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Tess’ First Day

by Toiny Westberry on 11 September 2013
in Adventures in Germany,Personal Notes,Tessa Pin this scrappy stuff!

Yesterday is a blur. It was Tess’ first day in secondary school.  Unlike American school with elementary, middle & high school, German schools have Grundschule (elementary school) and secondary school.  There are 3-4 different types of secondary schools, and honestly I’m still learning the difference between each.  Tess started the Realschule, the middle-of-the road school amongst the different types.

The first day was for parents too, and we drove down our little mountain together.  Since we live in a very small village, the biggest out of the 7-8 villages hosts the Realschule.  Yesterday Tess got her reduced Fahrkarte that identifies her as a student & allows her to ride the local bus & train system.  There is already such a well-developed, complete, public transportation system that separate school busses are not needed.

We joined her class, the incoming 5th graders, in the Festhalle next to the school.  The principal, teachers & glee club welcomed us all.  After the speeches, and some Lady Gaga tunes, they brought out the sorting hat & sorted kids into four houses.  Oh.  Wait.  No.  No hat.  Just the principal & his list.  And no houses.  Just classes 5A, 5B, 5C & 5D.  Thankfully Tess was sorted into class 5C with all her friends.

Observant me followed the other 5C parents out the Festhalle, across the field, through a door, a long hallway, up some stairs, another long hallway, into a slightly dark & very crowded room, to find my daughter happily beaming at me from a chair. I got to stand behind her, wedged in with other parents, and work up  a sweat.  Her home room teacher explained a lot, handed out a lot of paperwork, including an insurance form.  Germans love insurance.

This particular form was to cover any damage at school.  There was also an option to insure jackets, shoes, clothing that was damaged or stolen from the hallways (it’s only 1 euro for the year); and an option to insure music instruments; and an option to insure bikes (necessary if you have an attractive bike, the teacher added).  I was thinking lockers might have been a better idea than insurance with 10 different options.

After classroom business we said goodbye to our big kids, and I again played lemming and followed the troops back to the festhalle.  The older grades had cake & coffee ready for us and I happily filled up with both, then turned around and realized it was my first day at the high school cafeteria all over again. I froze.  I didn’t recognize any of the parents, all four classes were there (and many kids had both parents, and a grandparent or two, there), and in a quiet panic I went and sat by myself at a lonely table.

I was lonely for less than a minute.  As the only American (and the only Dutch) woman there, most people know who I am.  It’s a little creepy, though this time very happily creepy.  All the Turkish mama’s came & sat with me, as they said, they know what it is like to be an Auslander (foreigner). It was a fantastic little hour, chatting with other moms just like me. I think I have a lot more Turkish in me than I do German.  The only bad part was that they love coffee.  Every two minutes, it seemed, one of them got up to get us all more coffee.  I’m a joiner. I drank at least six cups of coffee.  I think I’m still bouncing off the walls today.

Finally our kids came in, more talking, and the day was over.  Well, the day at school was over.  Armed with Tess’ supply list we headed over to the Müller to find things like a DIN A4 red, lined; DIN A4 blue, not-lined; DIN A4 red, double-thick graph paper, and on & on & on.  We spent over an hour staring at the different DIN A4 before moving on to the DIN A3 & deciphering what “dickies” are for Dane.
(for the record dickies are fat pencils, now we both know!)


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jodi Tucker-Watson 14 September 2013 at 8:56 am

Thanks for sharing this experience!! Sounds like you got through it pretty good and may have made some new friends yourself!


2 Angela 16 September 2013 at 6:29 am

Really enjoyed reading your account of Tess’ first day at Realschule. I ALWAYS have a chuckle about the German way of doing things – something I can probably only understand having lived there for the year. I am sorry I never made it down your way to meet you. Just too tricky with no car.


3 Toiny 16 September 2013 at 6:35 am

I’m sad about that too Angela! So close & yet so far. I am happy you got to live in this fantastic country for a year. It is so different from Australia, or the states.


4 LLinda 22 September 2013 at 7:08 pm

I so enjoy reading your personal blog notes about life in Deutschland. Having lived over there I can relate to so much of what you write about. You really hit close to home with the reference about which table to sit at and with which group. Talk about Deja vu!!


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