German Goodbyes

August 28, 2016 at 5:42 am (Germany)

This might possibly be the hardest blog entry I’ve ever had to write.  I’ve been putting it off because I haven’t really been ready to voice what I think needs to be expressed here or more importantly, what I need to express here.  How do I explain the feelings I have leaving a country that I love, that has been my home for the majority of my adult life?  A place that has taught me to be independent and proud of who I am, a place that has given me beautiful friendships that I treasure.

I’ve managed to leave and I’ve started a hugely bizarre new chapter in my life and yet I keep having to pinch myself that I have truly taken this step and emerged from my German bubble.  I didn’t realise that I was so brave and so strong.  Others have told me that I am, but I don’t often feel that way.

I have truly been blessed during my six and a half years learning, loving and experiencing Germany and I miss my life and my friends and my students every day.  There is no way I could mention you all in this post.  The acts of kindness, the extra smile, the traditions and laughter you have shared with me.  I can’t even begin to thank you for the memories and kindness.  For sharing your joys and your tears, for making my time in Germany one I will never forget.  But perhaps the following pictures will give some justification as to how I feel and how proud I am of myself and the person I have become because of the experiences that you have given me during the past six and a half years

Thank you for sharing, thank you for letting me into your life.

I will be back…

xoxo

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It’s supposed to be Summer?

July 3, 2016 at 10:18 pm (Germany)

13244812_10153957602600589_1231447492989597618_nIt’s pretty hard to believe it is summer in Germany at the moment.  The weather keeps fluctuating between wet, rainy and warm with some very random glimpses of sun.  Yet here I am, at the beginning of my summer holidays.  Let’s hope the sun is shining for me on my travels at least.  🙂

My one week whirlwind tour back home was a huge success.  Grandma seriously had no idea I would be at her ninetieth birthday party and I know both her and dad really appreciated me making the effort.  I also got to meet the most precious little angel, Mya Magic.  I am truly one besotted aunt. There’s not much else to say about my trip aside from the fact it was chockablock full of catch ups.  I loved seeing everybody and leaving again was harder than I had imagined.  Bob and Sharne made sure I had an amazing send off at their engagement party though.  I’m really looking forward to being home for Christmas this year!

It was off the flight and straight into the frying pan for me.  My Grade 5 students had their big Exhibition project night just three days after I arrived back in Germany.  I was working
off adrenalin and very little sleep but we managed to pull it all together for Exhibition evening.  The students were truly amazing and I am so proud of all their hard work and IMG_1399enthusiasm.

Then it was off to Grade 5 camp.  It was great being out in the nature with the students and having the opportunity to see them respond to different situations.  The camp was a huge success, as were the abundance of campfire songs I have inherited from my mother.

P1020956After camp it was straight into the report writing!  The end of the school year is always a whirlwind of organising and hoping things run smoothly.  In true Kate style I had to add another component into the mix… my wisdom teeth.

 

 

Having my wisdom teeth out has been one of the most horrific experiences of my life.  I’ve never been particularly squeamish about going to the dentist before but I think things may have changed.  I was booked in to have all four out at my dentist.  She managed to get the top two out but struggled with the bottom left.  Apparently the tooth was so big that she needed to cut it in half and take it out in two pieces.  Then that didn’t work so she took out part of the tooth, stitched me up and didn’t even bother trying the bottom right.  I think I was in the chair for over an hour.  Luckily my colleague Kathy had promised to look after me and I spent the next four days at her place.  She made sure I was icing, taking medicine and actually eating while I slowly turned from a chipmunk back into my old self.

imageSo slowly my Stuttgart experience has come to an end.  I’ve played my last hockey game, said goodbye to my beautiful students and sold my furniture.  There are so may wonderful people that have made my time here amazing.  You know who you are, and I love you all.

They journey continues… stay tuned.

xoxo

 

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Stuttgart Adventures

May 20, 2016 at 6:04 pm (Germany)

Contrary to popular belief, I am not always galavanting around Europe.  Granted I do tend to spend a lot of my weekends somewhere if I am not playing hockey.  At the moment this is me just trying to catch up with everyone, so that doesn’t really count as proper travelling if you ask me.  It’s more catching up with friends and enjoying the sunshine.

IMG_1161After returning from my easter trip, Ashley and I finally made it to Hohenzollern Castle.  We decided we wanted to go together months and months ago and it took us ages and ages to finally find a date and get organised.  This castle is the original home of the Hohenzollern dynasty, who were important family in Prussia, the German Empire and Romania.  We were definitely blown away by its fairytale appearance in the mountains and the magnificent views.  However, we were disappointed with the castle itself as we hadn’t done our research thoroughly.  The castle was rebuilt in 1846 – 1867 for the third time as a family memorial.  Thus nobody has ever lived there and it is all for show.  It was a lovely day out with a good friend though.

I had more friends to greet on return to Stuttgart as Anneli and Gregor visited with Anneli’s cousin.  They had decided to take Annika to see Tarzan as her confirmation present.  We had a lovely evening playing TAC and chatting.  The next day we wanted to visit the zoo but as we couldn’t find a carpark we settled for an ice cream overlooking Stuttgart at the famous Pinguin Eis.

With Gudrun I also explored Stuttgart further.  On a glorious day we visited the Stuttgarter Fernsehrturm, which was the first television tower built in the world and the icon of the city.  We walked there from my place and enjoyed the views as it changed from day to night.  The building has only recently been reopened to the public after it was closed for fire safety reasons in 2013.

The next weekend was spent in Marburg visiting friends.  It was really lovely to get back to the city where basically my whole German adventure begun.  I can’t believe it has been seven years since I supervised the exchange from McKinnon Secondary! I split my weekend between visiting the Kaulens and seeing Gwen.  Rabea and I had lots to chat about and of course we made sure to play some Phase 10!  Afterwards I even got to watch Gwen play in her first hockey game for Marburg.  🙂  She has recently moved there to follow her dream of medicine and she certainly seems to have found her feet.  I’m extremely proud of you Gwen!  Her parents and sister also came to the game and we had a lovely dinner together afterwards.  So it was a big catch up all round.  🙂

IMG_1291Generally here in Stuttgart things have been rolling on as per usual.  Hockey is improving since we moved back on to the field but unfortunately no goals or wins to report.  School is smack bam in the middle of Exhibition which is the Grade 5 cumulating project for the PYP Programme.  It does keep me very busy but it is amazing watching the students shine.  The Frühlingsfest has been on and I have been having some great nights out dancing on tables to very dodgy German music.  But most importantly, the sun has started to shine so I am happy again and eating way to much ice cream!

Last weekend was a long weekend and my spread my time wisely between visiting my old flatmate Anselm in Karlsruhe, spending time at home, shopping with my Stuttgart bestie, playing hockey and seeing Simon and Nóra in Tübingen.  It sounds busy but it was actually a really nice packed weekend.

Anselm and I spent the whole day in the sunshine riding bikes around Karlsruhe.  First we went to the Turmberg and then we rode all the way to the banks of the Rhein.  In between we stopped for an absolutely amazing ice cream.  (German’s seriously do the best ice cream after Italy)  For someone who claims he never has time to get out and about, he did a magnificent job of being a tour guide.

I’ve been busy, but I’ve been happy and am still, as always, looking forward to new and exciting adventures.

xoxo

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Chilling in Stuttgart

April 1, 2016 at 3:42 pm (Germany)

IMG_0906I must admit to being a bit behind with this post.  I had good intentions to have it posted BEFORE my Easter holidays begun.  Considering how stressed and busy I was, this was a very ambitions aim.  Instead I have given myself a day off being busy during my skiing holiday in Austria with Danny, and am finally getting around to at least posting the mischief I had been up to before the holidays begun.

I’ve had quite a lot of visitors as late.  Damaris’ mother Gudrun is currently doing a personal development course in Degerloch of all places!  So she has been to stay twice and will be back a number of times before the summer holidays.  It works out perfectly for her as she can walk to her course from my place and it’s great catching up with her.  Gwen also came for a surprise visit and we kept up our musical tradition.  This time we saw Rocky which I really enjoyed.  Not sure if I can make a show happen for her birthday and Christmas present again next year though!

Straight after I saw Gudrun, Damaris and I finally worked out a weekend for me to go visit her in Ravensburg!  We hadn’t seen each other in over a year, which is a bit silly since we really don’t live that far away from each other these days.  We had lots of catching up to do and we should definitely try and see each other more often.  It all worked out really well because Damaris’ sister Janina had suggested to their father that they should go skiing on the Saturday, he then invited Damaris which of course meant I got to go too!  So I got to go skiing AND see both Uwe and Janina.  Happy times all round. 🙂

On the Sunday Damaris and I visited the Ravensburg Museum, which of course is all about the famous game board and jigsaw making company.  Some of my favourite games are Ravensburger… Phase 10, Enchanted Forest, Make and Break so it was pretty cool to find out about the history of the company.  I would say that the company is best known for their jigsaw puzzles outside Germany.  You can tell products are by them by the distinctive blue triangle and Ravensburger written in white on the bottom right hand corner of the box.

Our disastrous hockey season has finally come to an end.  We managed to score 4 goals and had a whopping 132 goals scored against us.  Needless to say, those of us who played the majority of the season were very happy to put away our indoor sticks and are looking forward to some success on the field.  For the first time in my life I also had the opportunity to play indoor hockey undermanned.  This is not an experience I would wish upon anyone.  It was extremely hard work but an absolutely amazing experience because we really did work as a team.  We stayed positive and had lots of fun.  We put up a fight and I am extremely proud of both that and my teammates.

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The 2016 Halfmarathon has been run and conquered.  This year I decided to tackle Frankfurt as the weekend worked and I could team it with a visit to Darmstadt.  A few weeks prior I ran a fairly hilly 10km race with two friends and was disappointed with my time.  I had really hoped to clock the 1hr mark and was unfortunately a few seconds over.  This put a kick up my but and aimed with a final three week Stefan training plan I made the most of what little time I had and tried to stay as positive as I could.  I was a little worried about my knees (they seem to be quite unpredictable) but I was sure I would make it round.  Cheered on by Stefan, who not only chauffeured me to the event, but also made sure he cheered me on at four different points, I ran what my legs wanted to and was rewarded with a very unexpected PB.  My official Halfmarathon time is now 2:08:12 taking three minutes off my first race in Köln, 2013.  This kind of made up for not receiving a medal… I do like the homemade one that Alex and I put together though!

 

I loved being back in Darmstadt and the lazy way I could organise my time.  Fiona, Gwen and Anneli were all away and Franzi was sick so I had ample time to catch up with people.  I stayed with Doris and her family and really enjoyed Doris’ amazing cooking and feeling a part of their little family for the weekend.  I saw Astrid for our coffee chat and did some shopping.  I always find it much easier to shop in Darmstadt, I guess I just know the ins and the outs of the city better than Stuttgart.  Seeing Julie for a drink was also lovely.  She insisted on a celebratory drink, perhaps that’s what made me run so well in the half the next day?  I also FINALLY got to see Rob again… our schedules haven’t crossed in ages so it was good to catch up and have a good old Aussie chat.

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The birthday champagne competition is officially on.  This is Simon’s contribution.  You might remember Suzie’s golden bottle from last year?

I’ve turned older since I wrote this… 32, single and living in Europe with some exciting adventures ahead!  These seemed like the perfect reasons to celebrate, especially considering my birthday was on a Saturday.  I invited a whole lot of people from hockey, school and the Stuttgart Aussie group and we had a great night.  I was disappointed that only Stephie came from hockey… there were actually more people from my hockey team in Darmstadt at the party as both Gwen and Anneli came!  But everybody else made up for it.  Even my old flatmate Anselm came and although he knew nobody he stayed the whole night!  Thank you to everybody who came, contributed and for the amazing presents.  Each and everyone of you are a reminder of why I love living here and why leaving will be so hard!

 

xoxo

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Snow Bunnies

February 12, 2016 at 8:15 pm (Germany, Travel)

The last four weeks have been a particularly busy stretch for me.  In fact, I wasn’t home for one full weekend at all!  The Christmas holidays only finished four weeks ago but it feels like a lifetime in between.

My first weekend involved a crash visit to Darmstadt for Anneli’s house warming.  She had been dropping hints left right and centre that she’d really like me to come so I made it happen.  It was a whirlwind trip with me catching up with my old colleague Martin, Astrid, Stefan, Fiona, Gwen and her family as well as my hockey girls Anneli, Johanna, Franzi and Klara at the house warming.  I don’t think I stopped for a moment!

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First time I have actually managed to get a photo on a snow covered hockey field!

Then it was an early train back to Stuttgart for my hockey game and to support the TEC boys who were playing against Stuttgart.  It was so lovely watching them play again and actually knowing the people I was supporting on the field.  A lot of people were not too impressed I was supporting Darmstadt, but when I pointed out I had played there for six years and three of the players had coached me they let me off the hook.  They really are a great group of guys and a lot of fun to watch.

That weekend also begun my three English musicals in a week.  Now this is actually quite an achievement when you factor in that I live in Germany.  I saw the Sound of Music at the Kelley brackets the Friday before I went to Darmstadt, my school’s production of Fiddler on the Roof on the following Tuesday and then Matilda on the Friday night of my weekend in London.  All three musicals were fantastic in their own right.  I loved how Fiddler involved both students and teachers and how seamlessly this worked.  The Sound of Music is full of well known and well loved songs and the female leads were fantastic.

The highlight however was Matilda.  Suzie and I had been plotting (literally for years) to go and see the musical and my God it did not disappoint.  The choreography was absolutely outstanding and the portrayal of Miss Trunchbull totally spot on.  The production was fun from start to finish and comes highly recommended.  Frances and her London musical/theatre recommendations never fail!

The following weekend I spent in Hannover at the annual German international teacher’s conference (AGIS).  This year I presented on ‘Interactive Classroom Displays’ and although I was very nervous my presentation went off without a hitch.  I received really positive feedback and am very glad for the experience.  Although I didn’t find the presentations as helpful or as insightful as previous years, I did enjoy catching up with my old colleagues at the SISS as well as other familiar faces from the German teaching scene.  I even managed to fit in my weekly long run!

imageIn between various other things came up… Australia Day was celebrated at the local Irish pub and it was great to see so many Aussies there.  The German version of the Bachelor started so I have been watching it every week with a group of German friends.  It’s actually a lot of fun when there are so many people around to discuss the stupidity of it all.  🙂  For Fasching at school I pulled out my old school uniform, including school shoes and socks.  Amazingly it still all fits and the English teachers in particular thought the costume was a hoot.

Last weekend began with my C1 Goethe Institut German exam.  This was paid for by the school as part of a German course which they offer all new staff members.  My German is probably more at a C2 level so I didn’t take the C1 exam as seriously as I probably should have.  To be honest, between all my weekends away, AGIS and reports I barely had any time to even consider it.  I did do some practice reading and listening in the week leading up to the exam which definitely helped.  I’m pretty happy with how it all went, am sure I passed and am eager to find out my results.

imageThen on Sunday Mish and I left for our much awaited skiing trip to Lech.  I hadn’t been out on the slopes for a year so I was keen to get back into the swing of it.  My legs were not so keen.  They were very sore on the second day.  We had three full days of skiing and then skied a half day on the last day because the weather was heavenly.  It was amazing watching our confidence grow over the weekend, mainly due to our ski fairies who took us under their wing on our third day.  We skied and ate well.  A wonderful trip all round and a huge thank you to Mish for being my partner in crime!

This weekend I am finally in Stuttgart and unbelievably I am here next weekend too!  Tomorrow I am off shopping with Stephie at an outlet village and I have two runs planned for the weekend, as well as cleaning and school work.  It’s not always fun and games contrary to popular belief.  😉

xoxo

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