Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Observations on Driving on the Right

I originally thought that the most difficult thing about driving in Germany would be driving on the right hand side...I was greatly mistaken!  I know I already mentioned driving and the difficulties when I first got here but lately, after a good three week break from any driving, I have been out and about on the roads again and touch wood, there have been no fatalities!  I still do find it crazy driving on tram lines, I was totally hemmed in by trams in the Viertel today! 

The hardest bit is not driving on the right - you just follow the car in front and even in quiet times there are some handy blue signs keeping you on track.  The cyclists and trams are still out in force and don't even look out for oncoming cars but I've started getting used to looking out for them.

Last night, I made the mistake of driving to school last night for parents evening and realising just how much quicker it is.  Ten minutes by car or an hour by train.  I'm definitely taking the car next week as I want to make the most of the time I have with my visitors and I'm seriously considering keeping it longer than planned, knowing how I feel about commuting in the Winter months.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Another Great Weekend

Now that I am getting into the swing of things at school and didn't need the whole weekend to recover, I managed to fit quite a lot in. 

First of all, Natalie's parents invited me on a tour of the town that they had booked as they had some friends visiting from Munich.  This was really interesting.  I had already read about some things but much of the information was new and I discovered a whole new area of the town - The Schnoor - which I will definitely going back to to investigate further.  I didn't take any pictures as I will be going back next week with my visitors and will get some then.

In the evening I went out for a lovely Greek meal and drinks with a new friend from school and two of her friends.  They were also teachers and it was nice to spend a night speaking and listening to German.  (Admittedly there was far more listening that speaking)  I also discovered some nice new bars to take visitors to. 

On Sunday, it was an early start and the first driving I had done for three weeks to accompany my host family on a steam train journey!  This being the first one I had ever been on, I was very excited although I don't think anyone could have been as excited as little Emil who spent the rest of the day telling everyone about 'his' steam train.  It was a great trip.

Afterwards, we went to a corn maze which a farmer had set up for families to visit.  I didn't actually go in the maze but I did climb the viewing platform and we had a rest and a drink there before coming home for a lovely lunch.

On Sunday afternoon, I ventured into Bremen where it was 'car free Sunday' which meant that all trams were free all day and there was a huge stage set up in front of the station with different performances going on all day, as well as stands of information and transport related offers!

Lessons All Round

I'm entering my third week in school now and have started settling in and getting used to things although I still keep getting told new things in the staffroom (in the blunt German way).  For example, I only just found out that I have to kick all of the kids out of the classrooms every breaktime and at the end of school and lock the room.  This is complicated by the fact that the kids try to convince me that this isn't true and they are actually allowed to be in there.  This usually results in me losing half of my break or missing half of my break duty in arguing with them - though I haven't been in trouble for that...yet.

The situation is helped immensely by the fact that Linda and I regularly meet up and compare notes on how things are going and what we've learnt that week.  It helps me realise that I am not the only one in the boat!  We also met Ed last week who is on the same programme at yet another school and while he doesn't experience the same young, female, blonde teacher prejudice, he has had his share of problems too.  He also informed us that it isn't even just our schools but that actually Bremen is at the bottom of the national league tables and they struggle to get teachers to fill the jobs that are going here.  In some ways this explains a lot but while the first few weeks have been hectic and at times frustrating, I haven't cried...yet, and I cried almost every week in my first school.  The pupils here are just as trying, if not worse but the lifestyle is so much better that it balances out.  The workload is less and the schol days shorter which means I'm not bringing work home with me and have actually developed a life outside of school.

Speaking of which, I should be moving in to my new flat this week and am looking forward to a visit from Mum and Doug on Saturday for a week.  Linda and I have been learning the ins and outs of IKEA German style and have managed to order (some) furniture for our new places.  Keep your fingers crossed for me that all runs smoothly this week - I'm not holding my breath, knowing how my luck goes!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

All systems go!

As you might have noticed, things have been quiet on here lately and this is because I have finally started work!!  I started last Monday and haven't stopped since.  The school has been more hectic than I thought and the younger classes are especially tiring.  It's not that they are naughty as such, (though I have broken up three fights already) but they are very loud. 

My School

I have had some great moments too though - had my first ever light bulb moment with year six learning the present progressive!  The same group also invited me to their music lesson where I watched their performance of Pink Floyd, Brick in the Wall which was brilliant.

The staff are really lovely on the whole and have been so helpful.  It's tough getting used to the differences because half the time, I don't realise there's something I haven't found out yet.  The whole system is different.  Here, the classes stay in the classrooms and the teachers move around.  Each class has a class book that you have to write EVERYTHING in.  A lot of the kids come from difficult backgrounds so we're not supposed to push them to hard but English is pushed as one of the compulsory subjects and the kids are very good at it.  Whether it's a better attitude or the access they have to the language, I don't know.

I'll write again soon but it's getting late and my crazy timetable means I have to get up at six to start at eight Wed - Fri.  Goodnight!