Hello from Cologne, Germany! My name is Chelsey, I’m a senior, and I will be student teaching in this great city until December first. I arrived in late August, after a crazy almost-24-hours of traveling, and have been settling into my new life since then.
How am I getting this great opportunity, you might ask? Well, I’m going through the COST program, or the Consortium for Overseas Student Teaching. It’s a program based out of Kent State, but that works with many universities around the United States, including my home base of the University of Alabama. Basically, education majors can complete their final semester of student teaching abroad- there are receiving locations in Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, and other places around the world. Cool, right? If you’re interested in more info, check out this link: Cost Program
To hit the highlights:
– I am traveling abroad with a great girl named Emma, who attends Ashland University in Ohio. We didn’t meet each other until two days before we left for Germany, when she drove from Pittsburgh, PA to my house outside of Washington, DC, so that we could bond before hopping on our flight across the pond together. We have so much in common, not least of which is the goal of becoming the best teachers we can be by learning from other education systems around the world.
– I am teaching at a school called Königin-Luise-Schule, which is a Gymnasium school (not the English word, this is the German word for what kind of school it is) for grades 5-12 in Cologne. I am working with grades 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12- sometimes I team teach, sometimes I just observe; other times I get to tutor the students one on one, and eventually, I’ll be teaching by myself. It’s not an American school, but the students all speak both English and German. Plus, I looked it up on Google maps before I came, so I already knew what it looked like (Google maps was a very important part of the pre-departure process for me. It helped me imagine my new life before I had even arrived!).
– Emma and I are living in separate places here in Cologne, which made us nervous at first but has turned out to be just fine. We both have German roommates that speak varying levels of English and are completely awesome. They do things like take us to the grocery store and point out what key words mean (important things like, this says “liver,” don’t buy it, but this means “chicken,” it’s quite good). Just the essentials!
– I take public transportation (aka the tram) to school every day. To do this, I purchased a public transit pass that needs to be renewed each month, which is roughly 60EUR. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to get to use a form of transportation that will make me feel like I’m fitting in before I got here, and now that I’m here it is SO worth it. I can take the tram anywhere in Cologne, at any time! And, it’s very easy to use.
– I have both a coordinator (well, coordinators) in the United States through Alabama and a coordinator in Germany. My Alabama coordinators will be checking in on me and making sure I fulfill all my requirements for licensure and also that I’m checking all the boxes I need to for graduation. My German coordinator will work with me both while I’m student teaching and also for general questions (things like, where do I acquire a tram pass? And, how do I pay my rent each month?). Knowing that I already had such an amazing support system in place was a big reason for why I wasn’t super nervous to come here.
My excitement level before arriving in Germany was off the charts. I slept really well on the plane ride over because I hadn’t slept in two days from pure excitement. Tylenol PM was also a must for the plane ride, as was a comfortable neck pillow. I was just so ready to get to Cologne and start my adventure!