge to see all my other student teaching peers gathered around a table. Tensions were high as everyone was nervous to go to their first class. Luckily, this day was very stress free. We had the opportunity to meet some students and teachers and get to know how daily routines and procedures of the schools. All of this while being video taped for a segment on the local news!  After getting acquainted with the school we traveled to the town center to tour the building and areas of interest. I was even interviewed and featured on the segment being asked my favorite foods! My host family and I watched this together the next day and my host mom exclaimed, “I know THAT boy!” when my segment came up. It was really neat to be able to have that opportunity. Afterwards we went back to school and were able to eat lunch and learn how we would be able to order food for each day. After the school day was over, many of the student teachers met in the town center to walk around and look in the shops. Later that evening, my host brothers and I watched “Harry Potter” and spent some time talking about where I’m from and the school I taught at while in Kentucky.

Tuesday was the day of reckoning! We went into our individual classes and met our cooperating teachers (more than just one) for the first time. My first teacher of the day was also my mentor teacher, Wolfram Foelling. I really enjoyed reading some of “Romeo and Juliet” to the students and getting to know Mr. Foelling and his teaching style. It was a very awesome experience to be in a classroom where students were able to speak both English and German with such fluency and ease. Mr. Foelling and I talked about possible lessons I could teach in the future and when our next class would be together. It will be different than what I am used to when I start teaching. Technology will be lacking, so the presentation tools that I am used to using will not be available. I will try to provide some handouts with images for the students so they will be able to see the visualize concepts I am talking about in my lesson. I believe this will be a good experience for me, the students, and even the teachers as we will all be working together to achieve our goal of student learning.

Tomorrow I will be traveling to Bavaria (south Germany) to tour some sites with 4 other student teachers for our long weekend while abroad. Hopefully I will have some great experiences to share when I return!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The End of an Era

I can’t believe it’s already time to leave Berlin. We arrived at 8:00 am (1 am Bowling Green/Owensboro time) on Tuesday morning and have spent the last several days touring the city to see the historical sites, going out to eat at both “sit down” restaurants and fast food, and learning more about living the German lifestyle. One disclaimer I’d like to mention is an apology to readers for a lack of posts over the last week on a consistent basis. This is my first and last blog in Berlin due to the fact that we have had limited internet availability and also very little time to be on computers. Everyday has been an adventure and we as a group have been touring the city from the time we wake up until the time we go to sleep every single day. Very little time has been spent in the hotel. I will hopefully be able to write more once I arrive in Werne and have more time and better access to internet. That being said, let’s talk about the week!

It’s hard to summarize in one blog all the experiences we have had in the last week. Touring the Reichstag building, walking through the Brandenburg Gate, visiting the East Side Gallery, a biking tour of Potsdam and the surrounding area, walking the courtyard of Frederick the Great’s palaces, sitting in the courtyard of the Berliner Dome, walking through the Holocaust Memorial, stopping at Check Point Charlie, and walking through and touring Sachenhausen Concentration Camp. Words and pictures cannot do justice to all the amazing things I’ve been able to see and be a part of in this week in Berlin. A variety of emotions and feelings have been felt; awe and amazement at being at the Reichstag building and Brandenburg Gate as well as sadness and a heavy heart walking through the remains of Sachenhausen. I have experienced things this week that I will talk about for the rest of my life. I have been able to see with my own eyes the places I had only heard about. Having the ability to say that “I was there” is such a great thing to be able to do from a teaching standpoint. I hope that at some point I will be able to incorporate my experiences into my lesson and show the students first hand the buildings and areas that most only get to dream about seeing. 

There have also been some culture differences that have been interesting to see and a big change in my lifestyle for the week. Being a person who loves a tall glass of iced sweet tea, I was out of luck once we got here. No sweet tea obviously, but even more interesting was the fact that drinks rarely had ice (3 pieces maximum was what I saw), were extremely expensive, and no free refills! That did take some getting used to. The food of course has been different. We have eaten in a variety of restaurants both on the street and what I call “sit down” restaurants. I cannot tell you how many new types of foods I have tried, but the highlights include schnitzel, bouletten, currywurst, donor kebab, and many others. Being a picky eater, this has been tough for me not to have Taco Bell ready at any moment with cheap food and free refills!  However, I have really enjoyed being immersed in the culture and experiencing the authentic lifestyle. I think the first thing I want to eat when I get home is a medium rare steak and glass of sweet tea (full of ice)!

I have taken so many pictures over the last week that I cannot wait to share with friends, family, and of course students of both my cooperating school and WKU. These images tell the story of a “once in a lifetime” trip. I will be posting this blog once I arrive in Werne and have internet access, and will begin the second part of my journey. Now Berlin is behind me, a great memory that I was able to share with old and new friends. It’s time to focus on Werne and the time I will be spending there. I can’t wait!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

It’s Saturday night…I’ve got everything, right?

Welcome ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, teachers and students! Over the next few weeks I will be providing a digital diary of what goes on in my life while in Germany as live with my new host family, overcome language barriers, and travel around the country. It will be interesting to say the least! This is my first time blogging, and I believe the purpose is basically to just talk about my thoughts, feelings, and actions from the day: so I’ll do that! Let’s get this party started!

It’s Saturday evening around 5:03 here in Owensboro, Kentucky. Only 39.94 hours (thank you Siri) until my first flight out of Nashville. It’s such a strange thing that the chance of a lifetime is finally here. It was very difficult to walk out of my cooperating school on Friday, and tell my students goodbye, knowing I wouldn’t be playing “Mornin’ Music” for them on Monday as they worked on their Bell Ringers. It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that these last six months have gone by so fast since the first time I found out I would have this opportunity. But I can’t get ahead of myself…I still have to pack! I have a history of tending to wait until the last minute on trips to get everything ready, and then checking and rechecking everything in a panic about 1-2 times per hour.

I still tried to make sure I took some time for myself and spend some time with my family before I go. I went turkey hunting all morning today; my family is going to take me out to Moonlite B-B-Q, my favorite restaurant, tonight to celebrate this occasion; and I’m going to see some friends before I leave. I will definitely miss being in the woods, American BBQ, my family, and all my friends while I’m overseas! After that, I need to go to Wal-Mart to pick up some essentials for the next 4 weeks (I mentioned that I procrastinate, right?). After returning home, I have to decide what I can and cannot live without the next four weeks and find a way to cram it all into a suitcase and bag. I’ve been trying to decide what I’ll take with me, as I’ve been advised not to “look like an American.” But I am...so chances are I will still look that way while I’m over there unless I buy all new clothes! I just need to keep in mind not to overpack, I have been warned by everyone who previous traveled abroad that this is one huge mistake to avoid. I guess we’ll see what happens!

So there it is guys, a hectic night full of scrambling to get things together, great friends, and good food. I don’t think I’d have it any other way! I hope I will have some grand stories and experiences to share with you, the viewers, over the next four weeks. I want to give a special shout out to all those who I know will be reading this: my Owensboro High School classes, my family, university personnel, and any others who decide to virtually take this journey with me. Stay tuned…it’s bound to get interesting!