Friday, January 29, 2010

Where Treetops Glisten and Children Listen

As I sit at my desk, snowing is falling outside my window. What a winter I am experiencing! I have never lived in so much snow! It's been a fun week and a half since my birthday. Last Thursday night, we went to the "cinema" with Irmgart to see "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" It was fun to go to a German movie theater. Luckily, the movie was in English. We had assigned seats and were sitting behind a German woman who laughed hysterically about everything. It was pretty amusing to hear her reactions! After school on Friday, we went to the Grune Woche (Green Week)--an huge international food and drink exhibition. We spent four hours going through all the different halls--from Vietnam to Switzerland and everywhere in between--and sampling food from all over the world. My favorite was the Italian bruschetta and gelato, the Swiss cheese, and the Norwegian marmalades and waffles. We bought warm waffles and a jar of the raspberry marmalade. So delicious! We were exhausted when we got home from the Grune Woche, but it was so fun to experience an event that all the locals attended.

On Saturday, the sun shined for the first time since we have been here! Marianna and I decided to set out for Mitte on our own. We made it down to Potsdamer Platz and went shopping for a little bit. Then we went to the Ritter Sport Chocolate Store that recently opened. Ritter Sport is one of the most popular chocolate brands in Germany -- it really is some of the best chocolate you'll ever have. At the store, you can select your own mix-ins for a chocolate candy bar. I had a milk chocolate bar made with Smarties (Nestle's M&M's) and yogurt flakes. It was pretty good! The store also has a cafe upstairs and a little theater and display showing the history of Ritter Sport and how they make their chocolate bars. We had a really fun time visiting this new Berlin attraction! We went to church on Sunday--it was a nice service and the people are so welcoming. Marianna and I were invited by one of the pastor's wives for dinner on Tuesday. It was very nice of her--we enjoyed an American home-cooked meal and spending time with a family. What a blessing.

This week has been busy with school. I am in the midst of lots of planning for upcoming units -- Ancient Greece, Geometry, Literature Circles, and Art! The kids are starting to acknowledge me more. :) They greet me in the morning and say good-bye to me at the end of the day. It has been fun getting to know them and my teacher. We took the kids out for sledding again yesterday. No one asked me to sled down this time--My teacher Susan said, "Congratulations, you have know crossed the line from friend to teacher!" Haha.

Tomorrow morning, Marianna and I leave for Italy! I can't wait to see Sara Beth at the end of the trip! It is going to be wonderful! Ciao!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Alles Gute Zum Geburtstag to Me!

Although it was first birthday without my twin sister, it was better than I could have expected! First of all, I woke up in Germany--which is special in and of itself! (I am trying to continually remind myself that I am in this spectacular place and not to take it for granted.) After I got ready for school, I went into the kitchen to make breakfast and my host mom Irmgart had laid out a pretty white table cloth with gifts and flowers for me! It was such a great surprise! She left me a card, hot chocolate mix, a gift wrapped in beautiful Florentine paper, German candy, and yellow tulips!

School was a normal day. I didn't tell my teacher it was my birthday--you know I don't like attention. haha. Well, during homeroom, she said, "Everyone, I have an announcement to's Miss Terry's birthday!!" (Marianna had told her!) The kids all clapped and then sang "Happy Birthday" to me in English. I guess that's more fun for them than singing in German--since German is most of their first languages. They had all signed a card for me in secret, so that was another nice surprise.

After school, I opened birthday cards from my family and friends and skyped with mom, Sara Beth, and some friends. It was great to get to talk to them. I heard a knock on the door, and Marianna and I were kind of nervous to answer it... when we did, it was a little old German man with a bouquet of flowers for me! I couldn't believe it!! They were from Grace and Caroline! So sweet! The flowers are very pretty--roses, daises, and others. They make my whole room smell wonderful and are a humbling reminder of the great friends I am blessed with!

When Irmgart got home, I opened my gift from her. It was a little floral pencil box. She wants me to use it for all my teacher pens and pencils. Isn't she so thoughtful?! I will use it here and then bring it home to use in my future classroom. We then got ready for dinner. We went out to a local Italian restaurant that Irmgart recommended. (There are so many Italian restaurants in Germany, but that's just fine with me!) Irmgart and Andrea (another student teacher from the University of Kentucky) came with me and Marianna. Irmgart translated the menu for us, and we all really enjoyed our dishes.

When we got home, I got to talk to my dad, mom, Sara Beth and some friends a little more. I didn't go to sleep until 23:00! It was late for a school night, but I loved getting to talk to everyone. I had a great birthday--one I will not soon forget. Thank you to everyone who prayed for my day, sent me cards, talked with me on skype, and wrote me emails and posts. I LOVE YOU ALL!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Snow, Sixth Graders, and Such

Wow! It has been quite a week! Where do I even begin? The rest of my first weekend included taking down Irmgart's Christmas tree and throwing it out the third story window (see video clip) and attending an international baptist church. It was a nice weekend getting acquainted with my new surroundings.

On Monday, Marianna and I hit the ground running with our first day at JFKS. I met my teacher and all my sixth grade students. I don't think the kids really knew what to think of me at first, but they are gradually warming up to me. What I was surprised about the most is that the students speak mostly in German to their peers unless they are addressing an English-speaking teacher. So, all of their group work and chatter throughout the day in entirely in German! I better get to work on my German, so I know if they are on task or not! ;) Thursday was a fun day, as my teacher and I got to take the kids out sledding in a nearby park as a reward for good behavior. I went down the hill twice--which earned me points for sure.

Marianna and I spent most of our afternoons after school exploring the area near our school. We have learned where to buy our groceries, how to get to the post office, and what times our bus comes at the different stops. It has been hard work learning the ropes of a Berliner, but I think we are doing pretty good all things considered.

This weekend we opted to stay in Berlin to do a little exploring. It's a huge city with so much to see. Friday night we did some shopping after school and then went to a local Italian restaurant. It was really cute and the chef-waiter was very nice. On Saturday, Irmgart took us around Mitte (the downtown area of Berlin). She showed us the big shopping areas for young people and pointed out where the museums where. We got to walk through the famous Brandenburg Gate and see all the embassies. It was so nice of her to take time out of her weekend to give us a tour. We enjoyed it! Marianna and I went to another international Baptist church yesterday with a teacher from our school. We also liked this church and seeing another part of town. Since we had MLK Day off today, Marianna's teacher Karla met up with us and showed us around her neighborhood. We saw a beautiful Jewish synagogue and a part of the former Berlin Wall that is still intact. Karla also took us to this cute cafe with mismatched furniture and eccentric decorations. We had cakes, tea, and coffee. She said that at night it is called the Wine Bar and patrons eat and drink as much as they like and then pay how much they think they ate/drank at the end of the evening. Interesting, huh? Marianna and I would like to go back and see what it's like.

There is a lot to see and do here in Berlin and we have barely scratched the surface!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Guten Tag, Berlin!

Well, I finally got here! After almost 20 hours of traveling, including 8 unexpected hours at the Munich airport due to the snow in Germany, I arrived at my flat. The flat is in a building called Villa Elisabeth--about 100 years old and in the town of Kleinmachnow. It is a town just outside of Berlin and was occupied by the Government Democratic Republic, meaning it was part of East Germany and closed off by the Berlin Wall! It is a cute little town--very family-oriented and quaint. Hopefully, Marianna and I will do some exploring tomorrow.

My first night here, Irmgart made noodles and meat sauce and green beans, so I enjoyed that. I got unpacked and went to sleep soon after, since I hadn't had much sleep. This morning, she made us a traditional German breakfast with different breads, marmalades, milk cream, cheese, and sliced meat. She also had hard-boiled eggs for each of us and made her own grapefruit juice. It was a very nice. She said these are our "welcome meals," as we will be making our own food from here on out. Then, we hurried to run a few errands with her since all the shops close around 2 o'clock on Saturdays. We went to pick up pictures from her Christmas holiday, got some cakes for tea time, and went to another store to get her a "stepper"--a mini stair-master type thing for Irmgart's new year's resolution. Then, she took us to see the lake she loves to visit throughout the year, especially in summer. It was frozen with snow on top of it. It was beautiful!

It has been a snowy day! All the children are pulled around on sleighs and older people use ski poles for canes, as they walk around. Since our errands this morning, we have not gone out. We had tea time this afternoon with tea (not sweet tea, I'm afraid ;) and the cakes we picked out from the bakery in the grocery store. Irmgart got the map out of the United States and had us show her where we are from. Then, we gave her the Auburn shirt we bought for her. She loved it and was very pleased with a t-shirt from an American university. She likes the colors of the shirt, she said. So, the gift was a hit! War Eagle! The rest of the night we will stay in and probably have leftovers from last night. So far, so good! I'm excited to get to know Berlin better. It seems like a really great city!