An Englishman Abroad – A tale of (not told with) efficiency, precision and punctuality

I’m currently tapping away at my laptop in Germany where I have
arrived bright eyed and very English. I’m a third(ish) year Royal Holloway
student and for the next nine months will be working as an English Teaching
Assistant in the Saxon city of Leipzig, which is in the old East Germany.

Following a lovely send off from Heathrow and a moment of
wonder when my bag was actually one of the first off the conveyor belt at the
other end, I checked into my hostel in Cologne for the night and went off in
search of grub. In compensation for my unadventurous choice of Burger King from
the train station, I happened upon the most romantic of locations and sat on
the steps of Cologne’s enormous cathedral watching the sun set over the
skyline. Beautiful.

The next day the Saxony-bound assistants, as well as those
set for Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, were whisked off to a remote little
village called Altenberg to undertake a three day training course. This
consisted almost entirely of planning a lesson… and then delivering it. I, for
my part, got my ‘class’ to play a stereotype guessing game and drew an awful,
awful gingerbread man supposedly representing the stereotypical Briton.
Naturally, we ended up singing ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ a lot and
asking each other if we had pets. I can’t say I left feeling overly prepared to
take on the youth of Germany but it was great to meet other assistants while I
was there.

I’ve been placed in two schools; the first, a vocational school for pupils who wish
to become pharmaceutical, veterinary and medical assistants (my degree is in German
and Drama…) and the second, a specialist secondary school for blind and visually
impaired children. I’m visually impaired myself which may well account for that

Naturally, in my application, I applied for primary schools.

Still, following a sleepy early morning coach ride and a few inevitable
train dramas – one train was cancelled and another delayed by an hour-
the oh-so-efficient railway got me to Leipzig on Thursday evening in one
piece and ready for an early morning start at the vocational school the next

As luck would have it my first lesson was in with the
assistants, who were learning body parts, and naming things that I’d
never heard of in English let alone German. Suffice to say, there were
some I had heard of that raised a few titters from the pupils. It could be
an interesting year. Luckily they didn’t ask me to help them with their
pronunciation of ‘testicles’.

Currently I’m homeless. This is partly due to unfinished renovations.
It’s also due to the fact that, with somewhat spectacular timing, the
lady I was going to live with has become pregnant within the last week. I
am, for the moment, staying with one of the English teachers, but I have had
one day pretty much to myself. I started by getting up to watch the calamity
that was the rugby (England-France), going into town to have a look around,
having a sausage, and getting hideously lost- standard Englishman abroad
banter. Leipzig seems like a lovely place though, and there’s some cracking
Renaissance architecture floating about if that’s you’re thing.

Having ‘work on Monday morning’ seems an odd proposition
after two years at Royal Holloway, but we’ll see how it goes.

You can
follow more on Felix’s blog –


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