TRAGIC with a hint of MAGIC
HALLOO and WILKOMMEN to probably the most alcohol heavy but also TEACHING heavy (I know I do actually work sometimes) year abroad posts thus far (excluding the Oktoberfest post of course, that’s on a whole new level).
This includes, more drinks bought by old German men, some exciting €6 pink gin from Lidl, and more horrific cover lessons. Standard.
So, fasten your seatbelts and LOS GEHTS…
A few weeks ago (as per this is a bit out of order, but bear with me) Charlie and Rachael came up to Bops (no one here calls it that except me, I’m sure it will catch on soon) to see the St Martin’s parade. I know what you are thinking, wow this sounds very cultural and wholesome, exactly like a year abroad should be !!!
In case anyone needs clarification, St Martin’s is basically a German tradition where children follow a man on a horse and parade through the towns to a bonfire, holding homemade lanterns, singing songs and eating yummy bread figures called (Wegman – ‘street man’)… a bit like a cult.
I vividly remember trudging through the rain with a soggy lantern, singing German songs with my class when I was little in Germany. AND coincidentally, actually when I was 9, I was in Boppard with my family watching their parade!
11 years later and I’m here alone on my year abroad, watching the children I teach parade past (some of them even waved at me!! Not the cool ones but still, I felt like a Boppard celebrity), helping set up the sausage and Glühwein stand (ofc), and watching the parade with my other year abroad buddies.
MADNESS (or my favourite German word of the moment; ‘WAHNSINN’).
Following the wholesomeness of the parade, we embarked on a ‘Kneipetour’ (pub crawl) around Boppard’s 3 bars, and let me tell you, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
The first one was very “gemütlich” (cosy) and not too exciting so I’m not going to talk too much about that. Moving swiftly onto the second, I had been soooo excited to try it, it’d been on my ‘Bops to do list’ (which is a real thing) since August.
It’s called the ‘Kleinste Kneipe’ (smallest bar) and let me tell you, they weren’t lying, it’s just one teeennyyy room with a small bar, and LOTS of locals. While these locals are not quite comparable to those in the King Billy (*shudders*), they were NOT exactly welcoming to three English girls coming in, and disturbing their Friday evening antics, which have probably been the same for 10000 years.
When we walked through the door, the only thing I can compare it to is when someone enters a lecture really late and decides to find themselves a seat at the front of the theatre, then asks EVERY QUESTION UNDER THE SUN. Everyone is looking. Everyone is quiet. No one wants them to be there.
We ordered our beers and with true Britishness just cracked on… despite two scary German ladies saying, “it was nice to see you, but you can leave now”, and being squashed against a wall.
Needless to say, we finished our beers pretty sharpish and left.
Then we headed to “MUSIC JOY BAR BOPPARD” which was exactly as exciting as it sounds, I’d walked past a few times and heard the music blearing AND seen it was open until 5am!!! WAHNSINN.
We headed in and took a seat, this time there were a few head turns but nothing in comparison to the Kleinste Kneipe. We ordered some beers and before we had finished them, the barman (later known to be Heinz) came straight over with some more. Not bad.
Next thing we know Heinz was behind the bar singing Happy Birthday to himself, everyone was joining in, and some random guy was walking around with a lantern singing the children’s St. Martin’s song “Ich gehe mit meiner Laterne”.
THEN Heinz came over with a bottle of Rotkäppchen and 4 glasses (like prosecco but worse, it comes from this area of Germany), plopped it all on the table, and began pouring us and himself glasses. What an absolute legend.
Heinz then said to me (in German but for the benefit of this blog I’ll translate, I know I’m so bilingual) “a present from me to you on my birthday, I’m so happy you are all here”. I’ll clarify now that Heinz had just turned 60, had long grey hair, rosy cheeks. Bless.
Don’t all ask at once, of course anyone who visits me in Bops WILL make a visit to the madness that is MUSIC JOY BAR BOPPARD <3.
This was followed by all three of us trying to silently get back into Frau Nicky’s house without waking her up. If us clambering up the stairs didn’t wake her then blowing up the electric bed almost definitely did, but luckily, she didn’t come and interrogate us (honestly sometimes I feel like I’m living with my old head mistress lol).
BUT, believe it or not, these were not the only adventures to be had in Boppard, oh no, the following weekend the lovely Ella came to visit me, and it was the bestest thing ever!!
Ella and I did German all through school together, both study at uni, AND now are both on our year abroads in Germany not toooo far away from each other!
Ella is currently doing an internship in Frankfurt (which, as I have since realised, is a much more effective use of a year abroad rather than teaching snotty children but hey there we go).
We went on a lovely walk which actually turned out to be more of a hike or ROCK CLIMB because apparently all my map reading skills have gone to shit; I totally forgot that contour lines actually do exist (did I mention I did Gold D of E… sorry Mr Walker).
DESPITE this we had a lovely time, chatted a lot (when we weren’t too out of breath) and had the bestest picnic on a little bench in the sun, talking about deep shit and how much we loved our old German teacher.
Mrs Wickes, I know you probably aren’t reading this, but we love you; from telling us to practice the subjunctive whenever we are on the toilet (low key still do this, especially if I’m drunk), to telling us “you’ve just got to get on and do it girls”, what is clear, Mrs Wickes, is that you are still our inspiration <3.
As if Ella and I started learning German together 10 years ago and now here we are, living and working in Germany… WAHNSINN !!
ANYWAY, enough of that and back to the reality of a year abroad.
After the walk Ella and I had agreed to go to a locals’ night at one of the cafes in town, mainly because Frau Nicky had invited me, and I didn’t want to let her down (again).
So, Ella, Frau Nicky, Frau Nicky’s daughter and I headed to the ‘Croatian food evening’ in town. It was just all a bit of a shambles, the shambles are nicely listed here below for you 🙂 :
- I forgot to tell the lady that Ella was vegetarian (which basically doesn’t exist in Boppard, I’m yet to meet one here) so there wasn’t much aside from cheese and rice that she could eat
- We were sat on the biggest locals table (although I did feel oddly privileged, I won’t lie)
- Everyone was speaking in such strong dialect we had to listen so closely to understand what the hell they were on about, let alone contribute to conversation.
- ALSO it was a total rip off, one plate of food and a glass of wine for €18 !!!
LUCKILY to save the evening, after the dinner we ditched Frau Nicky and her daughter, headed to a local KNEIPE (hope you’ve been keeping up with the vocab!!), ordered 2 very big glasses of wine and had a great rest of the evening. Alles gut.
*queue trying to enter Frau Nicky’s house silently a wee bit tipsy attempt 300* (I’m getting quite good at it now, recon I’d be a really good robber or spy).
The following weekend I actually managed to LEAVE Boppard (I know, it’s a rare occurrence), Zoë and Connor FLEW to Frankfurt to come and see me!!!
Dedication level 300.
In Frankfurt we met up with Ella and some of her English friends also doing internships in Frankfurt… basically, more people who have their shit together and aren’t using this year to teach children English who try and fire rubbers at you from catapults made from rulers whenever you try and write something on the board. Lol.
We had a lovely weekend in Frankfurt (well most of us did except Zoë who had a wee bit too much €6 gin from Lidl on the first night and was never seen again. RIP).
This included going out out for the first time in Germany which included lots and lots of TRAGIC but MAGIC German songs which had also featured at Oktoberfest, so I, feeling like a pro, obviously (a little too) proudly sang along to them, knowing all the words.
If I’ve learned anything from this year, it’s the lyrics to awful but brilliant songs including:
- ‘Mama Lauda’ (my personal fave)
- ‘Johnny Däpp’ (all lyrics are “Johnny Däpp” repeated about 3000 times so would recommend this one for beginners)
- ‘Helikopter 117’ (would recommend the remix version)
- ‘Saufen morgens, mittags, abends’ (“drunk mornings, middays, and evenings”, another classic)
All songs have been hyperlinked, so you can check them out!! They can also be found on a specially made playlist on my Spotify if you want to give me a follow (agwems) xo.
AND we watched the rugby in an Irish bar surrounded by so many other Brits I totally forgot I was in Germany… yep you guessed it, WAHNSINN!!
This steadily led to going out again, which, despite the hangover, I was definitely up for, this village gal doesn’t get out much !!
We manage to do a few cultural things as well, such as go to the Zoo, go up a really big tower (turns out there’s not that much to do in Frankfurt), AND see the opening of the Christmas market!! BRING ON GLÜHWEIN SEASON.
Sadly, the Glühwein did result is us getting the wrong S Bahn (well actually I got us on the wrong one) and Connor nearly missing his flight BUT all in the interest of FUN!!!
I leave you with school story of the week which this time is equally as horrendous as usual BUT also quite cute so here we go…
SO, for the last few weeks one of the English teachers has been ill so I have done a lot of lessons cover for her. To be totally honest, because we aren’t allowed to work that many hours anyway, I really don’t mind working a few extra hours EXCEPT when it’s meant to be a year 6 German lesson and I have nothing planned, nor can I speak German well enough to teach it.
So that was good.
BUT I will only tell you about the Year 5 English lesson because believe me it’s much more exciting (yes this is the Hitler salute class again lol).
SO, I had actually had time to plan a game for us all to play. I had already done it with another year 5 class and it worked quite well, so I had high hopes we might actually have a good lesson where they actually learn some English.
I had however forgotten that it would be in the last lesson on a Friday, BUT I mustered all my non-existent teacher courage and headed to their classroom.
Prior to this one of the trainee teachers had asked if she could watch my lesson (lol) because she needed to pick a class who was “motivated” to be assessed on.
Well, “motivated” is one word for them so I told her she could come along but I did tell her we were playing a game, so it wouldn’t be like a real lesson. She agreed and came with anyway.
It was Chaos. Absolute chaos.
When the kids had finished a round, they were MEANT to give it to another team to check. Any reader who are thinking of teaching on a year abroad (or in general lol), let me give you a tip: NEVER DO THIS.
Honest to God it took us 20 minutes just to get through one round because they were so bloody harsh about marking the other team’s work, honestly handwriting, spelling, even the SPACES between the words were marked as wrong.
This unsurprisingly led to quite a lot of discontentment with marks… think A level result day at school, but even more shouting and crying.
E.g. one boy underlined absolutely EVERYTHING another boy had written in his book because he said it was “TOTALLY illegible” otherwise, meanwhile the boy whose work it was almost having a breakdown because he likes his work to be really neat, and the boy who underlined everything wouldn’t apologise.
I even kept him back after the lesson to tell him to apologise and he just wouldn’t. Literally the word just wouldn’t come out of his mouth despite how hard I tried to tell him off… again my level of authority however isn’t greaaattt seeing as most of the sentences I was using to tell him off were probably in very broken German. Ffs.
If anyone could tell me what to do in such a situation that would be MUCHLY appreciated.
After all of this the trainee teacher (surprise) told me she would never pick this class to be assessed on. Lol good choice.
SO , fair to say I went home feeling fairly defeated by 10 year olds. Standard.
This story does however have a happy ending, when I next taught the class, as soon as I walked into the class room, there was a sign on the board explaining how sorry they were, in ENGLISH!!
AND 4 of them came to the front and announced to me and the class that they, as a whole class, had been badly behaved, and even told me I was a good teacher and that it was their fault for being so badly behaved.
AND gave me a ‘sorry card’, bar of chocolate (as if I need any more food given to me this year), AND some Lebkuchen wrapped up (German Christmas gingerbread).
Honestly, I was so touched I nearly cried… again, soooooo despite the horrific lesson, year 5 are once again in my good books. Chocolate is always the way.
Turns out this teaching shit isn’t easy peasy lemon squeezy, as a wise man once said, it’s actually difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.
Number of times Zoë chundered in Frankfurt: 20+
Number of times Wahnsinn has been said: 200+
Number of times “HÖR AUF” (stop that) has been shouted at 10 year olds: 2000+
Next blog post will be alllll about Christmas markets and Glühwein promiseeee.
(As long as the year 5s don’t kill me first).