Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Fond Farewell

Beloved readers, the time has come for me to update you all for the last time.  As I type, I have already made the voyage across the Atlantic, and am sitting in a hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, waiting for my shuttle to take me to the airport so I can take that last flight home to Texas.  Germany, the country I have called home for slightly over a year, is behind me.

It would be foolish for me to attempt to fill you all in on everything that has happened since the last post, since that would include a whole semester and half the summer holidays.  Instead, I will give a general overview and list some highlights of the year.  Overall, the second semester at the MLS surpassed the first by far, in terms of sheer enjoyment.  Having adjusted to the rigors of teaching, I was able to lead lessons with much more confidence and I had a great time with all of my classes.  I truly enjoyed getting to know my students both in and out of the classroom and I will miss them all next year.  Hopefully I will be able to come back and visit before they graduate.  My ninth graders gave me a signed basketball, and my eleventh graders gave me a signed t-shirt, both of which I will treasure.

I had more to do outside of the classroom in the last six months as well.  The basketball season wrapped up well, and two of my best friends from home, John and Jordan, were in Germany to see my best game of the season, as I scored some 24 points and led us to fourth place.  I also hung out with several of the 13th graders a bunch towards the end of the year, and continued to go to local festivals with other teachers and student teachers.  As my German improved, so did my confidence in going out and striking up conversations with people I didn't know.  I was actually mistaken for being a German several times while talking with people, and they were surprised when I told them I was American!!  Though in the spirit of full disclosure, there were other times when my flawed German made itself painfully obvious.

The last week of the school year - Abiwoche - was probably the most fun all year, as the 13th Graders partied in tents behind the school all week, and finished up with their Graduation ceremony and prom.  It was great to hang out with them during the week and get to know a bunch of them better.  It was also a blast to play my last saxophone solo at graduation and to do a surprised choreographed dance (despite my crutches) with some other teachers at the prom.

My three weeks of summer were rather full, as I hung out with as many people as possible and slowly said goodbyes to everyone.  I also went on a 10 day trip with Timo, Lukas, and Sebastian to Norway, which proved to be some of the most spectacular and adrenaline-filled hiking that I've done.  And then it was over.  I suddenly found myself with only few days left in Germany with which to see everyone I knew one more time, fill out all the forms required for leaving a country, and pack everything I own into two suitcases which couldn't be too heavy.  And here I am, about to fly with those suitcases and memories to Texas.

The impact of my year in Germany is still nowhere near to hitting me or even feeling real.  I said goodbye to my friends with the feeling that I would see them soon, but the reality is that it will probably be at least a year or two.  I found myself trying to speak as much German as I could before I landed, talking to anyone and everyone on the plane, as the opportunity to improve my skills was about over.  I'm sure there are aspects of German life, culture, and food which I will realize I sorely miss as time goes by, and I look forward to discovering what those things are.  For now, it's nice to simply look back on a few highlights of my year: going to Kerwes with the Odenwaeldergang, playing saxophone solos, Berlin with the eleventh graders, Italy with Stacy and Garrett, the Weinachtskonzert, the Superbowl party, mountain biking, basketball with TSG Weinheim, Osterferien with John and Jordan, hanging out with my ninth and eleventh graders, Fruehlingsfest in Stuttgart with Thomas, Abiwoche, Abizelten, Abiball, Norway, and many more.

I won't attempt to name people who helped to make my year there special, as there are too many and I don't want to leave anyone out.  But most of you know who you are, and everyone will continue to be fondly remembered by me.  As with all years, there were ups and downs this year, but I know that it helped me to gain confidence and independence, meet people with a more open mind, explore new cultures and ideas, and to grow up.  It was a year that has impacted me as much as any before it.  As the year of the 30th Rimbach guest teacher ends, so does his blog.  In the words of someone much more traveled than I am: "I am going now.  I bid you all a very fond farewell.  Goodbye."

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