28 October 2008

Time Going By

I regret that I haven't been able to write more in the past couple weeks, but, for one thing, I've found that preparing for my classes requires a lot of time and, for another, there has not been much of noteworthy action to share. Nonetheless, here's a run through of activities since the last post.

The next Saturday after my last post I traveled to Nuremberg with Franzi, my tutor, and a few of her friends. They wanted to spend the day shopping in the big city, and asked if I would like to come along. I had flashbacks to the time I spent a day in Munich with four Italian girls who had the same goal in mind, and hesitated slightly, but I accepted in the end as it was a chance to go somewhere out of Eichstätt.

The train ride to Nuremberg took about an hour and a half. Not much seemed to have changed since the last time I was in the city about a year ago.

Before hitting the stores, we ate lunch at a restaurant called Bratwursthäusle. The specialty, as the name suggests, is the Nuremberger bratwurst. The small restaurant is a landmark in the old city and has been around for centuries. The tables and chairs in the dinning area felt like originals from the Middle Ages with their short heights. The open kitchen is in the middle of the building and can be seen below.

Nellie provided her watch to prove that we were indeed drinking beer at one o'clock in the afternoon, which is nothing out of the ordinary in Bavaria.

And of course a picture of the house specialty--bratwursts, sauerkraut, and mustard.

Next we headed to the stores. Below is a view from inside a department store that sells better quality goods, or at least ones with higher prices. The espresso bar on the right side might help you understand the store's atmosphere.

One of the interesting finds I made during the day was a shoe brand by the name of Memphis. I quickly took out my camera to document this connection to my hometown.

The girls found several articles of clothing to bring back to Eichstätt. I found an iron.

We wanted to eat at a Mexican restaurant for dinner, but could not find an open table in the establishment. It would have been helpful if the restaurant had a waiting list, but as this is Germany and that concept is reserved for only the nicest of restaurants, we settled for Italian.

We returned home in the late evening. Below is a photo of Connie and me on the train back to Eichstätt.

The following Monday was the first day of my classes. I have two on that day of the week: U.S. Current Events and Debate and Discussion. Current Events is made up of mostly foreign students representing Russia, Ukraine, Poland, France, and Italy. There is one German out of the 11 students. As it is a morning class, 9:30-11:00, it seems to be tough to get the class to wake up and start talking. Following the advice from the other English teachers to appear strict on the first day, I wore a tie to class. Incidentally, the Italian girl whom I briefly mentioned in my last post and who apologized when she found out I was a teacher is taking this class.

In Debate and Discussion I have 8 students, as long as none leave by next week. I've planed the semester in such a way as for me to avoid as much work as possible for the class. There will be two group debates, four students versus the other four. Each of these debates will take nearly the whole class period, and of course the students have to perform the research for the debate topic and resolution. For the rest of the semester each student will have to lead a 30-minute discussion, again performing the research on their topic themselves. The goal of the discussion is for the student to convince the rest of the class to agree to his resolution. All but one of the students is German; the exception is a girl from France. I'm fairly certain that I'm younger or the same age as all of them.

That following Tuesday was a bar crawl conducted by AK International, the international student organization. I haven't been getting to know the foreign students as well as my first time here. I know there are about five new Americans for the semester, including one from Memphis, but I do not see them often. Unfortunately, I believe that some of the foreign students who know that I am here as a Teaching Assistant see me in a different light, no matter the fact that I am the same age as them if not younger. I can understand that to a degree though. Exactly how should a student act at a party with a guy who happens to also be his teacher, or could be next semester?

On Thursday are my two other classes: American Culture and Conversation on U.S. Current Affairs. American Culture is the class that I am most looking forward to teaching. We started the class with a quiz for fun to test the students' knowledge of America and its culture. Questions included, how many states are in America and what are the four most popular sports in the U.S.? I also asked the students to draw the outline of the country, only the lower 48. Then they had to label cities and some features that I called out. A couple guys thought they were being witty when the drew arrows on their maps to a some rough squares they labeled as Iraq and Kosovo.

I also asked for some of the stereotypes and cliches that they hold of or know of for Americans. These included such things as Americans. . .

  • only eat fast food and are all over weight
  • think they live in the best country in the world
  • don't care about the rest of the world
  • all own guns
  • don't know much about the rest of the world
  • are superficial (one student wrote, "for example, 'how are you?'")
  • are hard working and enjoy challenges

As you might expect, I feel that I now have some pressure on me to reveal America in a better light to these students. To give them the benefit of the doubt though, I didn't ask for their personal stereotypes of Americans; many of them could simply have written the ones that they know exist.

Current Affairs also went well for the first day. This, like American culture, has about 15 students. The course lessons will be very similar to Current Events, but this class is meant for students from all majors, while the Current Events is only for those who study English.

Thursday night was the semester beginning party in the Theke, one of the most crowded of the year. Friday night I went to the climbing hall with Anna, Franzi's friend who was with us at the festival in Fürth.

This past Saturday I rode a train to a city called Hof, which lies in northern Bavaria. The ride took almost four hours in all, including stop overs and time needed for switching trains. Rachel, a Memphian who studied abroad in Eichstätt during my second semester here and is now also back in Germany, had a birthday party. Almost all of the Americans who were here with us and have found their way back to Germany came for the night. We made sushi rolls, caught up with each other, and also played a short limbo contest. My prize for first place was a pineapple. Below is a scene from dinner at the party.

I didn't actually see much of Hof. We spent a little time on Sunday strolling around the city center while looking for a place to eat lunch. Here's one of the views that I saw.

Matt, who is now studying in Munich, and I rode the train back together. We missed the connecting train in Nuremberg because our first train was late. After a little under an hour we caught the next south-bound ride heading to Eichstätt and Munich. On the way I started to drift off and Matt told me to go ahead and sleep; he would wake me when we reached Eichstätt.

Soon after, as the train sat at a station, I found myself prying my eyes open and drowsily asking Matt where we were. He told me that he wasn't sure, but that he believed Eichstätt was the next stop. We both gazed out the window to look for a station sign, but could see none from our perspective. The train lurched forward and then a sign came into view. On this sign were the words Eichstätt Bahnhof. I looked to Matt and laughed as he apologized over and over.

I got off a few stops and twenty minutes latter in Ingolstadt, and then rode another train back north.

Tonight I went to a juggling class, but I'm not sure if I'll return next week. Fencing is not being offered this semester.

That catches you up to today. I have nothing in plan yet for this weekend, other than some potential Halloween activities. Perhaps I'll travel to a new town in order to see some new sights. I'll try to post anything exciting that might happen, but understand if it does take some time until the next post.


Anonymous said...

I was begining to have withdrawals waiting for this post. However understand the transition from student to teacher will require more time from you ( lesson plans). However next semester should be easier. The Memphis tennis shoe was interesting. What is the company name, where are they made? The brats looked good! Can wait to try all the different types upon our return. Do you think you might be able to get some class pictures?


Nick O. said...

Vati-O: The brand and company name for the tennis shoe is Memphis. Look at the photo again. All of the yellow boxes in the background are from this company. In all there were at least a hundred shoe models from Memphis, from the kinds of shoes you see in the photo to boots and loafers. I don't know where they are made, but it must be a fairly large company.
As for class pictures, I wouldn't really feel comfortable asking my classes to pose for a picture in only the second or third weeks. Perhaps I will get some at the end of the semester.

Roderick Kimball said...


I noticed that you took a juggling class. If you're ever in New York City, check out the juggling class I teach. http://www.jugglingclasses.com

Out of curiosity, Why are you thinking of not going back to class? I'm always interested to know what makes people stop going.


Nick O. said...

Rod: Mainly it's because I didn't learn anything I didn't already know. By that I mean how to do it. During the whole class the instructor told me to keep practicing, which is not bad in itself but that is something I could at home on my own.

Anonymous said...

Nicholas, I still don't understand why you couldn't learn to juggle when you were six by just reading you "learn to juggle" book and using the bean bags it came with. It made it soooo easy. By the way if you're ever in Topeka you should try my unicyle class...www.unicycleforclowns.com.


Nick O. said...

AO: I read that book at least four times through thinking that I had missed some important sentence, but I never found any new information. And I still have the bean bags. Thanks for the unicycle offer, maybe I'll take you up on it someday.