Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Beginning again

Hello! Guten Tag! Guten Abend!

I am proud to introduce myself as the 31st Rimbach Gastleherin! Actually living in Rimbach and starting school this week has helped me appreciate even more what a unique piece of history I am now apart of. Thank you to everyone who helped keep this program alive and thriving over the past few years. Even at the start of my year, I already feel excited to continue following the future guest teachers.

The past 11 days have been far more enjoyable and far less lonely than I predicted. I pessimistically anticipated that I would be sitting alone in my apartment with nothing to do or no one to see until school started. That was not my experience however. I have met so many generous teachers from MLS who invited me into their homes, took me on outings, and fed me lots of pflaum kuchen. On top of that, the family who I live in the apartment with has been likewise welcoming, leaving me doorstep gifts, inviting me to festivals and helping me settle into the house. In kurz, in Rimbach ich fuehle mich daheim.

Although there are many stories to tell from the past week and a half, I'll just sum it up with a series of pictures I took. There should be one for each day.

August 10th: The day after I arrived, two friends I studied abroad with in Konstanz visited me. It was a wonderful way to explore Rimbach for the first time. Here I am in front of MLS. 

August 10th: On our walk around Rimbach, we found a concert festival taking place in Rimbach that evening. Although my friends had to return to Stuttgart, I decided to go alone and ended up having a lot of fun. You know that person who is literally the first to shamelessly get up and start dancing when ever there is an opportunity? Well, that was the women sitting next to me- so I joined her. Funny that I ended up dancing at a Blues Festival when I was searching for something culturally german to cure my homesickness. 

August 11: On my second day, Romy, Jutta Meyer, her husband Bernt and their two French friends invited me on a trip to see some local sites. We visited the Welde brewery for a tour and sampling, the palace Schwetzinger above, and the town of Weinheim. I was so happy to be included on the outing and it was wonderful getting to know Romy and Jutta better since they are also English teachers at MLS. 

August 12th: This evening I was playing the card game Ligretto with the Schmitt sisters downstairs, Caroline (12) and Hanna (10). It was a really cute evening getting to know the girls and their mom even brought us gelato from the shop down the street. After the summer rain shower, we caught this rainbow bending over Rimbach. 

August 13th: Tuesday. No plans. I woke up, and as soon as I did, I moved to my "living room" and read for most of the day. Apart from when Caroline and Hanna invited me to play with them on their trampoline (which was great), I spent a luxurious day doing nothing. At night, I lit some candles and finished my book.
August 14th: After morning coffee at fellow english teacher and neighbor, David Katzer's house, I took a trip to the nearest biggest city, Mannheim, to get some errands done. Although only 314,931 residents, it felt like NYC compared to Rimbach. Despite the excitement, I was happy to come home and will look forward to going back.

August 15th: Christina Nowak, another English teacher, invited me to her home in Bensheim for lunch. We walked around the old part of the city in the afternoon and got ice cream. It reminded me of being in Konstanz a little bit and also a little jealous of all the things big cities have to offer (i.e. public libraries, frauen tanzen gruppen and international gatherings). Later that evening, Romy, Tilo and I came back to Bensheim for a free outdoor music concert. It was great music and made me feel at home. 
August 16th: One of the things I've enjoyed most about being in Rimbach, is getting to have a space of my own to rearrange and design. Although this photo is already a bit outdated, this day, I swapped the desk and the bed. Maybe you second generations can appreciate the task knowing how heavy the desk was. I was pretty proud of myself. 

August 17th: Fisherfest. I was invited by the Schmitt family to bike to the local Fishing club to celebrate in the annual festival. The fisherfest basically is just a big fish eating party. I even got a fillet even though I am not usually a fish eater. But when in Rimbach... One thing that I loved about this event was that everyone who was there lived in the Odenwald. I liked feeling apart of the local tradition and not engulfed in a touristy ritual. Additionally, it was great to spend time with the Schmitts and meet their relatives who were there too. On the way home, we biked through the village at night and the girls showed me where their grandparents (both sets) and cousins lived and we called up to their open windows to wish them good night. It was adorable. Then they showed me not only where the bakeries were, but also where they eat Doenner during lunch, the banks, the toy store, the shoe store, the florist, the drug store. It was so endearing, I pretended I was seeing it all for the first time. 
August 19th: So I had a cute idea to make back to school rice crispy treats, even though Edeka only offered Special K. Luke left a bag of marshmellows in the pantry, so I thought I was all set. But apparently if marshmellows are too old they don't melt. I tried to redeem the occasion by making chocolate chip cookies, even though my baking record in Germany is really bad. Living in Konstanz for 5 months, and over 6 cookie making failures. I don't know what it is, but I can't bake outside of the US. This day, I was so anxious, I literally sat and watched the cookies in the oven. So then I shamelessly took a picture of myself doing so. I wish I could report that I finally succeeded, but it was another flop. Next time. 
August 19th: First day of school picture taking apparatus. I tried to get the Schmitts excited for this tradition, but they weren't really feeling it, so I finagled this thing to take a picture of myself on my balcony (after school). School the first day was great! Firsts for me are never hard because I feel like I have nothing to lose. Its the second, third, fourth etc times that I get nervous about. On Monday, it was just fun. Good energy. A lot of teachers greeted me and introduced themselves, so I definitely felt welcomed in the teacher's room. The computer, printer and copy machines were less friendly... I taught an 9th grade English class which miraculously only has 7 students in it (long story) and then an 8th grade class. It didn't go horribly, closer to good than bad, but things definitely need to change. There is a lot of energy in that group. In the afternoon, I went to have coffee with Helmut Hartmann (we had dinner together a few nights ago- he is a retired english teacher, teacher trainer, and was very involved in the Olaf/Rimbach program earlier) and he gave me countless things for my apartment. Including a rug, an old fashioned purée crank thing to make soups, couch pillows, storage drawers, mixing bowls, a ceramic pot to cook bread in! Honestly, the afternoon was more exciting than school. Like I said, I'm having a lot of fun moving in and Herr Hartmann's generosity is very much appreciated. 

August 20th: It was only Tuesday- and I only taught one double period class of 7 students- and I came home so exhausted, I felt too tired to even sleep (if that makes sense). I don't know, something about lesson planning and copy machines and navigating around the school really exhausted me. But, this cactus that Helmut gave me put me in a good mood just to look at. There is just something really adorable about it. But I like my 9th graders. I'm looking forward to a good year with them. I'm mildly scared of my 8th graders. 


  1. Wow! You're off to a roaring start! Your introduction to and exploration of Rimbach and the fine folks at the MLS puts my early efforts to shame! :-) I'm sure you'll be a wonderful teacher, and I love how you're making the apartment your own. Please tell the Schmitts hello for me, as well as the lady next door (whose name I have shamefully forgotten. I will have to dig out the card she gave me; she's extraordinarily sweet).

    It's hilarious that you also ended up at the Blues festival right in your early days. I went there in my second week or so, and was also one of the very few people up front dancing. It was a ton of fun, and I got to meet most of the band, too.

    I hope you continue to have such rewarding days! Tell David and Helmut and Jutta and Berndt hello as well :-)

  2. I swapped the bed and desk when I arrived, too. I had the desk under the skylight when I was there.

  3. thanks guys! Everyone still talks about you, by the way. I kind of like how there are small tracings of everyone in the apartment. Especially the scrap paper drawer. I used Michael's old Hauptaufsicht paper to lesson plan the other day. And I know you must have brought all the dance music I've found tucked away here, Ian.

    I will greet the neighbors for you. Although after 2 weeks, I have literally only seen the lady next door once on my first day here. I also forget her name :( I hope to see her more.

  4. Frau Bartu! And her dog, who was so cute. I forget his name.

  5. It's funny that the blog hasn't changed format since I set it up.

  6. Jock is his name. I just hung out with them for 45 minutes while I waited for a Schmitt/Kurz to come home to unlock my door. Because this was the second time I locked myself out of the house in one afternoon, the spare was also inside....

    i really like the history of the blog and how you can read back over the years. I do really like wordpress though, after using it for Olaf stuff last year. If we ever change, I'd vote for wordpress.

  7. Sorry, his name is Jock.