As promised, my refusal to get weighed down with all the regrets with a list of five highlights of my first term.
1) My wonderful, wonderful Host Family
As the first people I met in Munich these people have to be number one on my list. They have not only given me a place to stay in a desert of affordable accommodation, but they have completely welcomed me into their family life; starting on my first day where I was invited to the husband’s surprise birthday party along with 30 other members of their friends and family. I. Was. Terrified. But I persevered going along on walks, joining in with games night, even meeting and staying with their extended family. It may not all sound very exciting but they have given me a home away from home, not just just a room in a house and in a big city where I know no one, I am grateful.
And that’s without mentioning the great effect that living with them has had on my German. Especially the little daughter. She’s the best tutor ever. For anyone wanting language practice I would seriously recommend babysitting a three-year-old. My pronunciation has improved from reading to her, I get to practice German without being self-conscious of making mistakes, and she just doesn’t seem to care that you sound funny. It was, however, a mildly depressing moment when I realised I have been learning German longer than she has and she’s still better than me.
While I’m still not convinced teaching is quite my thing, working in school has been fun, challenging, but fun. I am still terrible with the students names, yet I am getting to know them quite well; and I love walking through the school and hearing choruses of “Hello Mrs Morrison” (in a strong German accent), it makes me feel accepted and I genuinely look forward to going into school. There’s a first.
So I travel now. I’m a traveller. One who admittedly still very carefully chooses her hostels and has yet to embrace The Backpack. But nonetheless, I had a lovely few days in Venice with fellow Assistants across Bavaria. Visiting palaces, exploring islands, eating pasta, and even attending opera. Oh yes, and the walking tour. Love a good walking tour. I even popped to Verona for a day, fulfilling my English Lit Student duty and seeing Juliet’s balcony; for something that’s supposed to be romantic, the chewing gum people stick on the surrounding walls is repulsive. We didn’t stay long. But overall, a successful trip.
Still travelling. It’s almost as if I’ve caught the bug. Berlin did not disappoint as I had initially feared, what with all the hype around it. What I really love about the city is that it is not a museum to itself. Yes you can walk around and see the remnants of its destruction and subsequent division, but it has rebuilt itself and, with excellent museums in place to remember what is important, it’s happy to move one. Perhaps what illustrated this for me were the notice posts scattered around the place that were bulging with leaflets and posters; no one took the old ones down, but just stuck the new ones on top. Like the posters, Berlin has not tried to remove its past, but has simply built on top of it; it is the foundation of a thriving city that is the capital of one of the most successful and influential countries in the world today.
5) Christmas Markets
Christmas here started for me at the end of November with the opening of the Christmas markets. I have been to a LOT of Christmas markets, even travelling out to Ulm and Salzburg. Both beautiful small cities. I ate food, drank Gluehwein, at one point thinking I had drunk too much because all the stalls kept repeating the same stuff. Two slightly more unique markets that I particularly enjoyed were the Medieval and Tollwood. The former was a cute little thing, tucked into a hidden crevice of the city, selling things like medieval dress, alcohol and even wax and seals (who needs those?!). Tollwood was considerably bigger, held on the same grounds as Oktoberfest; the tents were brightly lit in rainbow colours and each one contained different things, from food to drink to handmade items. Charming. These definitely got me through the last remaining weeks until Christmas.
That’s term one, am now waiting to see what’s up in term two.