It's officially been a month since I returned home from Europe! I've loved spending the last few weeks sharing stories about my trip to friends and family. Talking about my time in Europe really makes me think about the cultural differences but also all the similarities Germany and the USA share. After returning home, all I could talk about if how I wanted to move to Germany. When I was in Germany I felt extremely independent; I saved up for this trip all on my own, traveled on my own through your Germany and extended my trip to travel alone with friends. Thinking about how I was just on the subway a month ago in Stuttgart, meeting up with friends to shop is so bittersweet. I'm very proud of myself for being able to get down the subway system and travel alone confidently. To some people this might be very silly or not important but after my trip I felt a lot more empowered. However, there wasn't much of a language barrier which helped me greatly. When I was in the schools listening to the children speak German I felt very overwhelmed and impressed. I think it's amazing that these students learn German and English, then eventually pick up another language. This makes me think about those who come to the USA from other countries. The struggle of learning a new language and being in a whole new country is a lot to get used to. Trying to learn German was very hard for me and I didn't learn much. I wasn't able to follow most of it either because I felt like everyone talked so fast. This is something I'm going to consider when I teach; people say I talk fast all the time and it's something I need to become more aware of. I want to make sure I'm talking clear and slow enough for my students in order for them to fully understand me, especially those learning the language. This trip has taught me many ways to incorporate those of all cultures as well. I think it's very important to highlight every culture in the classroom. There is so much we can all learn from each other and our cultures. I will definitely allow students to talk about their cultures with the class each year in order to teach each other and to help make all my students feel accepted. I am very grateful to have been able to have this experience.
My trip to Germany is officially complete and I can't believe how fast my time here passed. Looking back at the last two and a half weeks it seems like just yesterday I was arriving in Berlin. However, looking back I am so impressed with all the things I've accomplished within this time. I was able to see numerous amazing, historical sites, travel on my own and take on a whole new city. I learned so many things about my myself, culture and education throughout this experience.
In the classroom, sitting in a German class I realized how stressful and overwhelming it must be to a English language learner. I felt very overwhelmed and lost sitting throughout German courses while I was in the school. It makes me even more impressed that these students learn German and English and do it so well. I think it's amazing how these students learn a second language starting in first grade compared to the United States. I wish I had the opportunity to learn a second language earlier on. Remembering how overwhelmed I felt will help me better educate and plan future lessons for any students I have beginning to learn English. In my placement last semester, there were a few students who were learning English in the fourth grade. All the English vocabulary words had to be put into 5-7 other languages in order to help meet everyone's needs. I was so impressed with my mentor teacher's ability to modify her lesson to benefit everyone. With these two experiences I will be able to understand the struggle my students are facing and try my hardest to help them.
I fell in love with Germany on this trip. I will definitely be heading back here in a few years to visit. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity and I am so upset that this chapter is finally coming to an end. Next stop: Paris!
Yesterday we were able to visit a Waldorf school which was probably one of my favorite things we were able to do on this trip! After visiting the Waldorf school in East Aurora I instantly fell in love with the environment and philosophy of the school. Waldorf schools teach so that the students learn with their head, hearts and hands. I think this philosophy is amazing because to truly learn I personally think you must make a connection what you are learning. Physically doing a task will help students better understand what they're learning and being able to make personal connections will help them retain the information. In the East Aurora Waldorf school, I was placed in a second grade class and yesterday I was placed in a fourth grade classroom. I automatically could see the difference between the grades when I walked in. The second grade classroom had a lot of art throughout the room, there was more singing and the students did many activities on the floor. In fourth grade, we sat through their math class; they were learning about adding and subtracting fractions. The teacher was reviewing the topic and then read a chapter of a story to the students. They sang a song before leaving for handcrafting class. There was a lot of nature in the fourth grade classroom just like the second grade. However, I didn't see as much art throughout the class. You can tell that by fourth grade they start learning more skills they can use academically. We were able to sit in on the music class which was amazing. The students are very talented and we were impressed with their voices.
All the students seemed eager to learn. No child was complaining and too off task during the lesson. After discussing our observations, we all agreed that the students are very confident and determined on their own. They do things such as knitting, wood working and also learn French while learning German and English. I think the students are so confident in themselves and determined because they can see themselves accomplishing things on their own. It's very impressive to see these children have such amazing skills at young ages, they all seemed very happy and "free". I feel like sometimes in schools at home students are way too stressed and aren't allowed to be as creative. After this second visit, I want to visit other Waldorf schools and send my future children to such a school!
Munich was such an amazing city to have the opportunity to visit. I felt very welcomed when we arrived at the hostel and there were free postcards and pretzels waiting for us to grab! The rooms were very cozy and we lucked out with our own private bathroom! We had a nice conversation about the concentration camp we visited on our way to the city, in the lobby. We discussed what parts of the concentration camp that really spoke to us all individually. I personally couldn't get over the fact that the same place I was walking on once contained 200,000 Jewish people. I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that people lost their lives and were tortured on the same stones I was walking on. It was surreal to be actually walking through the camp. We spent so much time throughout school learning about this tragic time in history and I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit the camp and see it for myself. It's hard with all the barracks down to believe how many people really were living in the camp. The audio was detailed in explaining everything that went on in each section of the camp; sometimes too much detail.
One thing I appreciated while at the camp was that I didn't see anyone being disrespectful. There were a few people taking selfies with selfie sticks which kind of threw me off, but I was reminded that walking through, we don't know everyone's reason for visiting. You could see the distress in people's faces as they walked around the camp. However, I don't think I or anyone else have ever felt so unsettled until they reached the gas chambers. Walking through I automatically felt complete suffocation and my stomach flipped. As I read the process of moving the people from one room to another, convincing them they were going to get a "shower", I just wanted to cry.
This experience in Munich will be one I will never forget. Even though we didn't have time to view many monumental sites in Munich, I am blessed to have been able to visit the camp. This experience is one that I'm glad I will get to tell my family and friends about.
Never again ❤️
It became very clear when we first arrived in Berlin that we were always going to be on the move! We had so much to see already in the first day; there was a lot to take in. At first the city reminded me of New York City because of the constant rush, subways, and street food. The streets were always busy, you heard live music around every corner and different smells filled the air.
My favorite part about our first day was the Holocaust Memorial. Even from doing research while prepping for Germany I knew it would be one of my favorite things to be able to see. There were children playing on the memorial which I found to be very rude considering it is a memorial. However, since it is in the middle of a city and takes up a whole block, people may not actually know what it sympolizies when they walk by. It was interesting waking through the blocks and really taking the time to appreciate the design of the memorial. It's so important to realize and remember that all the lives lost were different individuals; they weren't all the same, which the artist shows perfectly by this memorial.
While visiting the Jewish Museum, I also walked through another similar memorial; it was called the Garden of Exile. While walking though and listening to the audio, I became uneasy and found it difficult to walk. The slanted floors make you feel like you're struggling to walk up the slant and the cobble stone floors make it uneven. The audio went along great with this Museum because it helped further explain things and the thought process behind the whole set up of the museum. This Museum could've took days to walk through. There was so much information that I did not have the chance to read; it was so well organized and thorough. It was such a great experience to be able to walk through both; to further understand how the Holocaust affected Germany and how they do their best to respect those who lost their lives due to such a tragic time. This is an experience I will carry with me for a life time.
Garden of Exile
The countdown is almost done! In a little over 24 hours I will on my way to Germany for a once in a lifetime adventure. I can't wait to explore Germany, observe in a classroom and finally meet my host! There's been so much preparation happening the last few weeks; finalizing our itenerary, packing and discussing last minute details with my host. I am so excited for the adventures we will be taking on as travel through Germany.
I'm especially excited to see another Waldorf school! After visiting the Aurora Waldorf school here in Buffalo, I've been obsessed with the idea of sending my future children there! Waldorf school allows imagination, creativity and play which some schools are lacking. These schools allow children to be themselves and learn hands on. This is so important since technology is taking over young children's free time these days. I cannot wait to see more while I'm in Germany and be able to take back some strategies to the USA! Here's to an amazing three weeks of exploring Europe!
I was in EXE 364 when Dr. Patti came into the room and informed the class of this amazing opportunity to spend two and a half week in Germany. The first thing I did when I walked out of class was call my mom and tell her I'm traveling to Germany. I knew this was an opportunity I could not pass up and I had to do everything I could to make sure this dream came true! My father's family is from Germany and I'm beyond excited to be able to learn more about my heritage. I am mostly excited to learn more about myself after studying abroad. Everyone emphasizes how you don't just learn more about culture when you study abroad, but that you find out so much more about yourself as an individual.
I can't wait to meet my host teacher and her students. I am ready to learn more about education in Germany and gain new strategies and knowledge that I can apply to my future classroom. Living with my host teacher will really allow myself to immerse in the culture and experience everyday life in Germany. I am nervous that I may become homesick, but I'm ready and overly excited to try new things while in Germany and obtain an open mind! This opportunity of a lifetime that I must take full advantage of which is why I extended my trip to also travel to Paris and Amsterdam! June 15th can't come fast enough!