Friday, May 3, 2013

Good things come to those who wait

We were off to Paris! It was Thursday (April 25th) afternoon and our train left from Werne at 2:05. We rode that train to Dortmund and we only have 15 minutes to switch trains and find the correct platform. We found our train to Mannheim and our seats were awesome! We had a little room all to ourselves; well for the first 2 hours. We rode this train to Mannheim where we were suppose to catch our final train to Paris. We made a couple stops between Dortmund and Mannheim, and thats when we gained two more people in our private room, but they were very nice. We also gained a delay of 25 minutes. This became a problem because we only had 20 minutes to change trains and get on our next train to Paris. The nice people that sat with us helped us talk to the conductor and he assured us that the train would wait.... Never believe a word they say haha. As soon as our train stopped, we ran. We ran through the train station, down the stairs and back up other stairs  to our platform. We could see the train and there was hope we would make it! As soon as we got to the top of the stairs, our train was pulling off into the distance. Emily yelled no and Mary and I just dropped our bags. Some lady behind us was also yelling. It was the worst feeling in the world. We all got sick to our stomachs and felt lost. We were in another country, everyone spoke German and we had know idea how the system worked. We finally  found someone who worked there and she directed us to the main office. 

Once we got to the office, I found a guy who spoke some English and I let him know we were frustrated, upset, and needed help. He got us on a different train that came two hours later. The only bad thing was we didn't have reserved seats. When you buy train tickets, you have the option to reserve seats ahead of time or just hope their are open seats when you get there. The ride to Paris was another 3 hours. I really didn't want to stand the whole time. While we waited, we got Asian food and some pastries from a bakery. We were at our platform 25 minutes early, just in case. This was the last train to Paris..... 

Our train finally came and once we got on the train, I found a conductor who spoke excellent English (I think he was from England haha). I explained to him our situation and since it was a thursday night, the train was only half-way full. He found us seats in the last wagon! The view was beautiful! We were in southern Germany, northern France in the mountains.  There were little villages in the valleys of the mountains. It eventually got dark and I slept the rest of the way. At 11pm we finally made it to Paris. We were the last train to come into the train station in Paris that night.... can you say we were lucky! We met Phillip and Sophie on the platform (this was the mom and dad of the family we stayed with while in Paris. The family is a very close family friend of Emily's family).  They live in Orsay, Paris, a city in the suburbs of Paris. 

That night they were working on the roads and we couldn't go the normal way to their house. Instead we had to drive past the Eiffel Tower.... I know bummer right! haha It was breathtaking. It was so huge but so amazing. We just thought we were going to stop and take a picture of it. But we were so wrong. We walked around and then they asked if we wanted to go up. We obviously said yes! Since it was 11:30pm, there was no line and we got the last elevator to the top. The view was awesome! You could see forever. It felt like  dream. If we wouldn't have missed our train in Mannheim, the roads would be open and we would have never gone to the Eiffel Tower Thursday night. 

Friday Sophie took us around town and we saw the Opera, the art district, the Montmartre and much more. We went inside the Opera and it was gorgeous. We also climb to the top of Montmartre.... there were so many stairs!  There are about 300 to be exact. Sophie and Phillip's family own a restaurant near the Opera. We ate their for lunch. Phillip's family is from Cambodia, so the food was a mix of French and Chinese style. It was delicious.  For dinner, they made hamburgers. 

Sophie, Phillip and there three kids were going on vacation after we left on Sunday. Sophie makes all of the desserts for the restaurant, so on Saturday we helped her make about ten different things, for the restaurant while they were gone. It was a lot of fun. That afternoon we traveled to the Notre Dame but along the way, we stopped at all kinds of shops. Afterwards, we went back to the Eiffel Tower, so we could see it in the day time. For a snack, we ate macaroons, which are a famous cookie by Pierre Herme. For the car ride home, Sophie bought some fresh French bread from the bakery. She just started ripping pieces off and told us it was a common snack to eat in France. It was delicious. That night, Phillip cooked us a traditional French dinner. It was basically the French version of a roast. I'm not a big fan of roast, but it was actually good. After dinner we had cheese and bread, and then some fruit. The cheese smelled awful and didn't taste like cheese haha, but we can say that we at least tried it. 

Sunday morning, we ate all kinds of delicious pastries from the local bakery. We then packed our things up and Philip took us to the train station. Sophie also packed us a lunch and snacks for the train. Our train was scheduled to leave at 1. We found our train and the correct platform and this time were in first class. It didn't look much different but there was more room. We also got a lunch, but I now see why people told us not to buy train was cold and needed to be seasoned. Everything seemed to be going well and then our conductor came over the intercom..... Our train had mechanical problems and couldn't travel as fast. We were going to be 20 minutes late getting into Mannheim. Once again we only had ten minute to change trains.... We were going to be delayed again! Dang public transportation! Our train to Dortmund was suppose to be on platform 3. When we got to Mannheim we went there just in case it was running late too. It was gone.... But right across from platform 3 was platform 2 and it was also going to Dortmund. It was a different type of train and we didn't have reserved seats on this train. The conductor told us we could get on though, so we did. On each side of the train, there were two seats in each row. The seats were turned into each other and there were four seats per "area" with a table. Mary and Emily near each other but I was a ways away from them, but I was still in the same wagon. There was a couple that was in front of Emily that got up and I was going to move in front of her. This lady got in front of me and put her scarf in one seat and sat in the other. I just stood there... This is when I learned how to be a real European. I moved her scarf and sat down in front of Emily. She look at me and started talking German. I told her I just wanted to sit there but she could sit in the other seat. She said something else and then I told her I didn't understand her. She started yelling but then got up and left. I'm not sure what exactly happened but I moved over and Mary sat with me. I wasn't alone on the train anymore. The three of us were sitting together again. That's all that mattered, and the seats weren't reserved. We finally made it to Dortmund around 9pm. It took us almost 6 hours to get there (when the original train was only suppose to take 3 hours). We then waited for almost another hour for our train to Werne. Mary got off in Lunen and Peter picked Emily and I up. I have never been so happy to be back in Germany! 

Needless to say, we had an amazing time in Paris but I miss my car. It was an adventure but I am glad I had the two of them with me. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

The home of the Ampelmann - "The Traffic Light Man"

Hallo from Werne!!

I hope everyone is having a fantastic monday! Im still trying to recover from Berlin haha. 

On Thursday, I only had one class for first and second period. That meant I could leave school at 9:50 :) Mary only had one class as well and then she was going to go to an elementary school in Lünen around 10:30. So I joined her when she went.  We both observe an English teacher, who taught 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade. She use many strategies and methods Mary and I are used too. We felt at home. We then went back to her house and her mom cooked us a delicious  lunch! We then decided since it was so nice, to  lay out in their hammock. Once we got it hooked up, we coulnt get on it. It was way too high. We just slid right off..... Well I just slid off because I was getting on first. Then we moved it down and we both got on. Mary noticed that the rope was a little thin. I reassured her it wasn't going to break but if it did we were only 3 inches from the ground. We had  pillow under our head and it wouldn't hurt too bad. Since it was so nice, we were going to take a nap. We were both almost asleep and about ten minutes later there was this loud noise and we grabbed each other.... The hammock had fallen and the rope broke. We were on the ground and we were laughing so hard we were crying. Her two sisters and her mom came running outside but we couldn't talk because we were laughing so hard. Her sister brought us new rope and we fixed it. I
told Mary they were probably waiting for it to break because they already had new rope cut. 

We went to our morning classes on Friday and then we met with the press around noon. He interviewed us and we took more pictures; I guess we're still famous haha. Then straight from school, all seven of us, Heike and another teacher walked to the train station. Our train left at 2:05 for Munster. Then from there we took about a four hour train ride to Berlin. This was my first time being on a train, and i wasn't impressed haha. I pulled a Rusty and Christine, I wiped down everything near me. The train station in Berlin is bigger than the Nashville Airport. It had four levels, shops everywhere and so many people. Then we got on a bus that took us to our hostel. We dropped our stuff off and got on the subway nearby. We rode two different subway lines to dinner. After dinner we walked around Berlin some. It was very beautiful at night. 

The real journey began on Saturday.... We met our tour guide around 10am at Fernsehturm,  a TV tower that was constructed between 1965-1969 by the German Democratic Republic. We then got on a bus which took us to our first stop, a Jewish market square. We saw what the streets looked like during the war and how they developed after the war. It was very interesting. From there, the rest of the tour was mostly by foot. I think we walked over 7 miles.... We went to the memorial museum for the Berlin Wall. Here we saw many copper poles showing where the wall used to be, parts of the actual wall, a guard tower, a cemetery, and a death camp. After that, we saw the United States Embassy, the Brandenburger Tor, the  Holocaust Memorial, the World Clock, Check Point Charlie and much more! That night we were all exhausted and we went to a restaurant that was close. It was just the seven of us and I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. We had a blast. Something else about Berlin that I found neat were the traffic lights. There were red and green men with top-hats. We left Berlin Sunday morning.  This train was called an ICE train. It was so nice!! I take back everything I said about trains haha. It was like an airplane but bigger, more space and nicer. You didn't even know you were moving. Once home, I took a shower, ate with my family and skyped my mom and bruce. It was nice to talk to them. 

Monday was my last official day at Anne-Frank and being with my 5th graders. I played a vocabulary game with them and then gave them each a penny. I drew the penny on the board and talked about the different parts. On Tuesday, May  7th, I will go back to Anne-Frank to say an official goodbye and I will get to see my 6th and 7th graders one more time. I will also give them pennies. 

Tomorrow is my first day at the elementary school in Stockum. I am very excited but nervous at the same time. Wish me luck!! 

Talk to you soon! 

P.S. I'll post some pictures tomorrow of Berlin! :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


 The Coal Museum 

The mall in Essen

 At the coal museum on the mile long escalator  

The last two pictures are from the museum

"Look out!!" April's riding a bike

My weekend and the beginning of the week (April 13-17)

Saturday I was able to sleep in a little because of jet lag. We left the house around 11:30 for Essen, which was about an hour drive on the autobahn. We drove almost 175 kilometers per hour (that is about 115 miles per hour). We first went to the mall in Essen and there were many stores there that are in American (Polo, H&M, Espirt and many more). The mall had three floors, it was huge! We also ate lunch at the mall and I had my first German hotdog. It was more like a footlong sausage. It was so big! I also got french fries. I wasn't able to eat everything but I didn't realize how big the hotdog would be so Karla helped me finish it. We then left the mall and traveled to Zollverein, a coal mine industrial museum. We took a tour of the coal factory and I learned many new things about coal mining. It was very interesting and my family was able to find a tour that was in English. I was able to compare it to the coal mining that is done in Kentucky and talk to Monika about Josh's family, who also work in the mines. 

That night we ate turkey that had been roasted in sauce and breadcrumbs for dinner. It was my favorite meal so far. After dinner, I went with Karla to Dona's house, her best friend. Her other best friend also came, Manuel. We went to the store, bought some snacks and watched a movie. We also talked a lot about the differences in America and Germany, and different stereotypes people have about Americans and Germans. 

On Sunday I was also able to sleep in again! Around noon my host brother took me to Mary's house; she is another WKU student. We went to a flea market near her house and her oldest sister came with us. She was our translator :) We bought a few presents for our families and a coke slushy. When the venders found out we were Americans, they lowered the prices and haggled with us. After the flea market,  Mary and I took a walk around Lünen, her town. Then we went back to her house and her host dad's parents where there for a visit. They spoke very little English but we managed. We played UNO, but it was in German. Mary and I learned four new words, green, blue, yellow and red: grün, blau, gelb and rot. Later, we all got ice cream which was delicious. Then Mary, her host sister and I walked through  Lünen to the restaurant. We met the rest of her family there. Mary and I both ordered Germany's version of hamburgers. They were also very good! We also got french fries.  

Monday was a long, busy and stressful day. I only had one class that afternoon. I came to school anyways because Peter, my host dad, could only bring me on his way to work. He dropped me off around 7:45. Heike realized I didn't have anything to do, so Emily and I co-taught a lesson to her 6th grade class. We read a short story to them and then broke them up into two groups. The groups had to come up with who, what, where, when, why and how questions to ask each other.  Then they had to write their own short story and share. Afterwards, Andrea, Emilee and I were going to go into town for lunch. We left school around noon. We first went to a pizza place that we heard was good. When we got there it was closed. A friend had told us about a chicken place nearby. So we decided to just go there. It was not nearby and when we got there it was also closed. So we started back tracking. We then knew of a bakery close, so we went there. They were also closed until 3pm. We just decided to  go back to school and talk to Heike. After an hour of walking we finally got back to school at 1:10. Heike didn't get out of class until 1:15. This gave  us five minutes to figure out what we were going to tell her because we didn't want her to be mad. She came into the teacher's lounge, saw us and got worried because we were suppose to be "in town".  We told her what happened and that we didn't have a lunch. She told us that we could go to a different pizza place nearby but she would drive. Thank goodness we drove because my legs and feet hurt! The pizza was amazing! We left and came back to school for our last lesson, but we were late..... 

After school on Monday, I went with Karla to the vet. Their dog has a stomach virus. For dinner we had pancakes with meat. These pancakes aren't normal pancakes you would think of. They were thin, soft taco shells. The meat was cooked with tomato sauce and there was corn, peppers and peas. You also ate it went sour cream. This reminded me of a taco. But none the less, it was very good. After dinner we had a bike lesson. I haven't rode a bike in almost 10 years. In Germany, everyone knows how to ride a bike and it is a normal mod of transportation that is used daily. I first tried riding the bike and I fell off; Karla and Monkia caught me. Once I was able to get on the bike, I rode up and down the street. I couldn't stop though. The bike would stop but I kept moving. I'm sure all the cars driving by we're laughing at me. Once I am on the bike, I am fine but i just have a problem starting and stopping. They were great teachers. Karla said her mom should open a bike school haha. 

Tuesday was much better. I was able to sleep in until 8:45. Karla was able to borrow her grandma's car and take me to school. I did not have a lesson until 3rd period. During the first lesson (class) the students brought in a rough draft of their stories they had been working on. Mrs. Kolberg and I revised them. I really enjoyed this because I was able to work with the students one on one and read their stories. All of their stories were very different and interesting. During the second lesson I observed.  The students reviewed for their test on Wednesday. We then played the game have you....Tuesday afternoon I rode the bus home with Emily. It was my first bus experience in Germany. I thankfully survived with the help of her host sister, who wrote a note to the bus driver. The note of course was in German. Emily and I just hung out at her house and worked on school work. Her mom made a delicious dinner and we had smiley face fries! 

On Wednesday I taught my first full lesson by myself. I review present perfect with the students and the lesson was 90 minutes long. That is so much longer than any lesson I have ever taught in America. We first read a story, the students then made questions that were related to the story, and then they asked their classmates their questions. We then talked about the story and I checked for comprehension. Then after the story, we played a game. We played Have you.... Four students must go outside the room, while their classmates change four things in the room. The students can then come in and they must ask, have you..... and the class must reply with , Yes, we have ..... OR No, we haven't..... They really enjoyed this game. Tonight I am going to attempt to wash clothes and start getting things together for our Berlin trip this weekend. Tomorrow we are all going out to dinner with the English Department in Lunen. 

Hope you all are having a good Wednesday! 


P.S. I wanted to apologize for any typos or spelling because the keyboard and the iPad don't cooperate all the time. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

What's a raccoon?

Today (Friday) I went to two English classes in the morning, one was 5th grade and the other was 6th. In the first class, they are talking about present progressive tenses. They did a few exercises to practice and one of the sentences had raccoon in it. One boy asked what that was and another boy said it was something to mop your kitchen with. The teacher corrected him but he seemed so serious about his answer haha. Next Wednesday, I will be teaching a full lesson to this class. We will review present progressive tenses. This class was 6th grade. 

The second class also talked about tenses but they talked about simple present, simple past, present perfect and going to future. They completed a few exercises and played a vocab game. On monday will play a review game with them because they have a test on Thursday. This class was 5th grade. 

The school system is very different than America's. Everyday I learn something new about the school system and the culture. The students do not have the same class every week, like in America. For example, The 5th grade class I was with today, only has English Monday, Thursday and Friday. They also have art, music and sports (PE), like America. 

Afterwards, all seven of us, along with Heike, went downtown to meet the major. We took pictures with major and the press was there. I felt almost famous haha. Then we went upstairs with the major for a meet and greet. He welcomed us to the city and thanked the Headmaster of Anne-Frank and our host-families. Then we drank coke out of the bottle and took more pictures. 

We went back to school and ate lunch. Lunch is always the same, pasta, pizza and salad. But it is familiar and the sauces change and it is always good. 

I then tutored a different 6th grade english class. It was Mary, JD and me in the same class. The students rotated between us. We had each group for 25 minutes. My group had to write and speak in English. They had to fill in the sentences. For example, On Saturdays I .... I really enjoyed doing this and this whole experience has taught me a lot about myself and how students learn. Also, the students taught me how to say the days of the week. They sound very similar: Montag,  Dienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag, Samstag, Sontag.

After school, I went into town with my host mom and sister. We went to the jewelry shop and then walked around. It is the same place Emily and I went to on Wednesday.  Below you will find a picture of the old town hall. It is also the first brick/stone building built in Werne. 

Tschüss for now! 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My first experiences in Germany

Hallo from Germany!!

I made it safe and sound to Germany with only few scary moments. We left Nashville around 7pm central time and landed in Chicago. As soon as we got there we had to race to our gate. While walking there really fast, the four of us watched the Louisville/Michigan game, as we watched the TVs as we passed by. We then got the plane for London. The flight was 8 hours long. On the chair in front of me, was a small TV. You could watch movies, TV shows, listen to music and play video games. At first my screen didn't work, so Emily was nice enough to share hers. We met Kim, one of the 10 flight attendents, who was originally from Bowling Green, Ky.  Thankfully, she was able to reset my TV. We ate chicken and rice for dinner and had a muffin for breakfast. We then landed in London after circling the airport in the air for 30 minutes. All I wanted to do was get off the plane.

Once we landed in London the madness started. There were people everywhere, so many different languages spoken and so many different hallways, terminals and areas to go to. The airport was HUGE! After looking at the monitor for 5 minutes, we finally figured out we had to go to terminal 5 but we were in terminal 3. We followed the signs for terminals 5 and after weaving through the hallways, we found a line for the bus. We rode the bus to terminal 5. That took about 10 minutes. We got off the bus, there was a lady standing there with a sign that said Dusseldorf,  whic was the airport we flew into in Germany. I never moticed how slow I walked until I got there. She walked super fast through the terminal and then handed us an orange pass. We have to go through sercurity again :/ After going through sercurity, we had to find our gate.... everything was in another languag. All of the employees had purple on. Since our lady wasn't with us anymore, we did not know where to go. A young gentlmen in purple noticed we were lost and he asked to help us. He then showed us which gate we were going to.   We got to the gate but it said Gate Closed. I went up the desk and asked them if we were in the righ place and he informed me we were. The plane was just late.

We got on the plane and I sat all the way in the back. Thankfully the flight was only on hour. I was so ready to get off the plane and the crying toddler behind me did not help. During the whole trip I only slept 2 hours. Once we got to Germany, I found all my lugage a
nd then we found Heike. I have hever been so happy to be off a plane and to see a familiar face. Heike is one of the teacheres here in Germany, and she is incharge of the program and us while we are here.

We had to drive another hour to Werne and Heike drove over 100 mph on the autobon. It was scary! I then met my family and I love them. They are so sweet and always make sure I have everyhing I need. Monika is the mom, Peter is the Dad, Karla is the sister and Henning is the brother. Karla is 18 and Henning is 19. They also have a small dog who is loveable.

Yesterday was my first day at school. We took a tour of the school, Heike showed us how to get lunch and then we talked about a few things. I am with Mrs. Kolberg, who teaches English and Biology. I observed her 6th grade English class. I helped them write their ficitionally stories. It was tricky trying to  figure out what they were talking about but we mangagd. It was actuallt a lot of fun. We then ate lunch as a group (there are seven WKU students). Emily and I then went to the travel agency to book our train to Paris. Heike then left us in downtown Werne while she went to the doctors. We went to a cafe where they had WiFi but we had to order someting. We both odered Coke because we couldn't read the menu haha. We then paid and left. We were not sure if we should leave a tip but we wacthed the people around us. They did not leave one so we did not either. Heike later told us we did not need too. We then walked around and then went to an ice cream shop where she said she would meet us. The ice cream was awesome! We had chocolate and Vanilla. Heike took Emily home and then me. I have a key for the front door but I could not get the door open. Heike had to help me haha. I was turning the key the wrong way and pulling the door instead of pushing. Later on that night Karla gave me lesson on how to open the door. I felt dumb. I also went to the gorcery store yesterday afternoon with Monika and Karla. We got some non sparkling water. Thats all they drink and it taste bad. The sparkling water my family gave me had a lot of bubbles. I made the water "flat" and then it tasted normal. The store was just like Aldi's in America.

Today, Thursday April 11th, I observed Mrs. Kolberg's biology class and then talked about the reproduction system. The pictures were very interesing and the kids couldnot stop laughing. Ind the students were making wooden sculptures.  Then after lunch, Heike took Emily and I back to my house. She is going to eat dinner with us tonight and then Monika is going to take her home. I will write mre to youall later.