I have recently moved to Cologne in the North West of Germany for the second part of my year abroad to take part in the British Council Assistantship scheme. I am based in a little town called Zülpich, working in a Gymnasium (a German grammar school). I only work twelve hours a week there to support English lessons/teach English lessons. I had heard mixed opinions from previous students about undertaking an assistantship placement organised by the British Council and it seems that each person has their own very different personal experience in their own school. For me the British Council has provided an extremely strong professional and personal support system for this placement, and I couldn’t recommend it enough from my experience so far.
My first experience of my year abroad in Germany was at the assistants’ training course at a hotel just outside of the city of Cologne.
After getting comfortable, speaking English with the other assistants and venting all of our year abroad worries, we returned to reality after three days to the city of Cologne where I would be spending the next 6 months.
I was always told that the first week of moving somewhere new on your year abroad will be the worst week of your life. I didn’t believe this. I’m quite a positive person.
Luckily it wasn’t the worst week of my life, but it certainly was a struggle.
For my arrival in Cologne I had booked a five day stay in a hostel before I could move into my new flat – a room with eight other girls in the centre of Cologne, it’ll be an experience I thought… And certainly it was. After sharing an eight bed room in a hostel for six days I was extremely glad to move into my new flat 🙂
Apart from the noise and the lack of space and sleep, I had a wonderful stay in the hostel for a little less than a week, which also gave you free tea and pasta!! (I mean, what more could you want?)
And then after getting past the mountains of university paperwork, work-related paperwork, bank application paperwork and accommodation complications I was a registered, working inhabitant of Cologne .
One thing that has really made my experience in Germany so far has been my flat share. The word used for this in Germany is WG (Wohngemeinschaft) where its literal meaning is “living community”. I live with 3 Germans and a Spaniard and I could not be sharing with nicer people. One piece of advice that I was given before my year abroad was to live with native speakers. This has been the deal breaker for me and the reason why I feel my German speaking so far is improving exponentially.