Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm innocent!

I am keeping a mental list of things I want to blog about. Things that I think would be fun to share such as; coaching soccer, playing soccer on a German team, an update on my book, my upcoming summer opportunities. But there are so many one-time events that happen here, I feel it is best to blog about those when they happen. When I do that, one more post gets put up without chipping away at 'the list.' But... I'm absolutely fine with that.
One of the unique events happened this past Sunday. I was really excited and encouraged to be a part of a dorm's "Murder Mystery Dinner." A group of seven different staff members were asked to be a character in the dinner. We each came with a packet of information about our particular character, giving us the lines to read, and the answers to give the students when they posed certain questions. My character was named, Bronzie, and I was a suave, rich Italian kid from the 1950's. So you can see from the above pictures I tried to dress and act the part.
The thing I truly enjoyed about the evening was the opportunity it gave me to be goofy with the students. In the dorm I was daily interacting with 20-25 students and they saw me in every aspect of life. However, now I am interacting with 90-100 students and seeing them sporadically, and on a more professional level. With the sometimes infrequent meetings I have with students and professionalism of those meetings - the students don't necessarily know I have a goofy side.
But with the "Murder Mystery Dinner" I was given the opportunity to act as goofy as I wanted. As a part of the plot the students had to play against me in Mario Kart, a racing game for Wii. I had a blast racing against them, jumping up and down, trash-talking, and having fun with it. IF they beat me, I had to reveal information. When they lost, they had to race me again until they beat me! As competitive as I am, I didn't always simply let them win, they had to earn it. But when it came time to answer the questions, I did. Which proved to be another time to be entertaining and light-hearted.
A not so secret, secret: I am terrible at impersonating accents. I tried to talk with an Italian accent, and my accent went from Italy, to India, to Ireland, to Texas. But I tried! And as I did, the students laughed with me, and at me. Both absolutely okay by me.
It was refreshing and enjoyable to hang out with the students on this level and for them to laugh with/at me. I think a few are used to seeing me in a collared shirt and khakis, not a white shirt with an enormous amount of gel in my hair (that was a pain to do, and get out!)
Overall it was a truly enjoyable evening. And to top it off...the jury found me innocent!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Homemade tortillas!

On Monday morning I went to my office and before the first bell of the day rung, I had a surprise waiting for me. A student came into my office and was simply shooting the breeze and then all of a sudden said, "So is it cool if I get a group of friends to come to your place for dinner tonight?" We had talked about getting a group together before, but had never found a day that worked for everyone. However that particular day seemed to work, so we made it happen.
In one sense I was a bit taken back by a student who pretty much invited a group of friends over - but at the same time I wasn't mad, frustrated, or even annoyed in fact, I was delighted. I was really happy that students feel comfortable enough to invite themselves over for dinner. It is definitely unique to our school that students have dinner at the house of their teachers, coaches, and school staff, but I think it is amazing. The fact that the students felt comfortable and confident enough to do that, meant a lot.
After the invitation was accepted, we took the next few minutes and planned the menu. This was not going to be a last minute, throw something in the oven quickly dinner. It was going to be a feast, and a feast it was!
The main dish was burritos, but a burrito is not a true burrito without a plethora of toppings and options. You want chicken? We got chicken. Prefer ground beef? On the table. Sour cream, check. Refried beans? Hard to find here in Germany, but they were on the table. Cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, spicy rice, guacamole, sauteed peppers? Get it, got it, good! Of course there was salsa, but we didn't settle for the German style of salsa, we made our own home-made salsa, and it was dee lish!

But, a burrito is only as good as the tortilla you place it in. While all the toppings may be excellent, a flaky and nasty tortilla ruins the whole experience. So... we made our own homemade tortillas. Let me just say, they were the best tortillas I have ever had! It was truly a masterpiece.
Yet I must admit that I was a bit surprised by the amount of food these students put down! After I ate two ginormous burritos I was full. I had eaten more than I needed to and was very content. The three students combined to eat 11 burritos! Look at the pictures, these are not big students, they're small, yet every single one ate more than I did! Impressive.

Of course, while the food was amazing, the company and time spent together is what made the night so great. The group came over around 6.00 and we spent the next 90 minutes together in the kitchen preparing everything. We were laughing while cooking, attempting to sing, and having a good time. Then, we spent at least an hour at the table eating and talking. Conversing about plans for next year - getting caught up on the sports teams, talking about different homework assignments. Following this, we played card games for another 45 minutes, with hilarious conversation flowing in between rounds.
Overall a truly phenomenal evening.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Es ist kalt.

I am not sure what the recent headlines in the papers have been talking about where you are from, but over here everyone is talking about the weather. Why? Because it is so cold here! Temperatures here have been uncharacteristically frigid.

For about the past ten days we have been bundling up as temperatures dip into the single digits, and below. Over the past weekend we experienced temps as low as -22 Celsius, which is around -8 Fahrenheit. For a few days in a row we were either below zero Fahrenheit, or just slightly above. Yesterday I checked the temperature on my computer before heading out and got excited because it was only -4C (22F). In looking at the days ahead, it is supposed to hover around the mid to upper 20s, which comparatively speaking, will feel like a heat wave! For some strange reason within the past two weeks we have had three unexpected fire drills. These drills force everyone outside for anywhere from 10-20 minutes - which is never enjoyable. Following one of the drills I heated up a mug of hot tea. I strongly dislike the taste of tea, but simply needed something warm to wrap my hands around, as the drill went off on one of the days where our heat wasn't working.

While it can be a little entertaining to poke fun at how cold it has been, there have been some pretty serious situations. Across Europe reports are that over 200 people have died because of the cold weather. Many of our dorms are having issues with eating, pipes freezing, and vehicles refusing to start. To start the week the heat in our school was not working properly, so students were allowed and encouraged to wear their jackets to class to stay warm. Thankfully the worst seems to be behind us, but it is definitely still pretty cold.

I spent a few minutes looking at some pictures of Europe that help show the weather we have been having. I did not take either picture but thought they were both neat.

Below you will see a picture from Rome, where they are experiencing their first snowfall in 26 years. I absolutely love the coliseum and thought 26 years without snow was quite a record to break, so this picture was fitting.

Additionally, here is a picture of a German church. The way in which the snow seems to be absolutely frozen to the church depicts the frigid temperatures we have been having.

Stay warm!

Thursday, February 2, 2012