This is a scene I very quickly got used to when I got here. The photo is taken in Leipzig’s Hauptbahnhof (central station) and shows a window overlooking the escalators down to the brand new S-Bahn (really difficult to describe but kind of like the middle ground between an underground and normal train) which runs under the city centre and onto some of the formerly less-accessible parts of Sachsen. There’s absolutely nothing to see apart from an escalator and a tiny portion of the platform but without fail, every time I go past it (generally 4 or 5 times a week) there’s always at least one person peering down in amazement. Today was a pretty important day on the Leipzig calendar because it marked the grand opening of the network after years of squabbling over the cost and whether the city even needs an S-Bahn, not to mention the years spent on its construction. The Germans love a good public transport network so there was quite the buzz at Hauptbahnhof this evening! I had planned on nabbing one of the free tickets that were on offer but the queue was so long (and orderly – I thought I’d been magically transported to another country!) that I decided to cut my losses and save it for another day. To my fellow transport nerd friend that might be reading this: expect a full report soon!
So, the reason why I happened to be at the Hautpbahnhof to catch all these goings-on was a long-awaited trip to see Janina in Magdeburg, who was the languages assistant for me while I was doing my A-Levels at school. I haven’t seen her since August and I’ve been really looking forward to catching up with her. In the post from way back at the beginning of this blog where I explained why I study German I talked about Mr. Nicholls who was my teacher and the main driving force between the course my life has taken since school. Although that’s true it does a great disservice to Janina by not mentioning her input at all, which I’m now putting right! Janina was pretty much the first ever real German I spoke to, had a laugh with and made friends with. Her year abroad was so successful that it became two and resulted in lots of long-lasting friends, and the impact she had on me was one of the main reasons why I chose a) to study German at university so one day I could have a laugh with her in German as well as in English, and b) to do an assistantship when I went abroad. Because I work at relatively low-ability schools I’m unlikely to inspire anyone to go on and study English further but Janina’s style when we were at school has really been helpful this year in building a rapport with my students. The mantra so far is it doesn’t matter if it’s not all in English, as long as they’re having fun and are enthusiastic about the language then that’s all that counts. It’s been pretty effective so far, especially with the weakest kids who otherwise have no reason to be interested in English at all. So thank you Janina, I owe you one!
Magdeburg is the capital of Sachsen-Anhalt, the federal state which is next to Sachsen. People had told me that it wasn’t much of a looker but I’m afraid I have to disagree! I’ll let the pictures do the talking – until next time!