This is pretty much a post simply to keep my family abreast of life here in Germany. All is going well, we have started classes, and the routine is well under way. I do have plenty of administrative work for the program going on the side that is requiring tending to, but it appears to be at a level I can manage at the moment.
Fears have been removed and I am speaking and doing everything in German just like the old days.
What's been new this week?
I joined a choir last night along with 4 of the students. The choir is called the Schorndorfer Kantorei which normally is about an 80 voice choir made up of members of the community and region. Last night, for the first rehearsal in 2015 there were more than 100 that showed up. We were introduced as the Americans joining the group and got a warm welcome from everyone.
I joined a gym today called Clever Fit. They usually only have one year contracts, but I explained my situation and why I was in town to the point that they are letting me do a month to month plan while I am here. I only need the weights and machines, but the compromise was that my fee would include everything at this fitness center - weights, trainer, cardio, massage, tanning, drinks, showers, classes, etc... . From my Facebook post about the experience today...
Cultural Observation: A German Gym (Fitness Center) is just like it is in America - except everybody totally stares at you in Germany. Non-stop! On the other hand, gym etiquette is much better in Germany for everything else (beyond the staring). People obey the rules, put their weights back, wait their turn for the machine or bench, are very polite, and people talk to each other. Thumbs up on the experience! But the staring....is sorta creepy and odd compared to the Midwest gym scene.
We had our first snow today since arriving. It didn't stick in Schorndorf itself, but just up the hill the mountains are covered and the trees look beautiful.
We eat at one restaurant on M-W-F. Tuesday is our "roving day" and today we went to an Italian restaurant (Italian owners and cooks) called La Scala. The pasta - as one would imagine from a true Italian cook - was great!
We will rotate through 2-4 other restaurants on our Tuesdays as it was a group decision to do that. Thursdays, I will simply give money to the students so they can eat somewhere on their own for lunch as every Thursday at 5 PM we will have a Pizza Abend which has been a tradition for the Simpson Schorndorf program. That way, I'm sure that everyone is getting 5 good hot meals a week. Part of the experience for the students is culturally for them to try new things - including food. One student ate pumpkin (pumpkin soup) for the first time in her life yesterday. Several had never had oil and vinegar on a green salad before and didn't finish their salads because of it. The owner pulled me aside and asked if there was something wrong and what could he do about it. I told him not to worry that the salad was excellent. I suggested perhaps we have the dressing on the side so the students can regulate themselves what goes on the salad and how much of it. He said that would be fine.
I turned in the forms and purchased the monthly local transportation cards yesterday. Tomorrow we go to the Police Station to register that we are living in Schorndorf and pick up our forms to apply for our Visas. I bought train tickets for our Saturday trip to Heidelberg, and for the next two weekend trips as well including a trip to France.
A few of our dates and arrangements got ironed out at the Volkshochschule for some upcoming events we will do with our host families. A joint trip with the host families, a presentation evening where we will present photo projects and do some singing/performing for them, and a final good bye/friendship evening in April before we go. Everyone is very nice here which I'm not sure what I was expecting having lived in Vienna. I have had nothing but positive experiences with everyone I have met and dealt with during these first 2 weeks. That certainly makes for a more pleasant transition and experience thus far. Maybe it's still the honeymoon phase so to speak.
That's it for now as I must prepare tomorrow's lesson plans a bit more thoroughly based on how the first two days went.