Saturday, June 30, 2007

Football and Parties

So, I just found out that this guy I grew up with, David Edgar, is now a football star in England. Crazy. Interesting at what happens down the road of time, eh? He’s one of the stars now of the Canadian U-20 football club. Hopefully, when soccer finally becomes popular in Canada he will come and take a place at my beloved Toronto FC. One day.

Yesterday, a party was held for us trainees in Altes Lager. You could sort of call it our going away party. All of the people who we work with attended and lots of cake was served. I had a blast, but it was sad to be celebrating the ending of our time here.

We ended up getting a bunch of really nice gifts from everyone. We received a large number of Ritter Sport chocolate bars, with many different flavours to choose from, a book of nice photos about Berlin, a Teltow-Fäming t-shirt, and a bunch of Jüterbog paraphernalia. All of these things are very much appreciated.

This now means I have one week left of work. I feel that the work part is mostly over and that this coming week will be more of a time of small good-bye parties. On Thursday I am making ‘American Style’ pizza with the kids, so I’m looking forward to that. It’ll be messy, but fun. I’ll try and get pictures on here if I can.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

gück mal! Ich habe scharfe zähne!

So, here is another blog post; my third in three weeks. Hard to believe I know, but I really have nothing better to do that find ways to waste time and this provides an excellent opportunity to do just that.

Today, Tuesday, meant that I would find myself getting up at 7am to head to the Kita Neidergörsdorf. This is one of my more favourite work places, even if the kids are a bit wild. There is this one kid who is absolutely nuts, her name is Elisa. She is 3 years old and the most Aryan child I have yet to come across. She is so white that I sometimes have to wear sunglasses if we are playing in the sun. I’m being serious.

As I was pushing her on the swings today, she was telling me her big plans to run away from home, just for the day though, and move into the Kindergarten. She had it all worked out; the sleeping bag by her bed, the route to the Kindergarten drawn on a map (I have seen it and it resembles a thorn bush more than a map), and the food...well, she was going to just eat here at the Kindergarten. She was even kind enough to invite me along, but I said that Keith (they all know of him) would miss me too much. She replied by saying that she has very sharp teeth, and proved it by jumping off the swing and viciously ending the life of a tiny flower by gnashing it to bits. The greatest mystery in the universe is the mind of a 3 year-old.

Yesterday was my last lesson at Kita Lichterfelde. It caught me off guard because I didn’t realize that it was my last time there. I figured that I have another lesson in July, but apparently I don’t. It was a very melancholy moment as I was happy, but one of my kids started crying because I wouldn’t see them again. It was my first real warning shot that my work is actually at an end. I realize that I keep on repeating the whole ‘oh my! I’m leaving soon’ theme but that’s because it is such a weird feeling that I can’t rightly describe. After living here for so long, leaving seems almost impossible. I really think you can only experience what I’m feeling right now. You can’t have someone describe it. Isn’t that how life always is though? You can’t ever rightly describe it, you have to live it.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Last real week of work...maybe...ja..nein...doch

Ah, Sunday; the perfect day of tranquillity and peace. Today Keith and I had a day of relaxation as we ended up spending a large part of the day with the pastor and his wife at their house. This means that we were treated to lunch and then later on in the evening a round of Kaffe und Küchen and board games. Keith and I ended up winning at one time or another. We rule.

Tomorrow I start my last real week of teaching English. Praise the good lord almighty! My vacation days are about this close: (----> <-----). Exciting, non? Trés. Technically, I have two weeks left, but I am writing the second week off due to good-bye parties and the like. I will never have to sing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ ever again! It’s not that I don’t like doing these lessons, its just I don’t care to do the same thing 10 times in a week.

Everyday now I am reminded that soon enough I will be trying to reengage myself into Canadian society. Finding a job, looking at schools, trying to fit back into an old social life, these are all things that constantly gnaw on my mind. Reintegration is always hard once one has been away from their native culture.

In more than one way I am very scared to go back to my old life. There are a lot of things that I’m not looking forward to dealing with, but such is life. I’d have to deal with most of these issues in Germany sooner or later anyways. That little voice in the back of my head is now asking those questions that I don’t want to say out loud; am I going to fit back in or will I be bitter at coming home to a place that has changed without me? That is a scary prospect to deal with all of that change.

I’ve become so accustomed to my life here I sometimes don’t even realize how different North America is. I recently ran into a group of American students who were very green in the ways of the world, or so I gathered. They were very excited about staying in Germany for a month and some of them had serious doubts about whether they’d be able to make it through emotionally unscathed. I pompously discarded their notions of worry; living is Germany is simple.

After talking about it later with Keith, I suddenly awoke to the fact that living here was not easy at all. It was hard. It was really hard. I’d simply forgot what it was like to have intense culture shock. I’d forgotten what it was like to not speak the language, not be used to the change in food or weather or cultural attitudes. I think back to my first weeks in Germany and just trying to communicate with people would a task I thought would be insurmountable.

What I’m asking myself right now is, ‘will you be able to live in Canada? Or will you find yourself back at square one: in a culture that you don’t understand anymore and you’ve forgot how to speak the cultural language because you now speak a new dialect?’

There are few people in this world who speak the dialect of true multiculturalism. When you find someone who speaks it fluently, it is like finding a long lost family member. You accept them at once and trade stories about other people in the Family. There is a certain amount of trust because there is an instant understanding between these people.

I look back into my old life and see that there are few people who I know who can speak this language. Will I starve for true conversation? Will my friends find my dialect too hard to unravel? These are questions that are going through my mind at the moment.

We’ll see how things turn out. I’ve still got a 1 ½ months though, so hopefully that will give me some time to prepare myself!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Some pictures of my German life...

A very odd feeling has come over me now that I have only two weeks of work left. That is still a bit of time, but in my work terms that means that I get to see each class two more times and then we're finished. Depending on which class we are talking about my feelings at the moment range from very sad to numbing joy.

I have a grand total of 6 weeks left until I'm at home. The reasons I want to be home all seem to be silly ones though. Whenever people ask me the, 'what's the first thing I'm going to do when I get home' question, I answer with, 'Go out and buy a box of Honey Nut Cheerios! I mean... go see my family?'.

Things have been very low-key lately. I seem to be just wasting time because I don't really feel that I have too much to acomplish other than enjoy all of my free time and be excited about my vacation plans that are coming up next month. We're also having our 'Closing party' next Friday, so that should be interesting.


My favourtie class at Kindergarten Langenlipsdorf

Keith and I walking in downtown Jüterbog

Monday, June 18, 2007

Geißen

So yesterday I returned home from my first trip to Geißen in Hesen. We had a trainee party there and I got to tell you, it was a blast and then some.

My friend Rachel came to visit us on last Thursday and after a delicious meal of sushi and beers in Berlin we were off again to Altes Lager. Rachel, Keith and myself are currently in the process of making a movie in which killer ‘moon cows’ are trying to destroy the population of unicorns...and people....and dogs. It is a long and complicated story that usually involves a very bored altes lager trainee and a camera of some sort. Anyways, we got a lot of filming done and I am very excited to see the end result at the Intermenno End Conference talent show.

After work on Friday, we all hoped on the train to Geißen and had a jolly 7 hour train ride. Oh sorry, did I say jolly? I meant ghastly, my bad. 7 hours on a high speed vehicle sounds like fun to most North Americans, but I’d have to say it is over-rated. I shouldn’t be so bad though, we did have some hilarious conversations. Friends help on these trips.

Upon arrival we were met by some very friendly trainees sitting in chairs in the back of a large van. There also may or may not have been some sort of beer involved. Just kidding, it was just water.

The trainee who lives there, John, then drove us home and we had a little trainee party before going to some very awesome bowling lanes. I didn’t have a super game, but I did okay. Eric, I will find some way to win one of these days.

The next day we went into the very lovely city of Geißen and had a ball running around with like chickens with our heads cut off. No wonder Europeans don’t like us, we’re so freaking loud all the time. It was a beautiful day filled with a little football, a pick-nick under cherry trees and a very hungry puppy that looked quite sad as it was dragged away from our food.

That night John made us hamburgers that were really, really good and we had mojitos and sat outside and enjoyed the night. It, unfortunately, started to rain so we moved the party back inside and eventually went out dancing. Really good music and a lot of fun, even though I left early with another friend. We’re really more pub people than club people. Go figure.

This is my last adventure until I leave Altes Lager in one month. Crazy, but I had a lot of fun and it was well worth the weeks of anticipation. Now all I have to do it wait for the End Conference

Sunday, June 10, 2007

It is now the 10th of June. One has to ask the question, ‘Where has all of the time gone?’ I can hardly believe that it has been 10 months already. Looking back I have done so much, and I find it hard to believe that it is all coming to a close. While two months is still a long time, life in Altes Lager seems to make it fly by. That or makes it crawl to a stand still.
As my across-the-hall mate Keith said that he is in between wanting to leave now and wanting to stay. I feel the exact same way.
On one hand, going back to life in Canada will be nice, but then I have to start intergrading myself back into the real world. I already know from previous experiences that trying to do that will be a somewhat painful experience, it always is.
Being in Europe means that I have total freedom, for the most part, to do what I want. I lead a life here in which I am ultimately accountable to only myself and I have very, very few responsibilities. I say that I maybe do real ‘work’ for about 18 hours a week. I don’t have to work about paying bills or where I am going to get money for entertainment. The life of a trainee is very nice.
It does have its drawbacks though, especially since I’ve been here in AL for 2 terms, as opposed to 1. We exhausted all of the free activities some time ago, really to the point that I could most likely walk through town/the local hiking trails/tierparks with a blindfold! For the most part though I’ve managed to do and see a lot of interesting things while living in AL, so I’m more happy than disappointed in the end.
The one thing that helps with boredom is taking a trip. Just when I think I can’t stay in AL a moment longer, I usually end up on a train. Travelling releases a lot of the stress I build up and reminds me how fortunate I am to be here in Germany. I travel, get tired and then get really happy to end back in my own room.
The next travel opportunity is another trainee party; this time being hosted by the Gießen trainee. Gießen is a town close to Frankfurt am Main for those of you who don’t have a knowledge of placement towns and German cities. I am very excited to get back on the road and hang-out with my friends. This will be my last major trip before I leave A.L. for good.
It is nuts just even thinking about that. While we don’t know exactly when our work here ends, we are pretty sure that we are finished around the 12th of July. That means I only have 4 more English classes to make! Woohoo! We are planning on spending the rest of our time travelling before finally heading back to Mennorode in the Netherlands for the Intermenno End Conference.