Sunday, December 1, 2013

Literally 1 day shy of my visa running out....

I GOT A JOB!!!!!!!

Hi All,
So that is the big, incredibly awesome news I have to share.  Yes, literally the day before my visa was set to expire, I was offered a job.  Talk about being down to the wire!!  And to be exact, I had two job offers!

One was at a small bilingual nursery (Spanish-English).  Only three other teachers worked there and around 12 kids attended.  The age group was around 1-2 years of age.  I really liked this nursery.  I liked the small team, it had a cozy, intimate feeling to it, and I liked the location.  However they offered me only 20 hours per week and not great pay (since the amount of taxes that is taken out of paychecks here in Germany is like a bomb to one's income).

Then the very next day, I was offered a job at the other school where I had an interview.  This school is much larger, around 40 teachers I believe.  Each class is around 15 children and the ages range from 1 year olds in the nursery to 6 year olds in the preschool classes.  This school felt a little bit larger to me, a little less personal and a bit colder.  But I much prefer this age range of children.  It will not just be changing dirty diapers and chasing crawling toddlers around.  Instead, at this school, I can actually interact with the children.

I accepted the job at the second school!  The pay is actually quite good, more then I thought I would be getting, so that was a superb surprise.  I will be working 40 hours per week, Monday through Friday, 8am-4:30pm regularly, however two evenings per week we have to work a "late shift" which will either end at: 5pm, 5:30pm or 7pm, depending on which late shift we get.  We also receive 27 days of vacation per year.  Insane.  That would be unheard of starting out a new job in the US, yet that is the standard over here (like the two weeks we get back in the US).

Therefore, I am feeling pretty relieved and psyched about all of this!!!

I will be working alongside another female teacher.  She and I will be a team unit within this one classroom together, the same classroom every day of 5/6 year olds.  She is the German teacher and I am the English teacher.  The day is filled with a variety of activities, from a dance lesson, to free play, breakfast, lunch, recess, quiet time, the kids receive a German lesson (which my co-teacher will give) and then they will receive an English lesson (which I will be responsible for giving, on any topic of my choice).  That is basically the gist of it!

I am set to start my new job on Monday, December 16 (assuming my work permit is cleared by then)!!!  I will work that week, then I get two weeks off and will resume in the first week of January to start work regularly.

In other news, this past Tuesday evening was Christian's 27th birthday.  His family asked me to somehow get him to Darmstadt (the town that is about 20 minutes from his home in Reinheim) so we could meet as a surprise at the Christmas markets.  Germany is known for their Christmas Markets.  They are supposed to be the best in the world actually.  During the month of December, there are Christmas markets set up in the main squares of towns all throughout Germany.
Therefore, I used my best convincing skills ;-) and got Christian to come meet me at 7pm after we both got out of work that evening in the main square within Darmstadt.
His family arrived early.  So I stood around little tables underneath the awnings of a drink stall with all of them, chatting and laughing.  It was me, his mother, his father, his brother and his sister (his sister I was meeting for the first time this evening!).  As Christian walked up, he had the biggest smile on his face which then turned into giggles as he approached us looking so happy.
The night was frigid, so chilly.  However we all huddled underneath a stall and drank gluhwein (here is a little excerpt I got offline about the drink:

Glühwein (roughly, "glow-wine," from the hot irons once used for mulling) is popular in German-speaking countries and in the region of Alsace in France. It is a traditional beverage that is offered during the Christmas holidays. The oldest documented Glühwein tankard is attributed to Count John IV ofKatzenelnbogen, a German nobleman who was the first grower of Riesling grapes. This gold-plated lockable silver tankard is dated to c. 1420.
Glühwein is usually prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, clovesstar aniseed, citrus, sugar and at times vanilla pods. It is sometimes drunk mit Schuss (with a shot), which means that rum or some other liquor has been added. Fruit wines, such as blueberry wine and cherry wine, are occasionally used instead of grape wine in some parts of Germany. There is also a variation of Glühwein which is made with white wine. However, white Glühwein is less popular than its red counterpart).
We enjoyed spicy sausages (yes I tried a bite, despite that I do not generally like sausage, and it was pretty good actually), we walked inside the mall for some warmth briefly where we bought lottery tickets (Christian loves these) and gave him a few gifts.  It was really fun.  I really enjoyed watching him with his brother and sister.  Lots of smiles, poking fun and giggles were exchanged.  And I liked seeing the five of them together, just him with his parents and siblings.  I felt blessed to be able to be there for this intimate celebration with him and his family.  I really loved it.

On Friday, November 29 of this past weekend, I met a new potential friend in Frankfurt after work.  I met him through the German-English conversation group I have been attending on Tuesday nights.  He is from Prague actually and moved here as his girlfriend lives in Germany.  He and I drank some Gluhwein and then walked around the Christmas market in Frankfurt.  We chatted about the feeling of living in a new city and not really having anyone yet (how that's a bit tough), we talked about our respective love of Harry Potter, our hobbies, etc.  It was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed hanging out with him and will hopefully do it again!

And now, as the last part of today's blog entry; I would like to post this fun article I found online about what the experience of living abroad can be like.  I like it a lot.  I have found much of it to be true thus far.  Except I personally have not let go of any of my personal friendships or other relationships back home.  Because the difference is, this move is temporary for me.  I will be returning :-) and want to continue those relationships in the meantime so we can pick up where we left off when I return.

10 Things About Living Abroad: No Turning Back

Moving around the world teaches you many things. It isn’t for everyone. It takes a special type of person to be able to do what we do. Packing up all your things into two (or five ;-)) carry-on bags and two checked pieces of luggage is struggles in itself, and to generalize, imagine being a woman! I could only bring 10 pairs of shoes! Your mother will go through that luggage and make you narrow it down to seven cardigans instead of 17 and she will remind you that those shorts still don’t fit and haven’t fit for 3 years, so you should probably just let them go.  Along with letting those shorts go, you are also letting go of friendships, relationships, comfort.
And 10 more things about living abroad:
1. Freedom. A new sense of freedom. Freedom to do and go as I please. Freedom to travel. Freedom to make choices without a safety net. Freedom to be yourself.
2. Watching your life at home pass by. Birthdays come and go. Marriages. Deaths. Life doesn't stop and wait for you.
3. Math skills strengthen as you are always trying to convert your local currency to your home country. You know it is even better when you convert your new currency to your previous country. Everything is still in pesos for me.
4. Communication. Responding to someone in any language but the language they are speaking.
5. Stories. The stories you will have to tell for the rest of your life are so unbelievable most people will think you are exaggerating. Hospitals. Airports. Dentists. You try getting your point across in any means possible. And do I mean ANY means possible.
6. You realize little holidays and moments you didn’t think mattered are the ones that make you the most homesick.
7. Growth. As much as you hate to admit it with each move you grow. You learn the best ways to pack, meet new friends, get around, and survive.
8. Adrenaline. Those thrill seekers jumping off canyons and out of airplanes have nothing compared to boarding a plane and traveling to an unknown place. Not knowing anyone. Not knowing your surroundings. Not knowing the language. Now that is a real adrenaline rush.
9. Patience. Realizing no one understands you. No one cares. Ordering food, getting in a taxi and normal every day tasks take patience. Nothing is ever easy. A 10-minute task at home will take you 60 minutes. Accept it.
10. Having to say hello for the first time and having to say goodbye for the final time. Not many people get to experience this.  This could quite possibly be the hardest and most dreaded part of my life.
Start slow, go to a new place. Alone. Go to a city by yourself. Go on a vacation, alone. Throw yourself out there. Your own sink or swim. When you begin to panic and want to go home, that is when your fight or flight will kick in. That true inner strength will shine through. You will fight it out and you will thank yourself later. I know I did.

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