Quick summary of the program I'm doing: I go around to different high schools/summer camp programs with four other people (Sasha, Yin, Michelle, & Jing) and teach supplementary class-modules.
I arrived in Frankfurt on June 17 in the morning on the same flight as Sasha. Yin flew in the day before, and we all met up around noon and then waited several hours for our train to the Netherlands (trip to visit Michelle's au pair). Once at the platform, a nice German man who overheard us talking told us our train had been cancelled, and that there was a train to Köln coming in two minutes, so we made a decision to take a train to Köln, which was in the right direction (we figured we could transfer later). Another nice german man looked up an alternate route for us on his phone, which we wrote on Sasha's hand (picture). Once we got to Köln, we saw our original train (which was not cancelled). across the platform, so we switched and everything was fantastic. On our last train (we made a few transfers), we met a sketchy Dutch boy. I say this because he bought alcohol at every stop the train made and smoked at every stop. Also because he asked the four of us where our boyfriends were and fondled my knee. I then glared at him and he said sorry, and fondled my knee some more. And then we got off the train.
We stayed in Rodin, the Netherlands, from Friday evening to Sunday morning with Michelle's au pair. On Saturday we went into Groningen, the nearest large city, and climbed up a tall church tower and also bought Dutch cookies called Stroopwafels and ate them. It's my current facebook profile picture. I would post it here but it's Michelle's picture.
On Sunday we returned to Germany, in Lübeck, the first city in our program. It's in northern Germany, is known for having 7 towers, has 3 Nobel prize winners (natives), and was a big trading city back in the day of ships and stuff. During this week we stayed with host families - my host family is awesome. They have an absolutely beautiful house with wonderful gardens (by which I mean, the garden has two cherry trees with different species of cherry grafted on to the same tree, and lots of berry bushes - wild strawberries are the bomb, by the way). They are also extremely friendly, and very cool. My host parents own a pub. My host brother plays drums and piano and wants to study medicine (which is a much more streamlined process here than in the USA). My host sister has a "Sport-Profil" and spent the last week in Austria on a school trip jumping off of cliffs, climbing mountains, jumping off of bridges, white-water rafting in storms, and other cool things like that. She might study law.
I really have a lot a lot a lot to say, but I will summarize the rest of the week:
Daytime: we split our time this week between two schools; one that my host student attends (OZD) and one about a half-hour away (OGT). Both are Gymnasiums (the college-prep track in the German education system). This week, I taught modules on Special Relativity, Gyroscopes, RLC circuits, and Physics of Flight (applications to course 16). I think all of it generally went well, although I did a lot of adjusting - language is a big obstacle, because students simply find it harder to ask questions in English (we teach in English). I think my favorite module this week was Special Relativity; it really went extraordinarily well, and the students were fantastic. A few came up to me after class to tell me that they felt that they really understood the ideas I was trying to convey if not the detailed math, which is exactly what I was going for. One girl said "I may not be able to recreate everything you just did, but I feel like I have a vision of how it works, so thank you so much." Best compliment ever. [Picture: we taught our hosts the awkward turtle.]
I spent most of my time at OZD with the Science-profile kids (picture), and so did the rest of us, so we got to know them decently well. They taught us a card game called "Schummeln" which in means "Cheating" but they translate it to mean "Screw over your neighbor" (they used a stronger word). I'm really going to miss these guys a lot; they were absolutely fantastic as students and super friendly (and also most of them are older than me).
Evenings: The schools planned some events for us. On Tuesday we had a BBQ at a teacher's house, and on Wednesday we went to Hamburg to go to DESY (the German accelerator thing; they don't actually have an operating particle accelerator anymore but they have an electron laser and a CMS control room). On Thursday we had a boat cruise around the city (the inner city is an island) and on Friday we went to Kiel, a town one hour away for a sailing festival. This was a ridiculous amount of fun and I got to eat good seafood (picture is me and Torben, Yin's host student, with fish sandwiches) and have fun with the team and it was great. We got back around 1AM after dancing for an hour to loud English music that all the Germans knew the words to (but we had never heard the songs before). Ah well.
Other quick notes:
- Germans think you can survive on bread and cheese/butter/margarine/sausage.
- the German terms for a lot of physics things are very different from the English ones. This was a source of confusion in some of my lessons.
- I learned quickly that I had been (unintentionally) assuming that the students' high school background = my high school background. False. I quickly adjusted to simplifying things from what I had initially planned. For example, most seniors do not have multivariable, and technically, high school physics is not = to AP.
- We have a knack for meeting very friendly (not necessarily sketchy but maybe borderline) strangers. And old man we met today was amazed at my German accent, spent a good 15 minutes explaining to me that this meant that I had started German before going through puberty, and kept grabbing my elbow. But he was old, so it was like... acceptable.
- I loved my first week and will miss this place. We leave for Salem tomorrow evening (a new school.)