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Back again

I'm back in good ol' Germany and far from what I would call relaxed and happy. Those 10 days in New York were absolutely too short and I want to go back there right now. We did some more fun things, like seeing the Blue Man Group, having a drink at a rooftop bar, crossed the Brooklyn Bridge by foot, went to a lot of amazing restaurants, danced the night away at an upper class disco and got a bottle of champagne there for free (normally costs $525!), just by pure luck... Etc etc. And there is still so much more to see and do.
But now I'm stuck here and have to do my work which of course I didn't do in NY. I have to prepare the next two weeks of grade 5 math lessons since I will be taking over that class, and also I have to prepare a seminar talk (how naive was I when I thought I'd be over with that when I finished university) for tuesday, and I should be learning another programming language so that I can hold a computer science lesson as well - eventually.
I am really not motivated at all right now. I have a major jetlag, can't sleep at night and tired during the day. Plus, now there are doubts again in my head whether I really want to be a teacher. Do I really want to put up with all these noisy students and all that stress in the morning? Do I really want to go back to school? Do I really want a job where I never have "Feierabend" (there is just no english word for that)? Do I really want a job where I am stuck to one school in Germany?
It's all really confusing right now.
27.10.06 16:42

Childhood phantasies

Yesterday we went to an absolutely amazing bar: a chocolate bar! I have never experienced anything quite like it before, but it was just the right thing for me, like something you've always been dreaming about when you were a kid. The place just opened in August in NYC, and it's a bit like a restaurant. The colors inside are all in warm brown, cream and orange tones (a bit like in the movie "Chocolat"), the lights are low, candles here and there. When you enter the bar the first thing you see is two huge tubs with melted chocolate flowing around making you want to dip your finger right in it (they seemed to suspect that so they covered them up...). There is a huge pipe running at the ceiling in all directions and you can imagine it is filled with liquid chocolate (it isn't as we later found out, but still it adds to the whole picture). Everywhere in the room are chocolate-related decorations: gigantic oversized chocolate bars, bowls filled with cocoa beans, a long counter presenting their pralines, chocolate cakes, etc.
Then comes the most difficult part: you have to choose something from the menu. But it all sounded so yummy, I wanted to have it all. You should definitely have a look at their menu, it's amazing! It can be found here:
Max Brenner (That's the name of the clever guy who invented that concept. He's a genius!)
E.g. they have "italian thick hot chocolate" served in the "hug mug", or "intense double chocolate fudge cake", or "choctails"... Just thinking about it now makes me want some chocolate!!
We finally decided on the "Sharing (for two)", so that we could try all sorts of things... The way they serve it is amazing, too. Part of our "meal" was a chocolate foundue, which is served in a small rechaud (heated by a candle) on a little tray. To top it of they put a second stove beside it with a bigger (blue) fire where you can roast your marshmallows!
We also had a huge plate with all sorts of little chocolaty things in there, including a little cannikin out of glass filled with chocolate sauce, so that you could spread chocolate wherever you wanted, or a small glass with warm chocolate truffle cream and popping candies, that you had to mix with a miniature spoon before eating it (tasted a bit like the special Milka edition "Knisterschokolade" or whatever it was called)...
I could go on and on about this whole thing. As you can see it was really amazing for little cloudy. And I want to go there again!

To relieve our conscience a bit we went to the gym before... It was my first time in a gym ever. It felt truely american. I was amazed by the service there, they give you as many towels as you want, they have soap and shampoo in the showers, there is a sauna, they have hair dryers, body cream... Now I don't know what it's like in other gyms, maybe that's normal. But I thought it was really neat, so you dont have to carry so much stuff around with you all day if you want to go to the gym after work. Of course we went to one right in Manhattan, one block away from where Maxime works. The machine where I went on (no idea what it's called, it was neither walking nor running nor biking, more like hill climbing with things for your arms as well) had a counter for everything, like the steps made, the distance and the calories burnt. It showed something like 300 when I was finished - I'm afraid that didnt quite make up for our dinner... But who cares, the chocolate experience was totally worth it!
18.10.06 16:42

... and yet another home?

Here I am in NYC - and it really feels like I haven't been away for very long. Everything still seems to be very familiar, like taking the subway, walking around in Brooklyn or in the East Village in Manhattan...

The day I arrived Maxime had a concert with his band "The Max Affaire" in a bar in the East Village. It was their first concert, and they really rocked!

There was quite a crowd (mostly friends, but still) and most of the people said afterwards that they should definitely try and play again somewhere. I think so too (but as I am the girlfriend of the drummer I don't really count as I might be influenced..). But I was lucky to have had the opportunity to see them play at least.

I don't have any big plans for my stay here, I should do some work for school while Maxime is working, but right now I would rather just enjoy my holidays..
17.10.06 18:11


Start spreading the news... - Again!

Tomorrow is the big day - I'm going to New York! Only for 10 days, but still... Better than nothing. We have a two week fall break, so today was the last day of school. I had a seminar in the afternoon, but now I'm done. Unfortunately it's the same with school holidays as it was with university holidays. It's more like "school free time" which will have to be used to prepare everything that's coming afterwards. After the break I'm going to take over the grade 5 class for two weeks, at the end of which I will have my first "Unterrichtsbesuch" (people will come and watch me teach, and even worse, they will give me a grade on my teaching, and I have to work out the whole lesson in a paper beforehand). I already took over two lessons in this class at the beginning of the week, and surprisingly enough, the kids still like me! And the results of the math test were normal, so everything seems to be alright again... Luckily.
I'm looking forward to be responsible for a whole session of lessons, to be able to plan them how I think is reasonable, and maybe to try out a couple of things.

Unlike me I haven't packed yet, so I better get started. I'll have to leave early tomorrow morning...
13.10.06 18:25

Cold hearted woman?

I made my students cry. In the math test. What a horrible person I must be.

The math teacher of the grade 5 class (age 10) where I taught last week asked me to supervise today's math test. She couldn't make it because she had to be in an examination sort of thing, so of course I agreed because it seemed to be one more important experience. She gave me the tests and explained everything to me, and to be honest I didnt think it would be much of a deal: handing out the tests, supervising so that noone is cheating, collecting the tests, done.
Reality was different. I arrived early in the classroom to prepare everything, already wrote the date and stuff on the blackboard. There were not enough places to sit for everyone since we were in a different classroom than usual, so I had to get a table and chair from the room next door. But there was a class in there, so I asked politely whether I could borrow a desk and chair for the math exam next door. The teacher there was not very happy about me disturbing her class and told me that quite directly in front of all her students. But as I was in a hurry and didnt really have a choice I took a table anyway. That is, two girls of her class even came out to help me with it... Great start.
Then my grade 5 kids arrived bit by bit, they were supposed to get out earlier from the lesson before, but that didnt really work, so we already had a bit of a late start. Then it took me really long to hand out all the sheets and papers (next time I'll know better, I'll not do everything on my own but get students to help me...). Of course, with 33 students in one class.
The math teacher showed up for 2 minutes (she had told me she would be coming, to be there to answer urgent questions) just while I was still handing out the work sheets. She gave me a really puzzled look and asked me why I was starting that late, and that I should hand out quicker - also in front of the class.
Once the students all had their sheets the questions started, so I went around to answer them quietly. But each time I went somewhere it became noisy in the classroom, so finally I said that I can't answer any more questions if they're getting noisy each time.
Then there was silence.
Until I heard a little sniffing. And again. A little girl had started to cry! First I didnt know what to do, but finally I went there, since the boy next to her had started crying, too! And I didnt want a crying epidemic in the classroom. I tried to calm them down and to encourage them. I succeeded with the boy, but the girl didnt come down during the whole 45min.
After a while I started answering questions again, since they had so many! Most of them are really small questions like "Am I allowed to write with pencil?" or "What do I do now with the equality sign, it doesn't fit in the line any more?" Use the next line!
And some kids just don't understand that I can't help them in a test, I can't give them the answers. But it happened a few times more that I saw tears in their eyes when they didn't know an answer and I couldnt help them. It's like their whole life depends on this math test. And you have to be really cold hearted to be able to be consequent and not be influenced by a few kids' tears.

I realised I am not (yet?). It was a horrible experience for me.

Later on today I ran into the teacher whose class I had disturbed earlier on. It turned out that she had had major discipline problems with that class in that lesson, and when I came in she had just created a silent working atmosphere, and I blew it all. So we apologized to each other and everything was fine again.
I also met with the math teacher later on, and hearing the context of it all she was also sorry that she had overreacted a bit when she came in, and that the kids crying is normal in grade 5 math tests.
Somebody could have told me! Well, now I know, and I also learned that supervising a test isn't just done with supervising...
5.10.06 15:12

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