Monday, January 29, 2007

My First Day as an English Trainer

First, it should be mentioned that my computer had a brief bout with a virus and escaped unharmed, however, all my websites are now defaulting to German. Any suggestions as to how I can convince my computer to default to English again? Anyway, today was my first day of teaching. I tried to prepare ahead of time this weekend and came up with a lot of technical questions related to the pacing of the material and such so I went to the center to finish my prep about an hour early. I got all of my questions cleared up and met some more of my collegues. I never finished my prep work. I drank 2 delicious cups of coffee (1 vanilla and 1 chocolate capucchino). In the end, it helped my confidence that I didn't fully prep and was able to teach straight from the book. Class went well, time flew by. I have 2 students for 5 hours in their office. I learned that their office is in fact much closer to the train station then I was told. Both are middle aged men and both are in charge of their departments. One has a larger grasp of the English language than the other and tends to cheat and use a bit of German but I'm getting on him haha. Clearly, I can lay down the law! I gave them a mega load of homework and will see them again tomorrow. I hope things continue to go well. It was truly, a great first day!!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Amendment to Prior Post

This is the Patrick I found when I came back to Germany (well w/o the sweater as I bought him that for Christmas). Note the shorter side burns and new glasses specificaly. He looks totally German. As such, I felt the need to amend my prior statement that he is the most un-German German. He is even getting more on time. In fact he is planning to hand in his paper 3 whole days before it is due! He even has a cell phone now. I don't know what happened to Patrick over Christmas break but it was for the better. As long as those side burns don't reach mamoth proportions again!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Catch Up

I have not been writing daily these past two weeks becasue I simply have not had the time. Today, I realized so many things that I wanted to write about are still in my head and not in my blog so I'm going for one monster post split into sections. Of course, I am under time pressure so I may have to stop abruptly if I carry on too much but in that case check back tomorrow. The Neighborhood is going to the ... I guess I can't say the neighborhood is going to the dogs as it is just going and taking the dogs with it. A while ago I bloggged a brief run through on all of my neighbors in the building and the pieces of information I knew well since then so much has changed. First Pete (guy upstairs) moved out shortly before Christmas (his wife was going blind and as such had to train for a new trade). In the mean time, the sword incident happened involving the boy directly above me, Stephan, and the family on my floor, Anya, Lars and their twin babies. Anya and Lars felt that their safety was compromised and gave notice that they would move out. Note: In Germany, leases can be canceled at any time by either party with 3 months notice. They found a new apt and aparently moved most of their stuff while I was home for Christmas, today their doormat was gone and I have not heard the babies since I've been back so I think they are already gone. Last week, Stephan (the boy with the swords) moved out with the help of a social worker. As I did not see his girlfriend moving or helping him to move, she may still live here. Of 8 apartments, 2 are now empty and a third is possibly vacant. Two of these people had dogs which are now also gone so we are down to one dog in the building and I'd like to keep it that way. Looks like we will be getti ng new neighbors, I hope they are nice and don't carry large swords! Train Spotting I People watching is one of my favorite things to do and where better to do so but on the commuter train in the morning and evening. As I have been taking the same train at the same time for the past 5 days I have begun to pick out and look for the regular characters. I first noticed guy with the danish. He is about 5'4" tall and 2' wide, his hair is the same color as his skin and he tends to wear light colored kacki pants and a watching colored winter coat. He is very mono tone and to top it all off he likes to eat a large simarly colored danish. Each day I want to point out that he could prob easily lose weight by replacing the morning danish but refrain as it would be WAY to personal for a German and I have no clue how to say that in German. There's also one random army man who rides my train in his full digital (yes Germany has that too) cameo with red barret. I don't have a problem with him, I just question the value of cameo if you issue a red hat as part of the uniform. One of my favorite passengers is a middle aged woman who I dubbed Bridget Jones. She is about 15-20 years older than Bridget but has that small eyed, pouty moth look that Rene Zellwiger does so well and she is always wearing these outfits that you can tell she thinks are trendy but are not quit attractive. In addition, she always looks a bit lonely (I did observe a wedding ring however). I had the pleasure of sitting next to Bridget Jones today and her outfit was impecable. From the platform, I could see that she was wearing blue, suade, round-toe pumps with a kittin-ish heel (trendy, and quite cute) BUT she was wearing them with straight leg capri length jeans AND baby blue tights! It was a total fashion disaster and a guaranteed Glamour NOT. Upon entering the train she removed her coat to reveal an even worse sweater. Said sweater was kind of chunky, involved sequins and 4"x4" squares in alternating shades of light blue and dark blue. Okay so she matched in the sense that she was wearing a blue on blue sweater, blue jeans, blue socks and blue shoes but none of the blues were the same! Safety and Evacuations If one common beliefe is true it is that Germans are prepared. I am not sure I would say Germans are safe in that some common German practices would be considered serious fire hazards in America. However, Germans don't take chances with imminent danger. Example number 1. When the hurrican passed through last week, a national warning was issued to return home and remain their until the next morning. My company subsequently made a nation wide decision to close early. Yesterday, I received an entire 30 minute power point and accompying presentation on safety. Today, there was a fire or a gas leak on the first or second floor (the informatiion came quickly and in German so I am not completely sure) and they told us (on the 4th floor) to stay calm and not do anything. Well the one asshole in my class started freaking out and arguing. Our teacher finished up the assignment he was giving and then went and found out more information. At this time, we were able to see out the window that 3 fire trucks an ambulance and a crowd had accumulated at the entrance to the building. Our trainer came back and dismissed us down the back stairway. We exited the building and had to duck under police line tape as if something tramatic had just happened. The onlookers hapily stood by smoking. One of my collegues pointed out the ammount of people with lit cigarettes standing outside a potential gas leak. haha the entire thing appeared to be much adu about nothing, but I got out of class 30 minutes early so I didn't complain.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Falling into Place

Things are begining to fall into place today. First of all, my "test" was not as I anticipated, in fact, it was much less stressful. I think I did well at centere day. I am clready schuled to teach on Monday the 29th pending my visa. So I sent another email to my internship asking for urgent attention to be paid to my letter. My work-a-holic boss completed it and sent it to me after 10pm tonight for which I am very greatful but I guess I also feel bad for him. I never want to be at work at 10pm. I do realize that it was email and thus he very well could have done it from his home computer but somehow, the idea of thinking about work at 10pm after working all day is disheartening to me. Anyway, pending my visa being granted, I'm ready to start teaching on Monday and I will settle a schdule with my internship soon thereafter. I only have a possibility to work 50 hours there total it seems which is a bit discouraging but still better than nothing. To top off my day of progress, Patrick and his friend/our neighbor Thommy installed our washing machine today which should be nice. An added bonus to my day is learning that the language school has the most amazing coffee machine ever, it's digital and includes so many choices. I discovered the cappuchino special plus vanilla. Pretty much it is cappuchino meets hot chocolate and if that couldn't get any better they add a shot of vanilla syrup aannd teachers get the key to the coffee machine so I can have as many coffees as I want for free. Which sounds impressive but they really only charge 25 cents anyway which is pretty much free for students and such. I see a lot of caffiene and sugar in my future ;) On a serious note, I met a lot of the other teachers and got to know my boss much better and am really looking foward to begining my new job. Now I only need to get throuogh 4 more days of training in Hannover and I'll be set!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Training in Hanover

I'm training to be an English teacher and I'm just about half way through my training. English teacher may be a bit fesious, technicaly it's an English trainer position. Training has been good thus far. At first I was a bit overwhelmed but each day, it becomes more familiar. Four days down, five more to go. I guess I am most worried about Monday. On Monday we have Center orientation. From the title, I expected it to be a relaxing day spent meeting people and learning the ins and outs of our local branches. -I am part of a regional training which takes place just under an hour from where I will be working.- On Friday, I learned that it is more of a test as we must each prepare a 20 minute lesson to present to our boss. Basicaly pretend to teach a class and be judged. The reason this makes me nervous is that the training process is like one long interview so I am not yet guaranteed a position and thus need to impress. Tonight I am babysitting with Patrick for a friend of his so I plan to write out my lesson plan and practice on him. :)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

It's Not Hurrican Season and I Live You Lost?

Hurricane sweeps across Europe POSTED: 8:02 a.m. EST, January 18, 2007 var clickExpire = "02/1/2007"; Adjust font size: BERLIN, Germany (Reuters) -- Germans were told to stay indoors and many schools across the country closed early on Thursday as a rare hurricane bore down on the country, cutting air traffic at its biggest airport by half. Germany's DWD meteorogical service said the storm "Kyrill" could generate winds of up to 180 km/h (112 mph) in high and exposed areas and as much as 130 km/h in lower-lying regions. "What's unusual about this storm is that it will affect the whole country and not just certain zones," said Christoph Hartmann, a spokesman for the DWD in Offenbach. The northwest of Germany would be the first to feel the full impact of Kyrill from early afternoon, before the storm swept across the rest of the country and moved eastwards into Poland, the Czech Republic and northern Austria, the DWD said. Rain would likely continue into the weekend in affected areas, as the storm's force gradually dissipated, it added. As Germans were warned on the radio and television to keep their cars away from trees and to stay indoors, authorities in states stretching across the length and breadth of the country said many schools were closing early due to Kyrill's arrival. Rescue services around Germany said they had mobilized extra staff to prepare for potential flooding and destructive winds. German airline Deutsche Lufthansa said it expected numerous flight cancellations and delays on Thursday, while Frankfurt airport said takeoffs and landings were cut by half. Germany was not the only country hit. British and French rescue services rushed to pick up sailors forced to abandon a container ship after it began sinking in stormy waters in the Channel.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Germany Take 2

Blogger is aparently connected to google now so you can use your gmail sign in stuff. Anyway, I figured it was time for a makeover so I let them transfer my blog to the google side and I added some snazzy colors. Hope the new look is easy on the eyes. Next time I will put my links back in. I've been back for just about four days now. Up to this point, all have been unproductive. I have yet to put any of my clothes away and I'm only half unpacked. My biggest problem is a phenomena known as jet lag. I can not sleep at the right times. I have been waking up in the middle of the day and going to bed well into the next morning. Last night I tried to make myself sleep on a regular schedule. Patrick and I went out to dinner and I went to bed around 10pm. I was awake by 12:30 and never really fell back to sleep, excepting the 30 minutes before I needed to wake up. Tomorrow I need to catch a train at 7:40am. Tomorrow is the first day of my training and if I miss this train, it is grounds for dismissal. Well lateness can get you kicked out so I am assuming not showing up comes with punishment just as severe. My plan is to keep myself awake for the rest of today and thus be tired enough to sleep around 10. Wish me luck...