SEMI-SPARKLING WATER

The title alludes to a comment by Shelby today. Her host family gave her this large water bottle that was eerily similar to the shape and size of a wine bottle but in fact, it was just water. One of the things I quickly became accustomed to was that water is generally not water here-it’s all a version of sparkling water (I think). You CAN get regular water but it’s not as popular. Back to Shelby: I was thirsty so she generously offered me her bottle but when I took a sip, it tasted like flat sprite. It’s okay. We were trying to decide what level of sparkle this water meets so we decided it qualifies as semi-sparkly.

Since my last post, we have met our host families. The family I am staying with is wonderful; Jutta is the grandmother and she is an author; Lily is the fifth-grade granddaughter. They picked me up yesterday from the train station in Werne and we drove to Herbern, which is a small village right outside of the town that has the school we will be teaching in. Their house, from the outside, looks like an apartment, or a duplex, but I’m pretty sure it’s magical because when you step inside, it goes up vertically for three floors! My room is on the first floor. I am sleeping in a tiny loft room with a huge window that lets in all the sun. Below, I can keep all my things. The kitchen is very Hansel and Gretel feeling-or I guess what I imagine that to be like since Hansel and Gretel involves a candy house but I guess I mean very cottage-like. Pieces of wood peek out from the white walls, art is all over the walls, plants cover the surfaces, and every room feels like the coziest thing you’ve ever been in. Both Jutta and Lily have their own bedrooms but then they also have second rooms, where they keep their toys or clothes. The very top floor has those lovely slanted ceilings that form a triangular roof and you kind of feel like you are in a treehouse!

Things to get used to: my bathroom is all one room with no dividers for the toilet or the shower. Everything is smaller and a little bit tighter. Similar to how it was in Scotland, you travel everywhere by foot. Since the village is so small, everything is in walking distance. Many people do not speak English which is really challenging. I can’t read a thing since it’s all in German which forces me to depend on the kindness/patience of the people I am with. Fortunately, no one has thrown up their hands and told me to quit asking questions yet. My host sister, Lily, is in fifth grade, which is where they begin studying English, meaning she can barely speak English. She’s been so accommodating and helpful to me, though, in any way that she can. In the mornings, I ride the bus to school with her but it’s not a normal school bus; it’s similar to a city bus but kids from all around are picked up and dropped off at different schools.

Today was the first day back to school for me and the other student teachers, but also for the students at the Anne Frank Gymnasium (the 5th-12th-grade school we are working in). They have been on Easter break. Today all of the student teachers spent the day with Heike, our group leader/contact/organizer of this trip/head of partnership between WKU and AFG, so that we can get used to the flow of the school before we are assigned our specific classes/rooms. Heike teaches many different subjects to kids in various grades which was so good to observe/be a part of since I’ve spent my whole semester teaching art. The first class was 9th graders who were working on their cover letters and resumes; Heike introduced the lesson, had a great dialogue with the class, and then had each of us take two students and help them begin their cover letters. Her second class was fifth graders who were learning English. They were focusing on directions/how to get places. Before the break, they had created a lovely map on the smartboard of a town they invented called Creative City. The fifth graders had come up with all the buildings they thought were crucial to a town. Today we named the streets and then talked about direction words, such as left, right, turn, and cross. Heike gave us the opportunity to stand at the front of the class, pick a starting point and a destination on the map, and have the students walk us through how one would explain to someone how to get there, using the new vocabulary. Beulah and Zack took turns, and then I volunteered. I began at the car dealership and told the kids I had just bought a new Maserati but then I decided to go shopping (at the mall) because I needed some fresh kicks but THEN I broke my leg from shopping too hard so the ambulance had to take me to the hospital. I got to make all these weird sound effects and the kids were really into it, plus they did a fab job of getting me where I needed to go, using their new direction words. Between each class, we had 25-minute breaks. We participated in 2 other classes, one where 8th graders gave us tours around the school, and another with students who asked us questions about things they were interested in and about those things in America.

I didn’t eat the entire school day because I did not really understand anything and I was confused about everything so I was famished when I got home but Jutta whipped me and Lily up some delicious leftovers and about two hours later, we had dinner which is cheese, meat, and bread which is LITERALLY my favorite food group (aside from potatoes) and it sounds to me like that’s our dinner every night and I’m not mad one bit about that.

Currently writing my blog in the living room with mood lighting, sitting in the comfiest /prettiest recliner (did not know pretty recliners existed). Must take shower and hop in my bed with large window with the sun that might wake me at five AM.

P.S. Pics are lacking because we’re in school now.

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