William’s First Day at School

If this seems like it was written by a girl, that’s because it was transcribed and edited by one.

15. September

Started the day coming in to school having no idea what to do. There were a bunch of people standing awkwardly in the entrace hall, so I joined them. It was good to see that I wasn’t the only one who was unsure.

I talked briefly with a Japnese student and a Swiss student. Both were very nice. Most of the students, of course, are from Germany. There is a wide range of ages from 15 and up. Most are probably in their early 20’s, but there is also a woman who is 46. I did not have to worry about being the oldest.

Eventually the principle came out and took us into the lecture hall to give us an introductory presentation and do a roll call. I understood maybe half of that and there were no handouts to help me, so it was very difficult.

After that we got split up into our classes. The gold- and silversmith classes are combined during the first year, and we were split up into two classes. There are 12 people in my section, and only one other boy. It wasn’t entirely clear where to go, and at first I was worried I was in the wrong place. But I was actually in the right place and a few people did go to the wrong place. That made me feel a bit better about the language barrier.

The first thing that we did was introductions. The teacher started, and I learned that she had previously studied at this same school. She has done many study programs and had her own silversmithing business. I am actually leaning towards choosing silversmithing when the time comes because it is so different from what I have been doing. But I really have no idea yet.

I couldn’t understand half of my classmates’ introductions since they were talking so fast. I didn’t know what was going on and that was very frustrating. But I got through my introduction and it went okay.

A lot of people in my class know each other because they live in two WGs that are in the same building. Of the 12 people in my class, 4-5 are in one of those two WGs, making it even harder for me to get to know people.

We started talking about tools and had a 20 minute break. I could follow along – kinda. The teacher would hold up a tool and I would know what it is and what it does, but I had no idea what she was saying.

Lunch was super awkward. I didn’t know anyone and no one had talked to me. I had no idea what to do and lunch was an hour and a half long. It’s ridiculous. I may come to appreciate it eventually, but for now I would rather have a half hour long and get out an hour earlier. It is very different from the 15 minute lunch I am used to. I went for a walk and sat with a few other students. Extremely awkward. I hardly said a single word and they hardly said a single word to me.

Back to class. Finished going over the tools, and then we were introduced to our first project. We were given a story problem, that concluded in us needing to figure out how to make a teething ring out of wood. Basically, a ring with a perfectly circular cross section. The rest of the day was spent discussing the process and the properties of wood. This was an area where I was kinda able to follow along because I already knew the process, but I could not understand what was being said. It was very hard and I felt very stupid.

Throughout the day, I probably understood 25-30% of what was being said. I can generally understand when someone is talking to me, but a group of Germans talking to each other is very difficult to understand.

16. September

Today we went on a field trip. The whole school – all 100 of us on a train.

I had to get into a group of 5 at the train station. The teachers didn’t do it, and it was awkward and obnixious, as it is even in English. It was good once we had the groups, though. I could just stick with those people and it would be okay.

We went to the train station for the towns of Weizern and Hopferau. From there we hiked to the town of Zell, about 5 kilometers. There we visited the museum for the two castles in the area, before visiting one of the castles itself. We could have visited the second, but by the time we were done with the first no one really wanted to hike up to it. The castles were Eisenberg and Hohenfreyberg.

This is a field trip that they do every year. The whole purpose of the day is for us all to get to know each other. In particular, to get to know the people in the other classes and the other years. It’s a nice place to go if the weather is good, and it definitely did its job.

I got the chance to talk to a few people today as we walked along. There was also a lot of awkwardly walking next to them while they talked to someone else, since I am not at the point where I can have an intelligent conversation in German. But it was definitely an improvement from yesterday. I had lots of little conversations and people were quite nice and friendly. The Japanese student actually invited me to walk up the hill with him, which was very nice.

As far as the trip itself, the weather was perfect and it was absolutely gorgeous. The castles were ruins, which in a lot of ways is much nicer than visiting sterile palaces. We were actually allowed to climb it and really explore. I scaled a castle wall!

In one of the towns there is a small brewery. Lots of people in my class bought beer, which was so weird to see! 18-year-olds buying beer on a school trip?

In general, the whole day was very nice and very comforting. A very good change from yesterday. The field trip did its job.


1 Comment

  1. carol

    Congratulations. You survived your first two days. It will only get easier. Take a clue from the Japanese student and be the one to start the conversation. Not something your mom is really good at but there are people in the family who are.
    Anxious to hear more.


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