Before I left I wrote down a few goals for myself for the year. Seeing as things are coming to an end now, it seems like a good time to look back and see how I've done. Keeping in mind that these are wishy-washy kind of goals I'm going to take the rose-colored-glasses aproach to evaluating myself :-P
1. Be a dedicated teacher. Stay on top of lesson plans, be creative, get to know the students and keep them interested. Impress the students and teachers with your maturity and confidence. And speak loudly enough for them to hear me!! Go above and beyond. Find a project you care about and follow through, start an after school club. Remember, teaching is the reason I'm in Germany!
Teaching has been at times rewarding, at times boring, at times really fun, and at times incredibly frustrating. I would say I've learned a lot about working in a school and being in a classroom. I would have liked to have done more, but I think it took me the first six months or so to realize what it is I could do and how to do it, before I started speaking up and feeling more comfortable asking teachers to do something with me or making my own suggestions. But in the end I hope I had some kind of impact. Getting to know students was hard at two huge schools, but I had a few classes I know well and of course my discussion groups who I had a lot of fun with. At least when I walk through the halls lots of kids say "Hallo Frau S!"
2. Utilize free time. You are in Germany for goodness sake. Get out of your little dorm room and do something cool! Visit every museum, church, park you can. Walk, hike (in the Alps!) , ride a bike, get moving! Take interesting classes, do the reading, learn something! Travel as much as possible and travel alone sometimes. Try new things, be open minded and adventureous.
Check and check. Ok, so there were a few dark cold months in there when I watched a lot of German TV, BUT overall I've done well I think. I did take classes, I did see museums, I did go to parks, walk, ride my bike and travel tons, although not so much alone, but I'm ok with that, I had great travel buddies. I've most certainly been open minded, tried new things, and had lots of adventures. yay :)
3. Meet people. Be outgoing, be confident. Make friends, but don't spend all your time with the same people, this is the perfect oportunity to meet new, different, and interesting people. Be open to anything and anyone (just don't be too naive).
Ok, so making friends in Munich was challenging, but I have a few. Some of the younger teachers last semester, Peter my language partner, of course my neighbor Katie. I've also met tons and tons of other divers and assorted people throughout the year, just not a lot that I clicked with and kept up with. But I have I think been open to meeting different types of people and people from all over the world, and I've had a number of interesting conversations and heard some new perspectives. The best friends I've made have been some of the other TA's who I've visited and traveled with, and we will definitely be friends for life. I think it's natural to gravitate toward people in a similar situation and place in life as you. I'm ok with that.
4. Speak German! Don't spend ALL of your time with English speakers! practice, read German, take classes in German, study German, write in German. German, German, German!
Umm, ok, I'm going to have to give myself a not so high mark on this one. Does German TV count? I did try to read a couple german books, and will continue to read them when I get home and actually miss german a few weeks from now. My German is a little better, especially listening comprehension. Speaking... I don't know, I'm more fluent, but my grammar is just as bad as always, I'm just better at slurring things and cutting off endings like the Bavarians do now :)
5. Budget. Plan a monthly budget and stick to it. Make some extra money to use for traveling. Cook your own meals, don't buy clothes or stuff you don't need and can't fit in your suitcases anyway! Be smart, plan ahead.
I'm pretty proud of myself on this one. I got some, but not THAT much money from my parents at the begining of the year. I did quite a bit of babysitting and funded my own travels, which is impressive I think considering the amount I've traveled and the fact that I live in the most expensive city in Germany. I've done lots of cooking and been good about avoiding too much shopping. I'm throwing out one big bag of clothes and everything is going to fit fairly easily into my suitcases (I think, I have two out of three packed so far!) I feel like I let go of a bit of my desire for more matierial possesions, and that's a good thing. AND I get my last pay check on Friday so I'm actually going to have money left over to start the summer and tide me over until I find a job!
6. Stay in touch. Send postcards, write e-mails, take pictures, write letters, make phone calls, blog blog blog. All that good stuff I can do to let you people know how much I love you even though I'm so far away.
Well, the blog is alive and well. I hope you all feel kept in touch with. I had so many visitors this year, I felt really loved, I have so many great friends all over. Everyone is so spread out now, keeping in touch will be challenge at home as well, but I don't think it will be a problem. There are some friendships that can withstand anything, and I'm lucky enough to have quite a few of those :)
I realize that these aren't the good kind of goals that you can actually measure, but at least it's something to look at if I'm ever feeling lonely, homesick, or just off track. Mostly I hope that I can have a great time, be happy, have fun, all that. And I hope that I can make it meaningful!
I've certainly had my share of loenly, homesick, and off track moments, but that was part of the challenge of living abroad. Overall I feel good about my year here. I'm so glad I made the decision to come. I have had a great time, had TONS of fun, and it's been meaningful. yay me!
Thats all, it's time to get to my last day of school now. One more long bike ride. One more round of rice krispy bars for my other conversation group :) and I get a fancy official "certificate" with a stamp and everything- how german. Then I have to finish packing and clean and do something fun with Katie! ahh! I don't really need to sleep tonight, I'm so excited and wired! Almost HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!