Ms. Gahafer

This past week has been an absolute blast teaching 1st-4th graders at Uhland Schule in Werne, Germany. The students knew very basic English; “My name is…” “I am fine” “I am…years old.” The most challenging lessons were with the 1st graders. Even giving simple instructions was a huge task. This week Amber, Ashley, and I shared a classroom together and teachers brought their classes to us. We introduced them to us and even had them say hello to our Big Red doll. They were all extremely eager and wanted to learn from us. The school day in the primary schools here is 8-1:35 and they are in blocks of time. This is very different than in America where teachers schedule their own days and times. The teachers also don’t have their own classroom and rotate throughout the building. The atmosphere is so different in these schools. We taught about colors, numbers, weather, and more about life in America.

This week I also led an after school “English is Fun” session all by myself. I was put in a room with 20 3rd and 4th graders and led them in songs and activities to practice their English. These students were a little easier to communicate with, but again even simple game instructions was a struggle. It was an extremely difficult afternoon, but extremely rewarding. It’s a huge confidence booster facing an unknown and difficult situation and walking away successful. Throughout this entire experience I have learned so much about myself; how I communicate, how I respond to facing difficult problems, and that I can face the world with courage and navigate myself through life. It has been so enlightening and encouraging.

We have also traveled to Oberhausen where we viewed two castles and also the Gasometer. The Gasometer was an art gallery in an old oil storage facility. We rode an elevator to the top and viewed the beautiful city. Then we watched a light show that took up floors 3-10 of the building. It’s hard to describe but was incredible and mesmerizing. The bottom two floors consisted of copies of famous art works. My favorite was Starry Night.

It’s been a great week here in Germany. I’ve felt a little homesick for my friends and family, but I know I will be home very soon. It will be a bittersweet feeling leaving this beautiful country.

The Best of Both Worlds

The past few days I have been in what felt like Heaven. I experienced my first few days as a “German school teacher” and I also got to travel to two amazing cities!

Wednesday after school Jennay and I hopped on a train to Amsterdam! We were so eager and anxious, but managed to take a quick snooze on the many trains. Once we arrived we took a few pictures at the Amsterdam train station. Then we made our way into the beautiful city! It didn’t take long to find our hotel, where we checked in to our upgraded room, The Sailor’s Cabin. It was decorated so cute! We ventured around the city and decided on pasta for dinner at Pasta Plaza. On Thursday morning we ate our breakfast croissants then made our way to The Anne Frank House. We waited in line about an hour and a half, but it was completely worth it! Seeing the Secret Annex, and being where she was, was emotional, yet inspirational. Experiencing these types of moments is once in a lifetime! In the afternoon we ate Vlamese Frites and discovered a tulip garden, street dancers, museums, a magnificent park, and the beautiful canals. It was an amazing day. Friday morning we packed up and did one last loop around the city, then headed to Paris!

Arriving in Paris was a bit overwhelming at first. The train station was huge, and there wasn’t as much English as there was in Amsterdam. Jennay and I bought metro tickets and navigated our way to our hotel. Our original hotel was electrical issues, so they paid for an upgraded room at a hotel several block down. We met Amber and Ashley at The Louvre Museum, and even got in for free. My favorite pieces were The Mona Lisa (obviously), The Grand Sphinx, and The Law Code of Hammurabi. After posing for a few photos, we headed to the Eiffel Tower! We didn’t think we were in time to take the tour to the top, but we were. It was absolutely freezing, but incredibly stunning to view Paris at night, at the top of the Eiffel Tower, drinking a glass of champagne. It has honestly been one of the greatest moments of my life!

The next morning Jennay and I headed to The Palace and Gardens of Versailles. This is the most lavish place I have ever visited. The palace was incredibly beautiful and full of history. Everything is perfect in there. We then headed to the gardens. Jennay and I were almost in a trance. We stayed for hours just wandering around and discovering the hidden treasures. The only reason we left was because it was getting dark and it was closing. Versailles was a little expensive but it was worth every penny! That night we also visited Notre Dame. Sadly, Sunday was our last day in Paris. We did a little souvenir shopping, and visited the Sacre Coeur! It was also magnificent! We ate crepes and had coffee, and finished the day at the Arc De Triomphe!

Visiting Europe has been so wonderful. Actually seeing and touching things that you learned about in school is priceless!

My first days in the German schools have also been excellent. Last week we mainly observed and assisted teachers at Anne Frank Gymnasium. This week Amber, Ashley, and I share a classroom at the Uhland Schue primary school. Today was very interesting. Throughout my block experiences and student teaching I have never felt out of my element. Today was a little different. We knew no prior knowledge, had no technology to use, or any other resources other than materials we had brought with us. It was a little scary trying to teach children who had no idea what the words you were saying meant. The teachers at the school were excellent though and helped translate instructions. I was honestly concerned our whole day would be a flop, but it went really well. I don’t prefer it, but being stripped of everything you are completely used to, and then succeeding is an amazing feeling. These experiences have also helped me realize more what an ESL student goes through. Not understanding what is going on around you is extremely frustrating and discouraging. Using these emotions though will hopefully help me be a better teacher.

I could not be more blessed here. My host family is so loving and funny, and I’m learning so much everyday! I can’t wait to come home and share my experiences with everyone!