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!