Off to the Hof!

Jan. 9th-11th

Hallo!

I’d like to start off today, by explaining the difference between the Schloss and the Hof. The Schloss, or castle, was built in the 1770s as a gift for Princess Louise of Denmark (hence the name Louisenlund), later it was remodeled to look as it does now (see below). It sits right next to the Schlei, an inlet of the Baltic Sea. In 1949, Friedrich Wilhelm turned the building and grounds surrounding it into a boarding school, which then became part of the Roundsquare Conference of schools (yeah, I know, round square?), which is one of the most prestigious organizations of boarding schools in the world. Today, the Schloss serves as the upper school, housing grades 9 to 13. The Hof, used to be an old summer house and farm, now it has been turned into the lower school and is home to grades 5-8. It sits atop a very large hill and looks down on the Schloss and the Schlei.

Louisenlund Schloss

Louisenlund Schloss

So now that you have a bit of background, I’ll proceed with the events of Wednesday, which meant a trip to the Hof. After waking up early, I made the trek up the (rather obnoxiously) steep hill to the school, and as it was raining, I arrived totally soaked. My first stop of the day was Frau Bahr’s 6th grade German class. As you might imagine, this class was a bit more beneficial to me than chemistry auf deutsch, because they were actually going over things that were helpful for my German skills, such as determining the subject, the accusative or dative objects, and adjectives in German sentences. It was a lot of fun being in class with the younger kids and I definitely enjoyed being able to participate in the activities.

The top of the Hill up to the Hof, the steep part is behind me!

The top of the Hill up to the Hof, the steep part is behind me!

After German, I met with Frau Donovan, who is the head of the lower school as well as an English teacher. We decided that my talents would be best put to use on the Hof (they always say on the Hof, not at the Hof) because I would be able to contribute more in English classes and understand more in German classes. Therefore, to save me from having to hike up the hill everyday, she decided to get me a room on the Hof. So before I knew it, I had returned to my room and was throwing everything I’d brought back into my suitcase and moving! Hence the reason I no longer care if the janitors use my room as their own personal Panama Canal. Now I have a new room on the Hof in a building called the Scheune. The size is much smaller, but I prefer it, as I feel like I’m actually in a bedroom rather than in a classroom with a bed in it.

My new room!

My new room!

So after doing all that within two hours it was back to the classroom and my first big challenge! Frau Donovan had a meeting come up last minute so she handed me a folder with some worksheets in it and told me to go teach her 5th graders. Talk about being thrown it at the deep end! Fortunately for me her 5th grade English class consisted of only five boys, but let me tell you, five or twenty-five, is a lot when you’re new to teaching, not to mention speaking German. I certainly had my work cut out for me when one of the boys refused to do his work, telling me he couldn’t because he had chewing gum stuck in his Unterhose (underpants). What am I supposed to say to that? However, the whole experience ended up being a good way to force me to speak German, seeing as how the boys only understood very simple English.

I had the afternoon off, but was back to work helping out with English homework at 5:30, when the kids had their study hours. This ended up being good practice for me as well, because a couple of boys were going over English vocab, so while they practiced their English, I was able to learn some new German words. It was a little discouraging when I tried to pronounce some of the German words so they could tell me the English equivalent and the boys just stared back at me, having not understood my German pronunciation. But, hey, you try to pronounce Eichhörnchen (squirrel).

View of the Schlei from in front of the Schloss.

View of the Schlei from in front of the Schloss.

Thursday consisted mostly of observation, as I attended a geography class taught in English (and having not taken geography since 10th grade, I was not much help), as well as a 5th and 6th grade earth sciences class. I also went to Frau Donovan’s 7th grade English class, where I was able to help out a bit, but was once again was astounded by their English knowledge. Also, this was the first day that I saw the sun since I arrived in Germany! Yay! And then it was shortly followed by hail…

Approaching the Hof from the road.

Approaching the Hof from the road.

Friday was more of the same in the way of observing classes. I was able to attend a “German as a foreign language” class, which had only two students in it (one from China and one from the Philippines), but that meant that I was able to participate fully and I was surprised to find how easy it was!

Things are definitely starting to get a bit easier here as I’m settling in (for a second time) and getting used to the routine. I’ve also had a bit of time to do some exploring around the school’s grounds, and I hope to make it into one of the bigger surrounding towns this weekend. Until next time!

Kara

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