Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer School, the Geffrye Museum and More!

It has been quite a whirlwind of a week! After returning from Paris, we started summer school straight away and we were so busy that the weekend came before I knew it and I hadn't updated anything on our first trip!

ICS is very unique in that right after the mainstream school ends for the year, summer school begins straight away. Which meant a lot of boxing things up and preparing for summer school. It all went very well because come Monday morning, we were all set and ready to begin. Summer school is mainly used for teaching English to non native speakers. The kids that come to our summer school are from places like Russia, Italy, Brazil and so on. They are all with us to learn the language. In order to help that, the first thing we did when they arrived was give them a little language test to see what level of English they understood. I felt bad for most of the kids because it must have been a bit daunting to be given a test in a foreign language as soon as you get to school. But we tried to talk with them as well which proved much better than a written test what level of English they understood. We split them into classes based on their level and began the day with an introductory assembly.

I was placed in the 7-8 Advanced class. I worked with another teacher and we had six students. They were wonderful kids, we had two from Brazil, two from Kuwait, one from Saudi Arabia and one from Thailand. The first day was pretty hectic with everyone including the staff getting to know the ropes of how the school would work, but we made it through! On Tuesday we went to the Geffrey Museum. I'd never heard of the museum so I did a little research before hand. The Geffrey museum focuses on the history of homes and gardens in England. When you walk through it, there are examples of how people lived in different time periods. They begin in the 1600's and their most current room is based in the 1990's. It didn't sound like much for the kids, but they learned quite a bit. We didn't stop at every room, we instead had two sessions taking place in a Victorian era house and the one based in the 1990's. It was quite fun to talk with the other teachers while looking at the one from the 90's and remembering things like VCRs, older cell phones and other similar things. The kids of course thought all of it was so old and weird! We learned
that in the 90's, apartments began being built in the loft style to save space. We also saw that the design style was also very clean and simple. The Victorian style home was very elegant. We learned about how the flower pattern was very prevalent, and how instead of electricity they used candles, gas lamps and oil lamps for light. We also saw a very interesting contraption that the children just loved that was once used to toast bread by the fire! We ended the trip by letting the kids run around in the gardens which were beautiful before getting them back on the bus.  

The theme of the week was "My Country Your Country" so as a little project to learn about each other's country, we made posters! Cara the classroom teacher and I each made one to show we were from America. We had an American flag in the middle and then put landforms (another one of our topics) typical to where we lived as well as food, hobbies, weather and other things that we liked about where we were from. Cara is from Boston so ours were very different! It was a fun way to see what the kids like about where they come from. We all got to share and speak a little about our countries. I tried to explain biscuits to them, but they just told me that the picture I put on my poster was of a scone and that biscuits are cookies! I had to give up trying to explain it to them! The poster making taught us all so much about each other and was a really enjoyable activity for them throughout the week.

My work week ended on Thursday as Taylor and I headed out to Amsterdam that night! We took a train to the airport right after work and got to Amsterdam around 10pm that night. It was not easy getting from the airport to the hostel, but we made it work! Friday morning we got up and made it the Heineken Experience by 11am when they opened. It was perfect because we didn't have to wait in the massive lines I saw later that day. I've done the tour before, but as I now have a better appreciation for the beer, I enjoyed it much more. We learned a lot and had so much fun talking to the staff and using all the interactive bits of the tour. There is one room where you can be the DJ and play a game and there are videos everywhere. And of course, we ended up in the bar at the end happy to sit down and enjoy our beer!

After the Heineken Experience we went to a quick lunch and then made our way to the Anne Frank House. On the way, we found the Amsterdam Dungeon. While it's obviously made out to be a really
touristy thing, we couldn't help but pop in to see what it was like. It was scary and quite funny. We got to walk through and learn a little about the history of how they dealt with criminals in different eras. They pick on people in the group and poor Taylor got put in a cage and put on trial for which-craft! It was a fun little stop, but when we were done we continued on our way to the Anne Frank house. You can't really put that experience into words. I had chills most of the time. The house has obviously been renovated but remains unfurnished. Otto Frank wanted it that way, but with his help they have made a model of what it looked like at the time that the Frank family was in hiding. Standing in the room where they lived with the pictures Anne put on the walls just gives you a heavy feeling. The whole time you walk through the house, the people are basically silent. It's clear that no one can understand why there was a time where hiding spots like these where necessary. Throughout the entire museum there are quotes from Anne's diary on the wall. I remember when I read the diary, I thought how profound her words were for someone of her age. They are made even more so when put on the walls of the secret annex.

We went on a canal tour that evening and saw some of the sights of Amsterdam by boat. In my opinion, you can't go to Amsterdam without doing one if you haven't before because some of the sights are beautiful and since the city is so centered around the canals, it's a good way to learn about it. We stopped at a pasta place on the way home for dinner and then called it a night. We walked so much!

On Saturday we did a two hour bike tour! I have to say, I enjoyed this tour so much! Everyone who lives in Amsterdam travels by bike so being able to just bike around such a beautiful city was fantastic. I've always been a little nervous around the bikes because they do not stop for you if you're walking! But by the end of the tour I was getting annoyed when people weren't following biking rules that I hadn't known two hours earlier! We had a fun morning. The rest of the day was spent really just walking around little shops and buying some souvenirs. We had signed up for a pub crawl that night so we went and had a really fun time. We met some really cool people from Dublin, Canada, Ukraine and I even ran into some fellow Carolina Panthers fans from Charlotte!

Sunday was the day we left so we didn't do too much. We went and found the classic I amsterdam sign and visited the Van Gogh museum before heading home to London.

I have to say, these weekend trips have been fantastic but I can't help but smile every time we return to London. It really does feel like home!


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