WC Discovers Deutschland

WC Discovers Deutschland

Update: I MOVED! See ya later Thailand, thanks for the memories. Hello Deutschland; hello fall; hello new adventures!

For those of you who are just now checking in on my journey, here’s an update for you! On 1 October 2016, exactly five months after I landed on Thai soil for the beginning of the biggest change in my lifetime thus far, I packed up all my crap, boarded a plane, and landed in Frankfurt, Germany just after seven pm local time. Five months after I made the biggest change in life, again, another, possibly even bigger change came knocking on my door. Before I get into the details about how life has been in Germany for the past week, I’ll start by clarifying what led me to make this change in the first place.

It must have been around week 12-14 in the term, which would mean it was somewhere in the late July early August phase of my journey in Thailand. Halfway through the term meant two things: first, a long-awaited and well-deserved holiday weekend (I went to Ubon Ratchathani for the candle festival and beginning of Buddhist lent). Second, it was now time to start considering what would happen after the first semester finished up in the middle of September. When I set off on the adventure of a lifetime back in May, my original plans, tentative although they might have been, were to spend two semesters living and teaching in Thailand at Chomsurang Upatham School, in Ayutthaya. However, upon arrival, settling in, teaching, traveling, and thoroughly enjoying life, I began to realize that something was clearly missing. When I would go to work everyday, I was thrilled to see all my students, yet I felt unfulfilled as an ESL teacher.

Teaching English as a second language is no piece of cake. I give mad props to all those educators out there who work day in and day out with students learning English as a second language. It’s tough enough managing a class full of fifty students, never mind the fact that many of them can’t understand you when you’re talking to them. When I went to grad school to become a teacher, it was never a goal/dream of mine to develop skills and learn tricks to teach ESL. Rather I chose to pursue a route that would allow me to share my passion for social studies with future students. As such, this left a huge hole in my days teaching in Thailand as an ESL instructor. Instead of a natural excitement and exuberance for all things social studies, I had to dig deep to find enjoyment and thrill in teaching ESL. Although not a bad job to say the least, what was most difficult for me was not having a deep bag of tools and tricks to dig through during my lessons. As a result, I began to think about what else I might do in life, beginning in October 2016, after the first semester had ended and my wonderful mother-daughter vacation to Bali was over too.

My research led me to believe that what I felt was lacking in the realm of teaching ESL, I could easily find if I transitioned into a role at an international school somewhere in the world. I have been sharing my news and excitement about landing a position at the International School Neustadt, in Germany, since I got offered the job back in August. However, it has become clear to me that while I throw around the term “international school” not all those who hear it understand what that truly means. Let me take this time to clarify: there are endless different opportunities to teach ESL around the world, but your content is limited to the scope of English language development that your students retain. However, at an international school, since all instruction is taught in English, courses are run just as they would be run at a school back at home. Students take ELA, math, science, social studies, etc. Therefore, when I accepted a position at the International School Neustadt, I accepted a role as the Geography and Economics teacher for grades 9-12. Basically, I’ve come full circle and found my home again.

Now, that is not to say that I feel absolutely confident in my abilities as an economics teacher. Rather, I am quite cautious when I give myself this “title” as it is a subject that I’ve been away from since junior year of high school. That’s right, it’s been nearly ten years, since I was seventeen that I actually took part in an econ class; at least it was AP! Well, as the saying goes, I’ll just fake it till I make it I suppose…

Alas, we have once again arrived at the point in the story where I made another life-changing decision. I would decline to renew my contract with my teaching agency, HiValue, and instead I would be moving to Germany to begin a new role starting October 1st. I didn’t leave Thailand because things were going poorly, I just felt it was time for me to take a step in the direction of furthering my career as a social studies educator.

In fact, things were great in Thailand! I loved my life, I loved my friends, I loved my students. Life had taken an incredibly exciting turn when I stepped foot in Asia on May 1st. I was given endless opportunities to explore across Thailand. I saw big cities, small towns, ancient ruins, mountains in the north, and islands in the south. Every opportunity to leave Ayutthaya on the weekends was an opportunity not to be missed! Each weekend I traveled somewhere new, saw new places, met new people, explored more, and lived out my dreams. For all this, and so much more, I am forever grateful for Thailand. It was the country that got me out of my comfort zone. It was the place that I found happiness again. It was where I learned to love myself, and I can’t begin to describe in words what a blessing those five months in Thailand were to me.

Therefore, I did not close the door on the Thai chapter in my life with any animosity, disappointment, or missed opportunities left behind. In fact, I don’t really view it as closing the door on Thailand in the first place. Instead, the way I view it is┬árather than closing a door, I simply chose this time to open a new door: the doorway that led me to Deutschland. And what a wonderful doorway that has been!

I arrived in Germany around seven pm last Saturday, 1 October 2016. I flew directly from Bangkok to Frankfurt, and while I spent just over eleven hours in the air I anxiously awaited the new chapter in my adventure of life to begin. Luckily for me, timing worked out quite well as I made the transition from Thailand to Germany. When I accepted my job back in August, I explained that I felt obliged to finish out my contract till the end of the semester, 16 September. This was an important detail to note when I interviewed for the job, as the school year in Germany starts in late August, similar to the timetable back at home in the US. I am grateful that I was offered the position, despite being unavailable the first few weeks of school.

Not only this, I also shared during my interview that I had a two week vacation planned and paid for to Bali from mid-September till the end of the month (a trip I was extremely hesitant to cancel, as it was my chance to spend two uninterrupted weeks reunited with my Momma after five months!). Again, I have an endless amount of gratitude that those above me, who offered me my position, were willing to cover my classes until I arrived in Germany on October 1st, nearly six weeks after the start of the school year. The perfect planning doesn’t end there though.

Again, I arranged to arrive in Germany at the start of October. The first of the month happened to fall on a Saturday, just coincidence, therefore I wouldn’t start teaching till the following Monday, which happened to be October 3rd. To my surprise and delight, Monday 3 October, turns out to be a national holiday in Germany. German Unity Day, is celebrated on 3 October, and commemorates the anniversary of German reunification in 1990, when the goal of a united Germany that originated in the mid 19th century, was finally fulfilled again. Therefore, if you’ve been keeping score, not only was I allowed to show up to the start of a new job six weeks late, the day I was to begin teaching, the day my contract begins, happened to fall on a day off from school. Bonus!

There’s more…it just so happens that the first term of the school calendar lasts for six weeks. The end result, basically I arrived six weeks late to a job, had the first Monday off from school, went to work for four days, and now I have two weeks of paid holiday vacation leave till Monday 24 October, when the second term resumes. Pretty perfect planning (or lack-there-of depending on which way you look at it) on my part! I can only smile, laugh a little, and say how grateful I am for this new change in life.

So far, things are going splendidly here in Deutschland. I spent the first two days at the Hilton Garden Inn Frankfurt Airport Hotel. For convenience sake, I decided staying at the airport would be best when I arrived. This turned out to be true, I had a lovely time in a very nice hotel, and even made my way into the city center on Sunday for a bit of exploring around Frankfurt.

On Monday, my school had arranged a car for me, to come pick me up in Frankfurt and take me to my new home, Neustadt an der Weinstrasse. Neustadt is a town located in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of WSW Germany. It’s a small town, similar to the size of Medford actually, with the old town and surrounding neighborhoods’ population to be around 55,000. Vineyards fan out around Neustadt, a busy wine-producing town at the heart of the German Wine Route. Not only was I excited to be moving to Germany, where I’d finally have the opportunity to drink good beer again (Asian beer just doesn’t do it for me), but I even managed to be moving to the center of Germany’s wine region as well. Talk about the best of both worlds!

Unfortunately, although my timing was perfect in nearly all senses of the word, I did happen to be arriving in town during their biggest annual wine festival, that runs from 26 September-10 October each year. What this meant for me was that finding a home would prove to be much more difficult than I had hoped. Currently all of the furnished “holiday” apartments are rented out in town, therefore I’ve been living in hotels for the past nine days. Starting at the Hilton Garden Inn in Frankfurt, I moved into a lovely room at the Panorama Hotel in Neustadt (fortunately, it happens to be located just across the street from my new school), and then yesterday I moved again to Hotel Tenner, located in the hillside neighborhood of Gimmeldingen, just about a ten minute bus ride from the city center. Although each place I’ve stayed at thus far has certainly been lovely, it’s putting quite the strain on my purse strings.

Eventually, by November 1st I will be happily settled into my new home. Fortunately I have found a lovely furnished apartment to rent, but it isn’t available till next month. I’m excited to share pictures and stories from all of my adventures in Deutschland to come. This past week has been a whirlwind of a time, from settling into a new job, new town, new country, even new continent. I’ve had the chance to roam the streets of Neustadt in the evenings after work, and I know it’s going to be a lovely place to call home. I am excited to get out of town tomorrow and start exploring the rest of Germany and surrounding areas. Life is good, I am happy, my heart is full.

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