Yellow Rose

Well, a lot can happen in a few days. Since my last post, I’ve found somewhere to live in September, somewhere to live from October onwards, I’ve said goodbye to many people, I’ve met more people, and I’ve had my first day at school. Time for another long post me thinks.

Let’s start with living situations. The nice guys I really wanted to live with said no because I’m only here for a year (which I’ve learnt is a very common excuse here when trying to find a WG), so I had the tough decision between living with two people but quite far away from the centre of Hannover, or in a one-bedroom flat about 5 minutes walk away from Ilka’s house. After having a really long (and horrible) think about it, chatting to Gabi and Pinar, and also Skyping my mum, I decided to go for the house in Langenhagen (a part of Hannover) where I’ll be living with a Swedish guy and a German girl. I decided living by myself would not be a good choice, and I still stand firmly by my decision. The journey from the house to the school will take in total about 45 minutes, but then when I went to college at John Leggott, that took a good hour by bus, so I’m pretty used to that. I’m also thinking it will be a perfect time to maybe do some reading. I don’t read enough, even in English, so I’ll hopefully always want to have something to read (in German, of course) otherwise the journey will be pretty boring.

Goodbye, Dorotheenstraße. I hope we’ll never cross paths again.

And for now, I’m living in a WG in the part of the city called Vahrenwald. I moved in yesterday, after leaving the evil that is Dorotheenstraße. Though leaving it in a clean condition like they asked, of course. It also turns out I’ve managed to gain about 3 big bags of things after being here just 4 weeks, so 8 months’ time should be interesting when it’s time to move back to England. But let’s now worry about that one for now.

The WG (‘Wohngemeinschaft’ – meaning a flat with other people my age) I’m living in at the moment is brilliant. I’m living with a girl called Lisa, and a guy called Malte… I apologise if that’s spelt wrong! Last night, Lisa had some friends over, and we had tea (or, if you must, ‘dinner’) together which was rather tasty; rice, cheese, peas, broccoli and, possibly, quorn or something like that. Lisa’s a vegetarian. I’m not sure what it was but it tasted good! And then we played loads of board games until about one o’clock in the morning. All the games we played were strategical, rather than luck-based like good ol’ Monopoly, meaning you had to do a lot of thinking. And I’m lucky in that Lisa has actually just finished studying English at university so was able to explain all the rules to me in English (which, despite it even being in English, proved to be difficult to understand due to the rules of the various games sometimes being quite complicated!) I actually won the first game we played, which was called Small World. Beginner’s luck probably. It reminded me of Risk which I also enjoy. We played other games too which I didn’t win, one called 7 Wonders which I would say was my favourite, and we also played a game which involved cards with different kinds of beans on them, and the aim of the game was to collect as many of the same kind as possible to harvest them and earn coins, and so you had to bargain with other players – this was definitely a difficult task for my German.

I’m also living with two cats. If you know me well, I’m not a massive fan of cats. I don’t hate them, but I’d rather have a dog any day. The cats are growing on me though (yes, Phoebe, I said it!). They’re quite funny to watch sometimes, and they are mega nosey – earlier today, one of them tried to literally get into a Primark bag I have which is just full of computer stuff. I quickly pulled him out just in the slight chance he got stuck in the cables. He got over it quite quickly and toddled off on his way.

Another exciting thing I’ve done since my last post is attend the teacher training day at the school. Really, I shouldn’t have/don’t have anything to do with the school until the day after the induction course, which is next Friday. Ilka however invited me to the teacher training day so I could meet the staff, and I naturally said yes.

The school has around 2,000 students (it ranges from primary school to sixth form) and has over 300 members of staff. At first, we went in to the hall and the headteacher gave a big speech, and then went on to read a list of new colleagues. I panicked. I didn’t want to be called out because that would mean standing at the front and giving a little speech, in German. I was happy to not hear my name called out, however, and listened to the new staff members’ speeches. Then, the head teacher said he’d forgotten two things. My heart pounded again. His first thing I didn’t quite understand (I’m not quite a pro at German just yet), but then the second thing was, yes, that the school has an English language assistant. The headteacher said he’d forgotten my name, spotted me in the crowd, and pointed at me, so I stood up, and in the most awkward-tone I could probably not force out in any other situation, said “Dan… Ich bin Dan Walker!”… and I then smiled and sat back down as everyone started clapping. I received a yellow rose along with the rest of the new colleagues.

The yellow rose and the bunch of flowers I got from the school, placed safely away from the cats on a top shelf in the kitchen.

Then, after a long and tedious meeting which I’m not fully sure was about, we had the foreign languages meeting. Ilka is the head of foreign languages so was the one who led the meeting. To start with, Ilka mentioned there were new members of staff, and each was given a cup full of flowers, including me. As Ilka gave me the flowers, she looked me right in the eye and with the biggest smile said “Herzlich Wilkommen”. It was a brilliant moment, and it made me finally feel like I belong. Not that I didn’t feel like I belonged before, but this laid the foundations ready for what I’m actually here to do, and that is teach English at IGS Roderbruch.

I gave a small speech again, as everyone else did, and actually managed to make everyone laugh. This was another proud moment of mine. I met more staff members and they are all so, so friendly. I share my desk with a girl from Spain – she’s not quite an assistant like I am as she can teach her own classes and will be teaching for two years, but nevertheless she’s really lovely, and also comes from Seville which I got all excited about because it reminded me of Carmen. I showed off my ‘Where is the beer?’ in Spanish at which she chuckled. I didn’t think my Spanish would come in handy so soon – thanks, Carmen and Gabi!

Thanking Carmen and Gabi brings me actually nicely and swiftly onto my next point – pretty much everyone now has returned home after the summer academy. Irina went on Tuesday, Pinar on Thursday, and Gabi yesterday. It’s really sad to see everyone go, but I’m holding onto the hope that we’ll see each other again some day.

Oh, Starbucks, how glad I am you’re also here in Germany.

And today I managed to extend my Hannover transport card, buy my BahnCard 25 (German version of Railcard) and book my ticket to Cologne for Monday all by myself, all in German, so I treated myself to a Caramel Macchiato and Cheesecake at Starbucks. It was quite funny when I ordered, actually. Firstly, the woman said ‘hi!’ in a ‘you’ve been here a few times before!’ kind of tone. Then when I asked for what I wanted, obviously pronouncing New York Cheesecake and Caramel Macchiato in an English accent because I’m finding it difficult to pronounce English words in a German accent, she asked if I wanted to eat in or take away in English. I genuinely didn’t hear what she’d said because it was quite busy, so I said ‘Entschuldigung?’, and she looked at me weirdly, then asked me the same question but in German, which I actually heard and understood. She must have been a bit confused as to what language I actually spoke!

And the day after tomorrow (simply ‘übermorgen’ in German; yet another clever word invention by the Germans) I’m travelling to Cologne for the induction course until Thursday. I’m very excited to see people I already know, as well as meet loads of new people, all of whom are in the same boat as me. But for now, I’m having quite a lazy, stress-free weekend. And I’m definitely not complaining.


Small update: Lisa says Malte is spelt correctly, and it was tofu in the rice! 🙂