Tag Archives: Germany

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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Teaching in Schleswig-Holstein

Posted by Michael F.

As an undergraduate at UA, I was lucky enough to go through the German program for four years. During freshman year, our professors introduced us to the Fulbright program and I thought to myself, “That would be a lot of fun, but there’s no way that I could be qualified for that.” After a few years of learning the language and falling in love with German literature/culture, the opportunity presented itself to apply for an ETA position. This time my attitude was much different and I decided to go through the application process. There were a few positions in Europe that would have been a great experience but going to Germany would also help me continue to learn the language. Almost one year after starting the application process, I was fortunate enough to be chosen as an ETA in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

As an ETA, I began by sharing about my life in Alabama and the U.S. with students from grades 8-12. Similarly, students shared things about their life in Germany with me. Many of the teachers welcome the assistance of a native English speaker and allow me to help their students prepare for their written and speaking exams. Some of the ways I do this are through small group conversations on a specific topic, “Speed Dating” activities, and mock interviews for students who will soon be applying for jobs. Outside of classes, a few of the English teachers and myself hold an English club. In this club we watch popular American films that highlight history and culture. We play games like paper football to teach about the sport. We even cook food that is common in the U.S.

First and foremost, the faculty within the German program prepared me for this experience by teaching me the language and sharing a few things to add to my interest in German life. While most Germans speak English to some capacity, knowing how to communicate in German helps break down some of the initial barriers that may be placed between an ETA and students, and between an American and Germans in general. Furthermore, my time spent teaching guitar and coaching MMA has helped tremendously in preparing me for being an ETA and navigating everyday life in Germany. As a guitar instructor, I learned how to make teaching/learning fun and found a way to be outgoing as a teacher. Coaching MMA gave me the confidence to be outgoing in daily life while also allowing me to find an amazing community within a gym here in Germany. The overall feeling that I have had since making it here has been gratitude. From coworkers and friends, I have felt overwhelmingly welcomed and am beyond thankful for this opportunity.

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Moin from Cuxhaven

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

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