The importance of saying yes

Way back in September when I went to Cologne for my induction course, they told us that the most important word we’d need on our year abroad was “yes”. Within reason, they said, saying yes to every invitation and opportunity that comes your way is the key to having a successful and enjoyable year abroad. Fast forward 7 months (where the hell has all that time gone?!) to just before the end of last term and I found myself having said yes to leading my own week-long project, stood in front of 12 kids armed with little more than a British flag, a copy of Skyfall and a vague plan in my head about how to drag out the topic British Culture for an entire week. Needless to say, it was absolutely TERRIFYING and gave me a little insight into what the first ever lesson as a real teacher must feel like; kudos to all you teachers out there!

It turned out to be a reasonably successful week and gave me lots to think about in the event that I do turn out to be a teacher. We visited the English shop in Leipzig where we did a quiz about English food and bought some English snacks. After this we had a film morning – Skyfall was an obvious choice for its gratuitous shots of the London skyline. The snacks went down a treat (having said that, their reaction to Marmite and salt and vinegar crisps was one of utter disgust)! Once we’d done that, the kids had to choose a part of the UK’s culture that interested them and make a presentation on it, but much to my horror they finished way quicker than I thought they would. By Wednesday afternoon I had just about run out of things to do, so I agreed to one of the student’s ideas to bring a British film from home, which turned out to be Four Weddings and a Funeral. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s basically 2 hours of sex scenes punctuated by a bloke dying. Cue the longest and cringiest 2 hours of my life, which were spent with my head in my hands, praying that the sex would end and that none of the other teachers in the adjoining rooms would hear! Typically for Germany, with their liberal attitude to sex that puts us Brits to shame, it was only rated as a 6 but a valuable lesson was learned: always check what film you’ve agreed to show!

In the film these two spent about 5 minutes having some very, very, loud and melodramatic sex whilst I spent 5 minutes sinking lower and lower into my chair, wishing the ground would open up and swallow me!

I made a rapid exit from school on Thursday afternoon and headed for the airport. No, I hadn’t been asked to leave the country for showing children inappropriate films, but I did have a fun-packed, school-free 2 weeks of travelling about ahead of me! I’ll write about that soon, probably after I’ve been to Amsterdam this weekend, so stay tuned!

I went home during the holidays for a week, where I bumped into Miss James, my old mentor from secondary school where I helped out with a year 7 Geography class while I was in the 6th form. She asked me to do an assembly about my year abroad at her new school, which I gladly said yes to as I thought it would be quite nice to go back into an English school having now seen the way the Germans do things! The moral (every good assembly needs a moral) was that saying yes and stepping outside of your comfort zone can really open a world of new friends, experiences and opportunities to you, as I’ve discovered this year. Saying yes to Miss James when she asked if I wanted to help out with her year 7’s led me to decide to go to uni, study German, come to Germany, and teach my own class for the week, and if I’d have said no at any point the chain would have been broken and I wouldn’t be typing this now. I also wouldn’t have a viable back-up plan if the pilot thing doesn’t work out!

So the moral of this post? Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone, and wonderful things will happen. Oh, and try not to accidentally show children raunchy rom-coms! Bis zum nächsten Mal!

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