"My soul is elsewhere, I'm sure of that. And I intend to end up there." -- Rumi

Friday, October 11, 2013

Workin' and Ridin' the Rails in Kassel

Lessee... do I blog about my first week teaching in Kassel, blog about the Valley of the Kings, or turn my internet stick off completely for a whole hour and watch some Jeremy Brett?

... I guess the teaching thing should come first.  Boo, I know.

On that note, I just completed my first "full" week of teaching.  Full is in quotes because apparently I do not yet have a full schedule, despite painfully long days at least three out of the five.  On two of those three days, It's painfully long not because I am teaching a million classes and making a ton of money, but because I am riding the rails on Kassel's assorted bus and tram system three to four hours a day to get to all our different client sites.  Needless to say, this reality is slightly different than the "teach two classes at one site in the morning, take a break for lunch and travel 20 minutes to the second site, teach two classes there" that was described to me during the hiring process.

(Note:  I am currently a freelancer, which means I get paid per teaching hour.  This has its benefits and its flaws, and a fair number of both.)

It's been a long week.  Long hours full of meeting my students, figuring out all of my assorted routes, internal paperwork for my company, and of course, the dreaded lesson plan.  Otherwise known as "what I did all freaking evening in my apartment the past couple of days."  I'm really glad it's Friday.  The paperwork is (mostly) done, classes are over and happened successfully, and before too long I really do promise that I'm going to be cracking open that bottle of Italian red (sorry Germany) and watching Jeremy Brett be simultaneously off-putting and amazing, while sitting on my loveseat in my long underwear.

This is, without question, the most work I've been asked to do in a long time.  It might even be more time-consuming than my other-life DC job, and that fact kind of boggles my little dilettante expat mind.  But while this job asks a lot of me, it also does something else that was pretty noticeably lacking in places like DC and Istanbul.

The work is rewarding.  My students are respectful, punctual, hardworking, and smart.  I end the day feeling exhausted and productive, and while I might not be jazzed at the idea of waking up at 7:00 AM, it's hella more peaceful than how I used to feel when laying my head down in Istanbul.  Of course I'd heard from multiple sources that this pretty much is how it is in the world of teaching adult ESL English.  I'm tired.  I legit just did something like five hours of paperwork to close out my Friday.  I have something like 12 completely customized 90-minute lesson plans to get through this weekend, unless I want to punish myself like I did this week, and assume I can do the next day's load the night before.  Not so much.

I still wouldn't trade where I am now for anything in the world.

See, I don't mind working hard when I can actually get behind what it is I'm being asked to do.  Didn't happen much in DC, let me tell you.  Maybe a little bit in Georgia, with my MOJ students at least.  And Turkey?  Forget it.  I'll always be super grateful to Istanbul for showing me the teaching experience that I am not suited for and do not want.  It made deciding which jobs to apply for a whole lot easier this time around.

I know that it will get easier -- that I'll get to know the secret tricks of the mass transit system and that lesson planning won't take nearly as long once I know my students and what it is they're really looking for (and needing!).  The paperwork.... that's something I'm just going to have to learn to love. :)

It's kind of nice to be challenged again.  To have to actually use my brain a little.  I mean, not that I don't seriously miss drinking beer and vodka all afternoon while staring bemusedly at the Black Sea and Georgian Men Hair Sleeves.  That was pretty freaking awesome, for a time.  But it's nothing I could build a life around.  I think that option might just be here for me though.

I'm happy to be here.  Happy to have gotten through the week with no disasters or dumb newbie mistakes.  Happy to be sitting with my feet up on my very own dilapidated loveseat, with the sounds of the tram whirring by outside every few minutes on this chilly and rainy Friday night in Kassel, Germany.

Oh, and today I booked my ticket to fly home for Christmas and New Year's.  Can we say pudgy adorable smiley baby in tiny lederhosen?  Because I sure as hell can.

It's not a bad life.  Not at all.

All right, I can check "one blog post" off the list.  (Did you guess I picked this one over Egypt because it was shorter??)  I'm ready to see some Reichenbach Falls.

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