The night we arrived in Toronto, I could feel myself dragging along. All I kept thinking was "just a little bit more and then you'll be home." Finally around midnight I had made it to my parents house. I longed to see my family and they definitely perked me up after the long trip home.
The following day I went to Fourth of July fireworks in my Berlin sweater. Although I was enjoying being back in the States, I kept on thinking about Germany. I missed my host family, my friends on the trip, and the overall culture. It was also very hard to get used to the time change coming back. I actually slept through most of the fireworks! In the following days I told all my friends and family about the trip and showed off pictures. Looking back on what I really learned from the trip, I find that it was more than I expected. The schools taught me a lot about classroom management. The students there listen well and respect their teachers. One item they used was a chime to get the attention of the class. I was amazed when it worked so well. I also learned more about play time in school. It's very important to allow students to play and take breaks. I found that when they did this they had a much easier time paying attention during a lesson.
I also learned that I have the ability to be completely independent. It sounds strange, however I had my doubts about how well I was going to be able to get around Germany. I found that it was very organized and I picked up on words and signs easily. i plan on going back to Europe in the near future and feel much more confident about transportation and safety while I'm there. Overall, the trip taught me a great deal about schooling and culture. I also made amazing friendships and memories to last a lifetime. If you're ever questioning yourself on doing an adventure like this...say yes! You'll be glad you did.
Our last in Germany was bitter-sweet. All of us ladies with our hosts got to together and went out to dinner. We met at a traditional German restaurant in downtown Stuttgart. The atmosphere was warm and the food was even better. As it was my last night in Germany, I had to try the Schnitzel; a dish my mother raved about. And it was amazing! The food in general blew me away throughout the trip. As we sat around the table enjoying our meals, we discussed some of our favorite memories, what we're going to miss, and what we're looking forward to. After dinner we walked through Stuttgart and I tried to take as much of it in as I could. It was my last time being there so I pictured myself a sponge soaking up the culture. We made our way through a festival held on the streets. There were drinks, food and music, with crowds of people that were so difficult to get through. Yet I loved every minute of it!
The morning we left was harder than I thought it would be. Everything was packed and ready to go. I still wanted to take one last walk around the neighborhood so that it was imprinted in my mind. Unfortunately there wasn't enough time but I spent the morning saying goodbye to my host mom. Although she couldn't speak English, she was wonderful to Rachel and I! She made the most amazing dishes and always greeted us with a smile. Annette and our host brother Artem, drove us to the airport. At that point it was all tears from Rachel and I. It didn't really hit me that we were leaving until I had to leave them. It was still a happy moment though. I'm still in contact with them and look forward to going back one day! Or maybe they will come here to Buffalo! only time will tell.
As we drove to the Black Forest I could see the changes in the landscape. The forest became very dense and hills looked to be getting steeper. When we arrived at the farm the land was stunning. The farms had been kept up with and were surrounded by gardens and farm animals. As we walked with our tour guide I saw how the roofs on the farm houses were made. I had no idea that they were made completely out of straw. It was so thick and packed tightly together that it was the best protection they had from the elements. I loved listening to the history and looking at the different tools they used to live their lives. Life was very hard as a farmer, yet these farms lastest for hundreds of years!
One interesting part was that there could be twenty plus people living in one farmhouse at a time. The masters would have the largest bedroom and sit at the corner to the meeting windows in the living area. The men would sit against the windows and the women would sit across from them. This was because at that time, women were not supposed to looked men in the eyes. The light would come in from the windows which would make it hard to see the mens faces but easy to see the women.
It was certainly a different time but one that was very interesting. I give the men and women living on those farms a great deal of credit. I can't imagine the hard labor that they had to put themselves through every day to survive. The Black Forest was certainly one of my most favorite parts of this trip. I hope to go back one day and get to se more!
Germany is so beautiful and rich in culture, and as it turns out, the schools are the same way! On my first day in the school I got to see some lessons and how the students played. The lessons seem similar to the ones that would be taught back in The United States. However, there is very little rushing of the students. Teachers go at an appropriate pace for the students and they get to enjoy the learning more.
The classroom climate is also very different in a great way. Students are free to roam the classroom, eat, and play at almost anytime that does not involve direct instruction. Windows are left open for fresh air and students can wave outside the windows to their friends playing outside. Many of the teachers use some sort of chime to get the attention of the class. To my amazement, this works very well! The control that the teachers have is impressive. They never have to raise their voice to anyone either.
The day is generally no more than four hours long so students bring a lunch or snacks but only eat it throughout the day. They do however have a lot of play time! Students go outside on the playground for twenty-plus minutes at least once a day. That goes along with all the free time that is in the classroom itself. Overall I love the schools! I hope to see more schools like this in America full of happy and healthy children!
On our way to Munich we stopped at the Dachau Concentration Camp. I tried to prepare myself for the things that I would see but there is in fact no way to truely do that. As we walked through the courtyard and came to the edge, we could see the barbed wire and outposts where SS soldiers would watch with loaded guns. In the area I saw a plaque showing a picture of a person who had been shot and their body was tangled in the barbed wire. The plaque read that many prisoners purposefully ran to the wire as if they were trying to escape. In reality however, they ran so that they would get shot and end their suffering.
At that moment I could feel the heavy weight on me that I thought I had prepared myself for. It was overwhelming to think that I stood in the exact spot where people had been murdered. Even now as I describe these feelings in this blog, I have trouble finding the words and can only feel numb and at the same time emotional. It's an experience that you could never really explain. It is something that you would have to see for yourself. As hard as it was, it was very important. I'm a strong believer in people learning from our previous mistakes. This is why history is vital for everyone to know. It's one of the reasons we remember these murders and say "Never Forget". Looking back now, I'm so glad to have gone so that I can now bring these experiences back home. I can share it with future students and help them to see the importance of history and knowledge. Take time to look really think about this blog. It's one that is very important to reflect on. Thanks for all of your comments and support!
Going into Germany I knew that there would be many other cultures other than the traditional Germany most people think of. In Berlin I was surprised to see how many different cultures there were. In many ways it reminded me of America in the way that we are said to be a "melting pot" or "salad bowl". People living in Berlin came from places such as the Middle East, Italy, Russia, Africa, and Asia. This has been the case for a long time now but the diversity has grown even more in recent years. This is due to so many refugees fleeing to safer areas. One German citizen said that its great that they are welcomed in the country but there are also problems that come with it. Such issues include theft and homelessness. However, most people agree that Germany should continue to help the refugees escape.
Another interesting culture I noticed in Berlin was the gay and lesbian culture. Berlin embrasses and supports this community. There were many same sex couples showing public displays of affection which was not at all frowned upon. In fact, the street where our hotel was located was known to be the area where many gay bars and clubs were located. It was very refreshing to see the German people welcome others from all different communities and cultures! I hope to see more of this positivety in America! Berlin was amazing an the rest of Germany is going to be wonderful. Thank you all for reading!
Today is the day I leave for Germany! Everything is packed and now I just have to put the finishing touches on everything. I have all kinds of butterflies in my stomach; some nervous ones but mostly excited! I've gone over the full itinerary and I'm really looking forward to seeing the artistic pieces left of the Berlin Wall and seeing the Black Forest. I may still have distant relatives in both those areas but unfortunately I don't have their contact information. I still am so excited to see where have of my family came from! I also am really looking forward to meeting my host family. I'm sure they are really nice but I'm glade to be staying with Rachel. I think she will really help me to not feel homesick while I'm there. I hope I can do the same for her! I've also been looking at the weather in Berlin and Stuttgart and it looks absolutely beautiful! Today in Buffalo it's supposed to be warm and rainy. At least I can avoid the rain in a limo bus! I think the ride to Toronto is going to be a lot of fun. Surely there will be a lot of girl bonding time! As of now, it seems that all the puzzle pieces are falling in place. I'll take plenty of pictures for you all. Wish me luck!
Wow, I can't believe how close I am to June 15th! I have never traveled to Europe before and making this a huge leap for me. I've learned only a small amount about the education system of other countries. It is all very interesting but what is even better is that I get to go and see it in real life! There is a small part of me that is nervous however, my excitement cannot be contained. This experience is going to allow me to be submerged in a new culture while also researching the best teaching practices. From this I will be a more well rounded teacher and person. There is so much value to bring back to the United States that I can share with friends, family, students, and colleagues.
I am a firm believer that one must learn to appreciate and understand others people, places, and cultures in order to better themselves and those around them. that is what I plan to get out of this trip. I am so lucky to be going with a group of people that share my passion for education and travel. I look forward to what we will learn together and from each other. Let the count down begin!
Hello and welcome to my blog! I am an Education major at Buffalo State College and will soon be traveling to Germany to teach and observe in the German classrooms. I enjoy learning about history and other cultures as well as meeting new people. I hope you enjoy reading my blog as I share my experiences and knowledge with you!