Friday, July 11, 2014

Reflections on the First Few Course Days

LEIPZIG- So it’s been a busy couple of days to say the least. Every morning, myself and the other teacher that is staying in the same apartment with me (more on her later) get up and eat a nice simple “German” breakfast….bread with meat and cheese and also toast. At about 8:30 we leave the apartment and make the 20 minute walk to the University institute that is hosting our summer course, which is about a block away from the Hauptbahnhof in the center of the city. The weather has been nice so far, with a couple of warm, sunny days and a couple of days that have been overcast and a little rainy. It has yet to rain all day though. Usually, the rain will come for a little bit, then clear off, and then maybe come again, and then it’ll stay overcast for the rest of the day. And the temperature is perfect, rain or shine. So much better than the temperature we have back in Oklahoma during this time of the year.
There are, as I believe I mentioned before, 17 teachers attending this program. We come from all over the United States. There’s a guy from Alaska, three or four from Michigan, one lady from Boston, another from Virginia, one guy from New York and another from Mississippi, just to name a few places (read: I can’t currently recall the rest).  Several are in their mid-to-late twenties like me, and several more are in their thirties, and there are a few that are in their forties and fifties. As came as no big surprise to me, I’m the least fluent in the language. And at times it can be frustrating for me…mainly I don’t want to appear lost or look like I don’t know what’s being said. But everyone has been really great about it, and when I get lost I can turn to a neighbor for help. This is also where my roommate, Nancy, has been a God-send. She’s been teaching German for years and is very fluent and has been able to help me with the course work and also when we are talking with our landlady/host mother (well…host grandmother). And even though I have my ups and downs where one hour I feel like I’m able to pay attention and contribute and the next I feel pretty lost, I have already notices my language skills improving, which is reassuring.

On the first day of the course, after the expected “get to know you” activities and an overview of the first week (which is almost over already, which I can hardly believe!), we went to lunch in a really cool, historic Beirkeller/ Keller, which is basically a nice restaurant that’s in the basement of another building, often times under the old city hall of the town but in this case under a commercial complex in the old part of the city right on the main Markt Platz. The food was good, although I’ll admit I didn’t eat too much of the red cabbage…It’s not my favorite, that or sauerkraut. It was a really neat place though, and a cool atmosphere, and historic as well. During the 1700s, the famous German author Goethe studied in Leipzig and he frequented the original Keller, which we were actually able to go see after our lunch was over.

After the visit to the Keller, we went in four different groups that had been pre-assigned that morning in class and each went and explored a different quarter of the city. The area that my group went, known as Südvorstadt, was really cool. It has a lot of artists living in the area, and also a lot of students who attend Leipzig University. There were many cafes and pubs and eclectic shops along the way. The next day, each group got to present what they found to the whole class, and we learned a lot about some of the more famous quarters of Leipzig

The last several days we have had several workshops/lectures over pronunciation, grammar, and other related issues. In the evenings I’ve gone with several others and done more exploring. Leipzig is such a cool city to live in, with many people from many different walks of life to meet or watch. We’ve found cool places to hang out and relax, and some nice places to eat in the evenings.

More to come in the coming days. Hope you’re enjoying these little snippets about what’s going on here on my little Adventure in Leipzig.

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