Sunday, October 7, 2012

First week of school!

So the first week of school is over and I’m exhausted! When I applied for this program, I was worried that 13 hours would leave me with a lot of free time. And it does! But I still feel like this week has been super busy.

On Monday, I went to my two secondary schools, which share a building. I had already been to my main school the week before. I am working 5 hours at my main school and had to work out the schedule with my other two schools. It was confusing trying to split the last 8 hours between my other two schools. But I got a schedule that would hopefully work out.

Tuesday was my first real day of “teaching.” I was super nervous! I had to meet my main teacher who would drive me up to the school rather than me walking like last time. I was off with one of the English teachers not long after I arrived and in a classroom! Honestly, Tuesday was a little bit of a blur, because it was my first teaching day and I was so nervous. I also am not used to no air circulation in buildings, so between the nervousness and no air, I was super sweaty.

My introduction presentation went pretty well in each class and the students did ask me questions and talked a little bit. Of course I was asked if I was married. When I told the students I wasn’t, they asked why I work a ring on my right hand. The right hand is where the wedding ring is worn in Europe, so after that incident, I took off my ring on that finger. I was also asked if I believed in aliens and what I thought of Justin Bieber. The classes were generally good, but the oldest students were a little “hormonal” as my teacher put it. The teachers told me they also liked my presentation. Sometimes TAs just get up and talk about themselves, but I tried to make it a little interactive and get the students talking. I find talking about myself a little boring after a while.

I got a ride back from one of the English teachers. She spoke to me in German and invited me to come skiing or snow shoeing at her home in Werfen, which is a little village just north of me. Of course I said yes. Living in Bischofshofen is a little isolating at times, so I'm trying to take all the opportunities I can.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I split my time between my other two schools. These schools are a mixed bag. One is a kind of technical or training school for culinary arts. The other is a pedagogy school for students learning how to be Kindergarten teachers, but is also somewhat of a Gymnasium (like my main school) so the students are able to continue on to university if they want. Gymnasiums are like American high schools and are the main track to go to university.

The students at the Kindergarten schools were chattier and more engaged than the tourism/culinary school. The former school is mainly girls and I think this adds a different dynamic to the school. They also invited me to their Maturaball, which is like prom, but is held in the Fall. So I’m going to a Maturaball this coming Saturday. I’m a little nervous about it, because I don’t know any students or teachers very well at this school. But in keeping with my promise to not turn down any invitations, I decided to go. It also shows that I’m interested in the students and the school.

Because one of my schools focuses on culinary training, I am able to eat lunch there, prepared and served by the students. It’s very cheap and a three course meal. I only ate there once this week, because my schedule was a little crazy. I can see myself eating there a lot more, as it’s very cheap and good! As one of my teachers put it, if I tried to buy all the ingredients myself to make the meal, it would be more expensive than eating at school. This week, I had Wurstsalat, Putenschnitzel with Spaghetti and Apfel im Schlafrock with cream. The first course was a sausage salad, which I was a little worried about, because I don’t associate sausage with salad, but it was surprisingly good. The second course was turkey schnitzel, which was also good. I don’t know if I will ever get sick of eating schnitzel while in Austria. And the last course was baked apple wrapped in a pastry and served with cream. I asked why it was called “Schlafrock” which means sleeping robe. I learned that this is a common term in German for a dish that is wrapped in pastry, such as apple turnover.

Overall, this week has been good, but I still feel a little awkward sitting in the teachers’ lounge and I am still feeling anxious about my German skills. I liked meeting the students and hearing what they thought about the United States, though sometimes it was a little disheartening to hear what they thought of the United States. I heard that they thought all Americans are fat and that America, especially Texas are very dangerous. Well, that’s why I’m here, to hopefully dispel some of the stereotypes they have and to show them that not all stereotypes are true. Though there have been some bumps along the way, I think this school year will be a very interesting one and well, a humbling one. It already has been! Moving to another country has been one of the most exciting things I've done and one of the hardest. 

I'll end with an image of the poster for one of my school's Maturaballs. Trachten (traditional Austrian costumes) can be worn at this Maturaball, hence the picture. I cracked up when I first saw this poster!


  1. ring on the right hand thing applies too in Indonesia.

    that must be an interesting 1st day :)
    have a great week

  2. This poster is unreal. I mean, the guy dreaming about the boobs. I get it but then again I don't get it.