Returning to Germany

Posted by Lindsey D.

My senior year of high school, I first landed in Germany, with absolutely zero knowledge of the language and only very simplistic and mainly stereotypical ideas about German culture. At that point I never could have imagined that 5 years later I would be returning to spend another full year in a country that I now consider home. This sense of belonging and the host family and friends I still have here are the main reason I chose Germany when applying to Fulbright. Since arriving here in August, I have visited both of my previous host families, neighbors, high school friends, and reunited with many of my UA German House roommates who’ve also moved here. All of them have made this transition much smoother than I could have imagined was possible.

My new coworkers have also welcomed me with open arms. I am working 12 hours a week as an English Teaching Assistant in an Oberschule – a school with students in grades 5-13. I am specifically working with 7th, 8th, and 10th graders, and my role in each class varies based on the students’ and teachers’ requests. In one class, the focus is American culture so I have been able to share my personal experiences with high school and college life, road trips, and also sadly had to burst my students’ bubble and let them know that not all Americans have met someone famous. In another class I have been working on leading discussions and activities to help students continue developing critical thinking skills and recognize and challenge stereotypes they encounter in literature.
This role has been a major shift from my positions in Miami and Tuscaloosa where I was teaching classes independently, but both of those roles helped me feel significantly more confident beginning my job here. The shared responsibility I have in classes here has given me more time to observe and learn from my German coworkers’ teaching, reflect on the differences between American and German schools, and also to dedicate more time to hobbies outside of work, including cooking and aerial silks. Throughout the rest of this year, I am looking forward to continuing to developing relationships with teachers, students, and community members, helping a couple of my students prepare for a foreign exchange program, hopefully setting up an international pen pal program, continuing to improve my German, and so much more!

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