Time for a confession! Since I arrived back home over a month ago, I thought I had already nicely wrapped up this blog. Whoops. Technically speaking, my year abroad isn’t over yet: I’m heading to Munich for a month in August for a German course. Munich is my favourite city in Germany so I’m super excited to be spending more time there, plus I’ll be able to pop back to my beloved Austria for a few visits.
As clichéd it may be, my four months in Austria were some of the best of my life. A few years ago, I could never have imagined teaching a class of foreign kids by myself (and people who know me will vouch for this) but it was even better than I thought. I’ve made some lifelong friends, perhaps an enemy or two along the way, and when I’m an old biddy in a nursing home, I’m sure my eyes will glaze over when I talk about my happy days in Austria.
If you’ve stopped feeling nauseous after that last Stilton-dripping paragraph, read on to find out some of my year abroad bloopers: the funniest parts of my job as a language assistant.
- It wasn’t uncommon to hear some of the worst English swear words uttered in a casual fashion in the classroom, often causing me to erupt into laughter at inappropriate times. The pupils were free to wear whatever clothes they wanted and one sleepy Monday morning, a boy strolled into school wearing – I kid you not – a baseball cap with c*** emblazoned on the front and a T-shirt with the F-word written three times. Having spent the morning cringing whenever I saw the sweary student around school, I felt somewhat relieved to see him walk past the headteacher in a gap between lessons. Instead, she greeted him with a smile and carried on with her day quite happily!
- A teacher asked me to look over some essays about nutrition written by her class of final year students and one text in particular caught my eye. The pupil had previously been told to find synonyms for “good” and “bad” rather than repeating herself, but her thesaurus was obviously faulty. Gems from her work included “chocolate is crap for you” and “the shit thing about diets is…”
- A poor first-grader (Year 9 in British terms) spent the whole of his five-minute presentation about transport pronouncing “hot air balloon” as “whore air balloon”. The class teacher, who was overseeing the presentations, did not correct him until the very end of his monologue, by which point I was shuddering with barely contained laughter at the back of the room.
- During my last lesson with my Abendschule (evening school) class, I was running mock oral exams with the students, talking to each one individually. When it came to his turn, the pupil in question plonked himself on the chair in front of me and whispered conspiratorially, “When I watch Miranda, I think of you.” When I, aghast, asked him if he thought I looked or acted like Miranda Hart, he simply laughed and started talking about the impending exam. I am still scarred.
- The quickest exit from the school yard was by going through an electronic barrier which rose when cars wanted to get through. Miss Smarty Pants here was about 100 metres from said barrier when she spotted it rising for a car. I took a chance and jogged, in the most civilised way I could muster, to try and get under the barrier before it closed and I would have to walk the long way round. You can see what’s going to happen here, can’t you? Although I managed to squeeze my way under, I whacked my forehead on the semi-closed barrier. Wait, it gets worse. I quickly looked around to check that no students had seen me; fortunately, I had not been spotted. But I had been spotted. The car driver had noticed my accident and got out. Through my watering eyes, mascara smeared everywhere, I realised it was my teacher crush. Herr X simply gave me what he must have hoped was a pitying smile and jumped back in his car, driving away as quickly as possible. Yay me.
So it’s *starts singing operatically* time to say goodbye on this blog, but, after catching the blogging bug, I set up a more general blog last month. It’s called 21st Time Lucky (https://21sttimelucky.wordpress.com/) and I would love to see you there! If not, thanks for reading my blog over the last few months. Ce fut un plaisir…