Posted by Katie L.
Moin! This is the most common greeting in Northern Germany, where I am currently living and working as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA). Before I graduated from The University of Alabama in 2019, I majored in International Studies and German and knew I wanted to find ways to later study and/or work abroad. I had also grown up with spoken German at home, so my personal connection to the language was the deciding factor in choosing a German-speaking country as a future work/study goal. Through extracurriculars on campus, I learned about the Fulbright Grant and how I could choose to apply to study, teach, or participate in research, among other options, abroad. Because I will likely continue to teach throughout my career and hope to gain more (international) experience in the classroom, I chose the ETA track of the Fulbright application.
I was thrilled to be accepted to the grant program, and am now living in Cuxhaven, Germany and working with language faculty at the Berufsbildende Schulen Cuxhaven (or “BBS” for short). Cuxhaven is a small city on the North Sea in the state of Lower Saxony. Because of its location on the North Sea, as well as the mouth of the Elbe River, the city attracts many tourists each year. (I am definitely taking advantage of the walk to the beach!) The surrounding waters are home to the Wadden Sea (oder ,,Wattenmeer” im Deutschen), an area of shallow water with tidal flats. Walking to one of the small nearby islands during low tide is on my to-do list for this year!
As I transitioned from working in higher education (I am in the middle of an M.A. in German Studies at UA) to a secondary school, I felt fairly prepared after having taught my own language course in a previous semester at UA; however, it still took a bit of time to get used to the shift in learning goals, the different instructional styles of the teachers I support, and the German educational system in general. Fortunately, two “mentor teachers” have offered so much support during my transition to Germany and the new job.
Although it was a bit of “information-overload” during my first days, I have also fallen into a rhythm and schedule that I am really enjoying. My school is a vocational school with a variety of focuses, including traditional study as well as culinary, technical, and social work tracks of study. I am working in both German and English classrooms with teenagers and young adults. In addition to working in the classroom 3-4 days each week, I also assist with program/school-wide events such as “Europe Days” that promote global understanding and interest.
When I’m not in the school, I’m exploring more of Cuxhaven and the surrounding area, taking a class at the local “Volkshochschule,” or playing volleyball with a local club team.
I’m excited to continue to get to know my students and community!
Liebe Grüße aus Cuxhaven