Tuesday, 21 January 2014

A Spicey Life

Before I begin I would like to share something that wowed me earlier on this week. http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/198876/rare-color-film-shows-what-london-looked-like-in-1927/. This video is shot by Claude-Friese Greene in 1927 and is some of the first ever colour film footage. It's a pretty great way to spend five minutes if you have the time, and are interested in what London looks like in 1927. I was entranced not only by the scenery and the vintage colour quality, but also by the people, those people who had got up that morning and had no idea that a few seconds of their lives were to be captured in this historical moment, this fascinating time-capsule for people to enjoy evermore. But if you find that amazing, it's also worth checking out this project: http://vimeo.com/81368735 shot by Simon Smith. He has recreated, almost exactly, the footage from Greene and so we are presented with a perfect visual representation of the extent to which modern life has shaped our capital city, which, actually, when you see the video, is not very much at all.

But, from time-travelling to real travelling, I have had quite an eventful second week back. It started firstly by being told I was to have a reporter from the local Saechsische Zeitung (Saxon Newspaper) visit one of my lessons and then interview me. You can maybe imagine what such news did to my state of mind, and what a nervous wreck I was when I turned up to school on Monday! I was not even sure which language I was going to be interviewed in (of course, I strongly suspected German but you can never be sure...) and lo and behold, it was. The lesson was a little unnerving with a camera man wandering around photographing our faces at close range, and it made trying to pull off the relaxed but great and inspirational teacher vibe I was going for that little bit harder. However, success was had. An interview was conducted. German questions asked, German answers given. And the world kept spinning. Then two days later I was minding my own business in the staffroom, and unbeknownst to me I had become a local celebrity (I jest of course, but the staff were very excited). I must have shaken about 100 hands and received countless congratulatory greetings for an article I hadn't even seen yet. So I bought the paper, but I'm ashamed to say I still need to read it properly. It's gonna take a little time and mental effort on my part to get more than the main jist. And if you've ever wondered what I might look like when I'm desperately trying to look professional in the face of adversity, you're in luck. This is the photo that made the cut:

Another exciting thing that happened to me this week (Bautzen is definitely the place to be!) is that I tagged along on a school trip to the local theatre to see Anne Frank. It was an excellent production. I always hope it's going to end differently every time I see an adaptation, just like I do with Titanic. But of course it never does. The actors were all older pupils from my Gymnasium (and in case you haven't read my previous blog posts and don't speak any German, I mean the Grammar School I work at, not my local fitness centre, wherever that is...) and so I did feel a little sense of pride.

Also paid another little visit to Dresden this weekend, where Ellie and I went out for our traditional cocktails and also watched films, namely Spiceworld and The Lizzie McGuire Movie. I'm not even ashamed.

And so, in the words of Jim Carrey, in case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Post-Christmas Gloom

Christmas craziness over, my feet are now safely planted back on German soil. One week back and being back home in England already seems like decades ago. I felt a little bit like Taz-mania whilst I was there. With only two short weeks I had to fit in last minute Christmas preparations, Christmas day, meeting up with as many of my friends as I could possibly cram in, having my whole extended family come to stay (but granted, it is not exactly huge. In fact, I could well win awards for the smallest extended family in the history of time), working at Kempton racecourse, and going to London for the New Year (great fun, but resulted in a lost phone, an angry parent, and memory loss). Add to all this the stress of two very very long journeys which included uncomfortable night trains, choppy seas, delayed ferries, and exceedingly lengthy coach drives and you can understand why I do sort of feel like I've been punched in the head (I know, bring out the violins, right?). But to all of you doing, about to do, or thinking of doing a year abroad, either as part of your studies, gap year, or post-graduation year, be prepared for the shorter holidays. University really spoils us. I used to have a drawn-out, month-long, leisurely Christmas break, and so this year I realised how much I failed to appreciate them. What a fool!

But now, to settle back into being a 'teacher' again. Having only been to a week's worth of lessons so far, there is not really much extra to report so far. I did have to plan and implement my own lesson for the second time, and it really wasn't as scary as it seemed the first time around. I guess it's just a case of ripping off the plaster. I've actually quite enjoyed putting my own lessons together, and for anyone who happens to be about to do a scheme with the British Council like I am doing, or anything of a similar ilk, I recommend the following book: http://www.lazyteacher.co.uk/about_book.html. It is such an easy-read, and absolutely packed full of ideas on how to make your lessons more interesting. It is especially useful for anyone without prior teaching training (like me) who has no idea where to start, but I can imagine also useful for anyone already in the teaching profession too. It's been more valuable to me than a golden palace full of gold coins and platinum rings.

Til next time. Until then, here's a video of a cute baby to help banish those January blues: