Welcome to Werne

On Sunday we made the trip from Berlin to Werne. We traveled on several trains, and getting all 10 students and their luggage was a little tricky. We were greeted by our host families right at the train station! Ashley Hutsell and I live with the Leutloff family: Stefan (dad), Gudrun (mom), Antonia, (13 year old sister), and Emilia (11 year old sister). We came home and received a tour of their gorgeous home, took a walk around the area, met some neighbors, and met their dog Nero! We live in the nearby town of Lunen, and it is absolutely gorgeous here! Our family is a perfect match for us! They are so kind and outgoing. We both feel completely at home here!

Today was a interesting first day at school. We received a tour of Anne Frank Gymnasium and learned how to use their mensa (dining hall). We then took a tour of Werne for a television crew. They filmed me “shopping.” We had to order ice cream…in German, and they also filmed us doing this. It was a little unnatural, but a lot of fun. They filmed another student teacher teaching a lesson in German abut small town life. They then followed us to the mensa and filmed us eating lunch!

I’ve already noticed some differences in our school systems. One is that the students here are very self reliant. They are so proactive and help clean and do many classroom jobs for the teachers. They are kind and polite! The teachers also don’t have their own classrooms. They leave their things and teaching materials in the teachers lounge on huge tables. They don’t have a classroom to themselves, or any consistent one. The teachers lounge is a very happy and cooperative place. The schedules during the day are also very different. They can change from day to day and week to week. They have long breaks during the day and hour long lunches. Many days we might be finished with regular classes before 1 PM. Lunch time is also at least an hour long. I can’t wait to start with a teacher tomorrow and start teaching and interacting with the German curriculum!

After school today we went on and adventure! Our dad Stefan and Emilia took me, Ashley, and also Jennay to several places in the area! First we went to Schloss Nordkirchen. This was a beautiful palace very close to our home! We actually interrupted a German movie set too! We then traveled to Munster for the rest of the afternoon. Emilia downloaded an interactive guide to the city on her phone. We then plugged this into a speaker that sits on top of a Pringles can! The looks we got were priceless! We saw some amazing things! Munster is a larger town in Germany, but it has such a sweet and cozy feeling to it. I am in love with European cobblestone streets and the unique architecture in the towns. My favorite things we viewed were the churches. We started out at the University of Munster and St. Peter’s church! It was so beautiful. We saw a few more landmarks and then saw St. Lambert’s. This church is very old and has huge historical significance (as does everything here). Something unique about this church is that is has cages near the top of the tower. These were used to hold tortured prisoners during the 1500s. We got to go inside and it was stunning. The ceilings were so high and there were beautiful stain glass windows and intricate sculptures! We visited the town hall and then to St. Paul’s cathedral. This one was even more massive than St. Lambert’s and equally gorgeous! It was such a great day getting acquainted at school and taking a little trip.

On a side note I haven’t talked about the food that much! The food in Berlin was good, but what our host mom has made us the past two days has been excellent! On our first night we had white asparagus with hollandaise sauce, boiled potatoes, eggs with tomatoes and spices, salad, and ham. Then strawberries for desert! Tonight we had dates with cheese, smoked ham rollups, and some outstanding pasta. It had flat long noodles coked in oil, butter, and spices. It also had some white asparagus in it. I couldn’t get enough! Also during school everyone gets a snack break. Today the Leutloffs gave us a sandwich on freshly made bread with ham, sauce, lettuce, and cheese! It’s a good thing we walk and bike so much here so I can continue to eat this delicious food!

Above all I am just so thankful to be here. It’s an odd experience being the “foreigner” but it helps me understand my students so much more. These are priceless days and I’m trying to take advantage of each of them! Thanks for following my journey! I hope so be able to post pictures soon! Auf Wiedersehen!

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First Week in Germany

This week has been an absoulte whilrwind! We have been in Berlin all week! Here is what I have been up to!

Day 1

Today we arrived in Berlin. The plane trip over went smooth and great! We were greeted by Heike and she had a van take us to get checked into our hotel. We then toured the area around our hotel to become better aquainted with the area. We ate lunch at a little deli, then it was finally time to take a nap. Jetlagged was an understatement. After our nap we went to dinner and experienced our first German meal! My meal was a schnitzel with french fries. It was very delcious! After that the group of student teachers walked around Berlin and toured different parts of the city! We did not end up having wifi at the hotel, and I was a little homesick not telling my family we made it there safely! That soon ended!

Day 2

The day started with a delicious breakfast at the hotel! We quickly got acquainted with the city transportation system and rode a train to the Reichstag. This building is home to Germany’s government. We toured the area and took pictures! We then got to go up in the Bundestag. This is the top of the Reichstag and is a huge transparent glass dome that overlooks the city! We then shortly viewed the Brandenburg gate and took a few photos. It rained on this day, but luckily we missed it!

Day 3

Every day in Berlin is an adventure and I love it. However, I was very anxious about day 3. We were told we would be completing a 5 hour bike tour around 12 km long. I’m not the most skilled biker and was very nervous. We rode a couple of trains to the Potsdam area. This area is rich in beauty and history and has beautiful buildings! We got our bikes and I started out wobbly but soon got the hang of it. I was so proud of myself until…I wrecked. Jennay and I were riding side by side. the path all of a sudden narrowed and it was either ride into Jennay, or hit a pole. I hit the pole. And the bike and myself launched over it into some grass. I was very lucky and escaped with only some bruises. They are pretty intense bruises and I’m stillĀ  alittle sore, but at least nothing was broken. I got back on and finished the day! My favorite thing we saw this day was the Sans Soucci palace. It was magnificent to say the least. In the afternoon a few of us in the group tried out the transportaion system and viewed some historic landmarks around the city.

Day 4

Day 4 was full of activity! We first started in front of Brandenburg gate, and completed a historic walking tour around the city given by a native German Dr. McGee knows. It was beautiful! We saw the memorial for the Mudered Jews of Europe, Checkpoint Charlie, and more. We ate lunch in a shopping mall cafeteria and then the group accidently got split up. Jennay and I then had the unique opportunity to spend the afternoon with our contact person, Heike. She took us to the Berlin Walll memorial where we saw the last parts of the wall still standing. We climbed a huge watch tower and got the see the “death strip” people had to cross in order to get away. We talked with her about history and social issues for a few hours. She then took us to Tiergarten which is the largest public park in Europe. We found some row boats to rent and Jennay and I attempted the row Heike around. It was hilarious and so much fun!

Day 5

Today was our last day in Berlin. A few of us in the group had the opportunity to visit Sachsenhausen Concentraion Camp near Berlin. I knew I would leave feeling sad, but the emotion was more than I expected. Walking where such horrible things happened was emotional, heavy, and haunting. It’s almost unbelivable that humans would treat each other in that way. The experience is one I will never forget. We then ate lunch with the rest of the group and visited a flea market.

 

I am so sad to leave Berlin tomorrow bt I can’t wait to meet my host family in Werne and start school! I have wanted to post pictures, but my camera isn’t recognized on the hotel computer. On a side note, my mom got to come home yesterday! I am overjoyed!