So now that I’ve mostly reclaimed my sanity (mostly), let me share a little of a usual day with you. Remember there have only been five of these – a combination of placement test, national holiday, and weekend mean that although I left Maine two weeks ago, I’ve only been at this crazy venture for five class days (or 21 hours), a quarter of the course, more or less.
Here’s a shot of my “home away from home,” the little bakery downstairs staffed in the morning (I learned today) by a lovely man from Afghanistan, Sharif, who has only been in Germany for four months. My German is only marginally worse than his, it turns out (we’ll learn together). Here is where I slurp my first cup of joe and check my email before setting off for school, roundabout 8:00 am or so:
Here’s the view as I leave from the door on the right above and set out to school. My travel time is about 30 minutes – 10 to the subway, 10 on the train, and 10 to the school. (On the way home I usually find some interesting walk or other to clear my head.)
Along the way I pass this lovely church, the Roman Catholic classic St. Michael’s Church, complete with May lilacs blooming at the moment:
Before long I arrive at “my” subway stop:
…and down the hatch we go to wait for the next train. They’re never more than five minutes apart at rush hour…
…and six stops later on the U8 pop I out and begin the trek at that end:
Here I am arriving at school – a wonderful old electric factory turned into multiple educational enterprises:
I’m deliberately not identifying the school for reasons mentioned below, so forgive me if I don’t give you a lot of details about the interior. I have to share, however, a little about the audio experience here. There is a bi-lingual primary and secondary school in residence, and the voices of die glücklichen Kinder beim Spielen – the happy children at play – resound *all day long.* Charming, but loud. Today someone is banging on a drum as well. But it beats a lot of urban sounds, and it’s great to see and hear kids actually playing with each other as opposed to hunched over mobile devices.
To prove that I am actually beating my brains out learning German, here’s a snap of the most useful thing I did today (it was extremely helpful…simple, but effective) – a game with two of my classmates to help us beat the Dativ into our brains:
…and a shot of something that’s really cool for teaching – a smart board! The teacher writes on the white board with a special “pencil” and then the computer keeps track of every page she writes and she can return to it by just touching it (like a PowerPoint presentation – the green small pages on the left below). So, for example, if you write out a whole bunch of vocabulary, that page is electronically saved and you can return to it later in the lesson. This page, however, is our homework…
So when 1:15 pm finally rolls around, we’re all pretty bushed. One of the reasons I chose this particular school is that, because of the multiple educational entities in the complex, there is a dandy little cafeteria on the floor above us that serves a nice little variety of luncheon specials every day at student prices. Here’s a shot of some of the other inhabitants of the building genießen ihr Mittagessen – enjoying their lunches:
Usually after lunch I head back downstairs to hang out in the student lounge for a couple hours to use the excellent fast and free Internet and to try to plow through most of my homework before I completely flat-line. Here’s a shot of the room taken early in the am when it is unpopulated (except for my rucksack in the corner) – most of the day many of the chairs are filled.
Around now, that is 4:00 pm, I pack my bags and head out for the trip back down to my digs. Since it stays light here until well after 9:00 pm and the weather has been beautiful, this usually turns into some lovely ramble through some or other part of the city I have not yet explored. Last night, though, was a bit of a departure – my good friend Kurt invited me to the Schleusenkrug Biergarten to meet with him and a couple of his friends. This was no tribble atall, as you can imagine. So here’s a shot of my view from Kurt’s table into the chillin’ crowd. And the Pils wasn’t bad, either.
On that note, I will leave you for a spell. Don’t doubt for a moment that I’m having a wonderful time.