Sunday, November 19, 2006

Abenteuerlich Reise Teil 1: The Rain in Spain

Today I decided to go for a walk, but halfway through it started to rain. I elected to head back, thinking: ‚Gee, I wish I had my raincoat...oh yeah that Irish girl lost it.’ Now, in case you’re scratching your head wondering: ‚Which Irish girl is he refering to?’ Don’t worry, you’re intitled. The story begins, as you might have guessed, with rain.
I remember some sort of rhyme involving the rain in Spain, and I can vouch for it, they aren’t kidding. Despitie our travel guide’s assurances that it doesn’t rain that often in Madrid, it was raining when we got there. (Though in the guide’s defense, it did say that if it did rain, it would be in November.) I remember at first we were mocking the whole ordeal: ‚You call this rain, Madrid?’ we said, or, ‚Look at all these people with their big raincoats, it’s hardly even sprinkling.’ We said these things, and we meant them, it was hardly sprinkling after all. By the second day my shoes were two shades darker and water logged, ever step bringing a small fountain of water to my dampened feet. We spent the day in a museum, trying to figure out other people’s art. That night we had decided to hit the club scene, which I am not big on, but was told by pretty much every source (guide book and all) that Madrid was most famous, world famous in fact, for its’ night life. And, honestly, who could pass that up?
Our method for finding the best club was asking the people staying in our hostel, which is how we met them. We found three Irish girls and one Argentenian to accompany us to some of the world’s greatest clubs. We hit the rain soaked streets, but it didn’t matter, back then I still had my raincoat. Fifteen minutes toward the first club and one of the Irish girls, called Rachel, begain to complain about her lack of rain gear. Being a gentleman, I insisted that she take my rain coat. Begrudgingly, she took me up on my offer, and I was later told it was a nice offer indeed.
Around 3AM, our group was separated, John, the Argentinian and I decided to head home, seeing as we were all soaked to our skin, and it was still pouring. We eventually found the hostel, but didn’t find the Irish girls until the next day. The next morning, or more aptly, the next day around 1PM, the Irish girls were hurredly packing after being kicked out of the hostel a mere 3 hours after they were supposed to have checked out. Rachel found me in the common room and broke the bad news. My rain coat was lost, possibly for ever. She felt bad even after I assured her it was no big deal...three times. She finally fit in one last apology just before a hurried goodbye moments before they all got the boot.
Still, after all this time, I didn’t miss my rain coat until today...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mich werde einem Tag hübsch sprechen

An important lesson I am learning here, is the way it feels when you are putting alot of effort into learning another language, and then someone makes fun of you, or mocks you. It doesnt even have to be anyone important, maybe just some kid in the 6th grade. Sixth graders are known for general brutality with words. In German there are alot of words that take great effort to say, and two particular verbs, Machen and Magen, which mean to do and to enjoy, which are a little hard to distingush when I say them. A sixth grader caught privy to this and decided to raz me about it. Now I’m not really one to take a joke to hardly, but I don’t know it just is abrasive when you are trying your best and it isn’t good enough, or someone makes fun of your best. It just left me with this feeling of belittlment. It is a good lesson to learn, but a tough one to learn at the same time. Coming through this I definitely understand the perils and hardships of learning a new language, and the stressful alone feeling you get when it is imperative that you learn a new language in order to properly communitcate. Not that I was ever narrow minded on that issue, but I have to say, I think my mind is becoming ever wider.
Another thing I am doing is reading The Posionwood Bible, and I just find myself wishing the Preacher character would be more understanding. But it is a really good book.
I also think I am getting a cold. Being medically minded, I logically have thought about my symptoms and am quite sure I have a slight fever, throat ache, and congestion. I am tacking vitamins, and am supposed to gargle salt water. If I am still feeling the same by saturday I am going to the doctor, mostly becuase I have good health insurance. And because someone would make me go to the doctor around here anyway. But don’t worry, I should pull out A-Okay, but encourageing notes/letters/packages are welcome all the same.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Case of The Mondays?
So today I was all alone with the Third grade. I wish I could say it went well, or that it was easy, but it wasn’t. Not because of my limited German vocabuarly, I found I had enough words to get my point across, but because the kids just don’t feel the need to listen to me. Not unless I yell, which I had to do several times. But yelling in German isn’t the same really, it’s not so much about volume, but more about speed. You really have to know what you’re about to say, and you have to say it fast. Of course this was the class where one of the girls glued hair from her head to her chin, so what did I expect. Now one oddity about it all was the fact that none of the kids had paper. I asked them to get a sheet of paper, and they all gave the same excuse: We left our English folder at home. I don’t know if they just had some stigma about using paper from another folder during English class, or what, but I ended up haveing to pretty much order some kids to share a peice of paper, and passing out a few sheets. It was crazy. On the other hand my one real English lesson of the day went really well. It was with one of my favorite classes, the 2nd Grade B, they are pretty excited about English, and enjoy singing. Today we did parts of the body and sang Head Shoulders, Knees and Toes, which based on their guesses as to what feet and legs were they had sung before. I’m not sure if it is supposed to go to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down, but it did in this case. Days like this I feel good about my German skills, but bad about my child management skills. But German schools are different, and the kids want to be my friends and not particularly my students. So that adds to the difficulty.
In other, more unfortunate news, I believe I am getting sick. Or rather I fear that I am. My throat is a bit sore as I write this, and I feel tired and a bit sore, especially my head. The sore throat may be from talking loudly at the kids, but I am not sure.
That just goes to show you....

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sankt Martin's Tag

So I realize I should be writing about my vacation, but I’ll have to get to that later. It was alot of fun though, and I met some new people. But anyway, it’s St. Martin’s day in Germany which is really a good excuse to carry around lanterns and sing a song about it. It goes like this: Laterne, Laterne, Sun und Mond und Sterne. Which means: Lantern, lantern, son and moon and stars. Yeah, doesn’t rhyme in English. St. Martin was apparently this soldier who gave his coat to a homeless man, who turned out (so the story goes) to be Jesus. Though I wager it’s meant a bit more figuratively. The way Gary and I celebrated was with the curch and the kids. The church got the kids together and we made lanterns, (mine is the most awesome lantern ever made...) then we lit the candles and went on a parade singing the lantern song. Well, attempting to sing it. I don’t know the whole thing. It was pretty fun, and the kids are getting used to me, and I am getting used to having to only talk to them in German, or at least mostly in German.

This morning we also did our Saturday Bible School type thing. I got to drive the big van, which is a diesel and a stickshift. Not too hard, but a little nervewracking at first. But really it was a fun day, good old Saint Martin could teach us alot, I mean it’s hard to give up your jacket when it is cold outside.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I think I'm turning European
Naw, not really. However I did just notice today, after spending many hours on public transportation lugging luggage (good word choice? as always) around by my lonesome. It afforded me alot of time to think. At first I thought about life and important things, like not being sad that my vacation is over, though I was, but I was also happy in that weird way you feel happy to not be wandering anyway. I thought about being happy to come home to Berlin, well Altes Lager, and how I do sort of miss some of the kids and the people. But then I realized that the clothes I am wearing are European. Not a big deal, huh. Well not really but sometimes I like symbols. Right now I have my German Levi's that I was given from a friend, and my Euro Adidas shoes. Top it all off with my fancy Euro winter jacket and I'm just one of those crazy Germans you keep hearing about, I even throw in a bit of Deutsch to seal the deal (but don't expect it to be quick or always on topic, but that is something you deal with from me in English sometimes too).
That said, life is good at the moment (though I miss Arrested Development) Even if it is winter and gets dark at 5PM.