It’s been a benign three weeks since my last post, and at some point in the last three weeks I realised that I finally felt “settled” in my school as a staff member. The other staff members seem to be “used” to me now, and some have even expressed appreciation for what I do, which means a lot because the culture here is seldom complimentary.
Teaching has been enjoyable and the most I teach the more I realise which classes and year levels are the most agreeable. My favourites are years 7-9; the year 6s are too easily distracted and unpredictable, and the year 10s are too lackadaisical and grumbly. Two of my most successful lessons yet related to punctuation and word order in German and English: two topics that rarely enthuse any student. I definitely feel more at home teaching comparative grammar than giving slapdash presentations on Henry VIII, Nelson Mandela and slavery in the USA or endeavouring to elicit vocabulary related to shopping or school. In one lesson I was asked to discuss Australian schools; naturally, I included a clip from Summer Heights High (if you’re not from Australia or the UK, look it up), and, unfortunately, the students were completely dumbfounded and absolutely did not get the humour.
Last Friday was careers’ day where multiple companies visit the school to promote themselves and the older students have to pretend to be interested. I was invited to join a Year 7 class on an excursion to Nuremberg to visit the Turm der Sinne (“Museum of the Senses”) a museum aimed at schoolkids to educate them on the science of the sensory organs. It was nice to hang out with my favourite class and be questioned by them in their germanised English. One section of the museum dealt with the different tastes and sells; several students reacted quite strong to the samples.
On the same day, David visited from Cham since we were both invited to a flat party in Erlangen. I also invited Jo, and it was easily to most compacted party I’ve ever witnessed. Imagine about 40-50 people cramped in a tiny student flat and factor in Central/Northern European sociability, and you have a gratingly awkward atmosphere indeed. It got so stuffy and sticky in the flat that periodic Durchlüftung (“airing”) became imperatve, and naturally David got shouted at by a German for closing the window too soon; at that point, we gave up and headed to Macca’s.
The next day we headed to Würzburg, the German capital of wine, in Lower Franconia. There we caught up with Carina and her friend, Emily, and were given a tour of this city of prince-bishops. A Fasching’s parade was in session during our visit, dressed-up children were everywhere jumping up and down and German Schlager music was being blasted from the main square. After a drop of wine on the famous Old Main Bridge (I didn’t get any since I think wine is trash), we hiked up to the Marienburg Fortress, which I had previously visited on my first visit to the city some years ago. On that visit, I stayed with Daphna, who I had met in Australia some years prior, and was able to briefly see her again before we departed.
The next day we caught up with Jo in Erlangen for Italian for lunch, and David headed back home for his last week of teaching in Germany. This coming week is the last week before the winter holiday, and it’s definitely time for a break from school; many of the teachers have been complaining that they are due for a holiday. I definitely need a break from the complaining teachers…