Monday, July 31, 2017

July Highs and Lows 2017

The first half of July was all about teaching and preparing lesson plans, but then the three-week summer break started. The Sheboygan-Esslingen summer exchange program got underway this month, and the weather has been fine in my opinion - not blazing hot, enough rain that we didn't have to do much watering in the garden, and pleasant much of the time. Opinions of the weather are relative, though - lots of people have been complaining.

On to the monthly re-cap.


  • My friend and Sprachpartnerin, Hedda, visited me after school one day, and we had Kaffee und Kuchen together, talking non-stop for several hours. Despite the generation separating us in age, we never seem to run out of topics!

  • meeting three times with one of my former students, who'd asked me to help him prepare for his C1 German test. After our first meeting I told him I wasn't sure there was much I could do for him, since my German is not clearly better than his! I told him I noticed he was using words and phrases I don't use - that are beyond what I have ever needed to say. We continued to meet anyway once a week, and I'm sure he did well on his test.

  • the visit of our good friend, D, a German teacher in the US. He came along on the day trip to Ulm (see below) and helped with the tour. At the end of that day he and I parted from the group and came home, where M was ready to grill for us. The next morning we took a walk through the fields near our town, and then he was off on his next adventure.
  • receiving and reading this book - Erzähl mir von Deutschland, Soumar. I contacted the writer to ask if there are plans to translate it into English, but there are not. A publisher has to be interested in it first. I sent him the link to my review, and he liked it enough to put it on his Facebook page. 


  • My cracked front crown broke off (a large corner of it), which made smiling and teaching awkward for about a week. I'd already had an appointment scheduled a week later to start the process of getting a new crown, and since I was in no pain the dentist told me to just keep the appointment. So for a week I tried not to smile. Impossible for an American.

  • A man was murdered in the middle of the day at "my" grocery store - about a mile from our house, where I shop 4-5 times per week. There was an altercation between two men, and one of them pulled out a knife and stabbed the other repeatedly. There was talk of "OMG, none of us are safe anywhere any more!" and "I'm not shopping there any more...", and of course blaming Merkel for letting refugees in (neither of the men was a refugee). I went shopping there the following afternoon when they re-opened and was not afraid. Benefits of having lived in America? We read about stuff like that happening nearly every day, though admittedly the weapon of choice is usually a gun.

  • learning of another murder that took place in Konstanz (similar to the story above, it sounds like it was an altercation between several men early in the morning at a disco). I read some comments on a Fox news site so mainly conservative Americans were commenting, and they were all similar - close the borders, Merkel is ruining Germany, "See?? #45 is right and now Germany is seeing it too!" (No, he isn't and no, we're not.)

    This one was amusing, though: "Germany still has discos?"  A responder replied, "Yeah, Europe is a little behind the times. LOL"  "Disco" is the word used in German for a place opened at night where people can drink, listen to music, and dance. Yep, we still have those here. Not in the US?

Exchange Program Activities

  • I am involved with an exchange program for 7th/8th-grade students living in my hometown, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and its sister city, Esslingen. The Americans fly here in July with a chaperone for three weeks, and then the whole group (Americans and Germans) fly together to Sheboygan for three weeks.

  • I took the train to  Esslingen to meet the group for ice cream and a Stadtführung (town tour) led by one of the German lads, who is a youth city tour guide! Usually my Schwiegermutter or I give that tour, but this was a nice change.

  • I drove the car to Esslingen another day for our evening Welcome Party and buffet and thankfully didn't encounter any serious problems during the drive.

  • Our first group day trip was to the beautiful little town of Tübingen, where I gave the Stadtführung and then released the students for lunch and free time, followed by a little more tour and a stop in the Stadtinfo for souvenirs.

Tübingen Rathaus, with our group in front
(I'm telling them some stories focusing on the Marktplatz.)
  • The next day we took the train to Ulm where I led them again through part of the town and the Münster (minster - church). I sent them on a scavenger hunt to find various figures throughout the church (the Man of Sorrows, St. Peter, St. Martin, the Spatz/sparrow that is the town mascot...), and they seemed to enjoy the activity! I thought we'd be in the church for about 15 minutes, but at 40 minutes they were still going. 
my friend showing and telling the students about Stolpersteine

  • Now the group has a week and a half to spend with their host families before they fly to Sheboygan. 

Have you had a good month?

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