My flight left Berlin-Schönefeld airport early today. My route was via London and Dublin to Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport. The lady of my host family met me there. Early today my father sent a photo of me by E-mail to my host family so we could recognise each other. All that I knew was that she would have a copy of the Stern magazine with her. Because Liverpool is a small airport, we recognised each other at once. I will stay with this family until Saturday and then I will go to the other host family. I will stay with the Campbells for the first few days because the McMullens are on holiday at the moment. However, the McMullens have better contacts to my school here in Halton so I'll be staying with them for the first five weeks.
Today I went for a walk with Mrs. Campbell. We went to “Pex Hill” which is not so far away from their home, to see the countryside. From there you have a wonderful view over Halton.
First of all I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate my father on his birthday.
Today I'll go to the McMullens. There’s not much I can say yet because I have just got up.
I am now with the McMullens, who also impress me very much. They are another really friendly family and I have a wonderful room from which I can see the beautiful Victoria Park. My room is very upper-class with nice curtains and a bed with frills...
I also have my own washbasin in my room.
Today Ian Campbell (my other host) came and brought me a desk, which we immediately assembled.
I have survived my first day at school ... and am already looking forward to the next one.
Mrs. McMullen brought me to school today and “handed me over” to the headmaster. He took me to the German teacher, who then showed me round the school. Her second lesson was a “cover lesson” and I accompanied her. During this lesson I talked to her for a short time and we cleared up some administrative matters. Tomorrow I'll get my timetable and I’ll try all the subjects (at least to begin with), and I can decide at any time which subject I want to choose.
At school a lot of students who I didn't even know me said “Hi Rico, how are you?” Even the teachers spoke to me when they saw me (both in class and in the grounds). One might think it was because I didn’t have a uniform, but in the sixth form nobody wears school uniform. On the other hand I cannot believe that the teachers know all the 1500 students so well that they know I’m the “new boy”. What surprised me most of all is that even much younger pupils, who aren't in my year, spoke to me in the yard after only my first hour. I think that’s because before I arrived there where a lot of posters with my photo throughout the school, saying “This is the new boy from Berlin” *lol*.
So everybody is extremely friendly to me and I feel good.
There really are large numbers of students in the German and French classes. In the German class (except for me) there are only 3 girls and one boy and in the French class only 5 girls. In the French lesson I was almost the only one who spoke, and did so for the whole lesson *lol* (in French of course).
The school day here is like this: at 08:50 everybody goes to the classroom and the class teacher does the registration. Then we all go into our first lessons, which start at 09:05. One lesson here lasts for 60 minutes, so the second lesson starts at 10:05. The first question I asked was how are we supposed to move from one room to another in 0 minutes for the next class? There’s no bell, and when the students think that they need to go to the next lesson, they just go. You are only late if you arrive more than 10 minutes late. After the second lesson there is a short break of 15 minutes, after which there are another two lessons. Then there is a one hour lunch break. Before starting the last two lessons you go to the form room for a second registration and to discuss any organisational matters. School finishes at about half past three and you can go home.
I am starting to ask myself why in Berlin I still have lessons until Lesson 6 on Wednesday (or until Lesson 8 with school website club). In France everyone finishes after the fourth lesson and in England after the third lesson. Even the third lesson is R.E. for everyone, and it’s not “proper” teaching. Today three of our R.E. group (including me) went shopping with the teacher. We bought some cloth and special textile glue because some artwork was planned for the next lesson. However, I then stayed at school till the normal end of the sixth lesson and talked to some other people in my year.
This will make you laugh, but today I noticed that what I wrote on Monday was not all correct. We don't have six lessons each day, we only have five. So the first break is after the second lesson, and the one hour lunch break is after the third lesson. Then there are another two lessons and that’s all. My classmates have only three or four different subjects until A-level exams. However, because the teaching is very relaxed, you don't learn a lot in one lesson. Perhaps this is the reason why they have about seven lessons per week per subject. Perhaps it would be better to do my A-level in England. Then I can concentrate entirely on these three subjects. In French I am better than the others. If I choose German that should also be easy, and if I also take Physics I have my three compulsory subjects. As a fourth subject I can choose Mathematics and my A-level would certainly be much better than in Germany. All I have to do is to stay slightly longer here in England to gain a better understanding, but I'm sure I can manage that ;-).
As you can see, I haven’t written very much in the last few days. I also noticed that I had forgotten a few things. Every Monday I go with the lady of my other host family (the Campbells) to a choir. On Tuesday 13.01.2004, five German speakers came to the Campbells and everyone spoke German that evening. They meet together once a month to improve or refresh their German. The “Stammtisch of the Friends of the Goethe Institute, Manchester” was on Tuesday 20.01.2004. There used to be a Goethe Institute in Manchester which was partly closed down, but they couldn't leave the building because the contract continued for several years. Some of the “surviving” members of the Goethe Institute founded the “Friends of the Goethe Institute, Manchester”. They still work to some extent in the building of the old institute and among other things they offer German lessons there. The “Stammtisch” is a meeting that takes place once or twice a month in a bar. Anyone who wants to can come and everybody speaks German. So I speak German (nearly) all the time ;-)
Today I went with my host Ian (Campbell) in the “Catalyst” Museum here in Widnes. This museum shows the history of the chemical industry in this town. From the top floor you have a good view over the town. The weather at that time was great but some hours later it was cloudy and rained again.
The Chinese New Year began last week. I think it’s now the year of the monkey. There is a Chinatown in Liverpool and a big ceremony took place there to celebrate the New Year. I went there with my host family (the Campbells) and we watched the dragon dances. There were also professional “pyrotechnicians” who fired a lot of Chinese crackers. These were professional crackers that you certainly can’t buy in the shops. These crackers were in long chains and they were set off in a special safety cage at many different places. They made an enormous amount of smoke and I think they must be something like dragon crackers because they were just bangers making a lot of smoke rather than rockets etc.
After that we went to both cathedrals. One of them is built in the old Gothic style but the other cathedral is built in an entirely new style. Unfortunately it is too difficult to describe the cathedrals so here are some pictures. The older one is the fifth largest cathedral in the world and celebrates its centenary this year.
Here some pictures of the cathedrals.
It didn’t rain today! The temperature was just above zero, so there was severe hail. However, because it was above zero, the hail turned into a mixture of water and ice (slush), but later it fell as real snow instead of hail. Some years there’s not much of it in this part of England, so an enormous snowball (or rather slushball) fight began at once. Of course, after a few successful hits by the “little ones”, we Sixth Form students joined in and returned fire enthusiastically. Snow is nothing special in Berlin, but sometimes it’s quite scarce here. So everybody took full advantage of it.
I have been back with the McMullens again since yesterday (Tuesday) evening.
Yesterday I was with Elisabeth and Ian (Campbell) at a French meeting of the Institute of Linguists in Poynton near Manchester. The meeting was at the house of one of the members and we celebrated a belated “Fête des Rois”. A bean was hidden in one of the French cakes. Whoever gets this bean in their piece of cake is king for the evening. It was in my piece, so now I’ve become a member of the Royal Society ;-).
There was a lot of conversation in French and it was really interesting. Beforehand we (Elisabeth, Ian and me) visited some friends of my host family. They have a very beautiful big house not so far from the house where the celebration took place. We drank a cup of tea at the friend’s house and than we went to the French meeting.
The video conference with France, which I was looking forward to, was a complete failure. The French school phoned our school this morning and cancelled the conference without giving any reasons. Even our French teacher doesn’t know whether it will take place on some other day or whether it has been completely cancelled. However, the teacher and I were the only ones who regretted it. The others in our French class were relieved because they were terrified of it and thought they wouldn't understand anything. I'm really sad about it because you don't get the chance to have a French videoconference very often. I hope we can do the conference again later.
I didn’t go to school today or yesterday. Because the holiday doesn’t start until next week, I thought it would be a good idea to pretend I'm ill. So I took a couple of red felt-tip pens and painted lots of red dots all over my body. It looks rather amusing, because I also painted them on the palms and backs of my hands. I left out my face (and teeth *lol*). Yesterday John (McMullen) drove me to the doctor, who said that it must be a viral infection but he didn’t think it was contagious. However, he said it would be better to stay at home on Friday (today) and not to return to school until Monday. These funny spots really don’t bother me and I don't feel sick at all. It just looks rather strange ;-). It only hurts my hands when I have to grip something tightly, but that’s all.
Today it's Shannon's birthday. She's the grandchild of my hostfamily (McMullens). In some minutes they will come some of her friends to celebrate here because she live in Runcorn, on the other side of the river and her friends are like her at saints Peter&Paul school here in Widnes. So it's easier to celebrate at ther grandparents because they live only 5 minutes next to the school. Shannon and her brother come every morning befor school and after school to ther grandparents and it's everytimes "full house". The McMullens is a big family and so everytimes someone come to visit them (sometimes only for a few minutes).
Tomorrow they make fotos of the sixth form students at school because we will get an ID. Since January there is a new head teacher and so there are also some changes. One of them is the security, because in the sixth form nobody wear a uniform. So everybody else can go though the school without someone notice it. This is the reason why the teachers and the sixth form students get there security cards. The teacher still have there cards (since this week) and we will get our ID after the holidays. For me it will be much easier because I only have to look at the ID's and I know with who I speak, because I cannot remember all the names.
I just came back from jogging in the park opposite of the house where I'am at the moment. In school today was the photoshooting and of cause my name wasn't on the list. So I had to write my name on the list myself, because they didn't know how to write my name.
Because it's the week befor valentinsday you can give away plastic roses. You only have to fill in a little sheet of paper where you write to name for who the rose is, the form and a short text. If you want of cause also your name. A teacher will distribute the roses and they cost 50p. When I right understood the money goes to an organisation. The sheet of paper you fill in hang then of cause on the rose.
I'm sure that the reason why I didn't got a rose yet, is because they don't know how to write my name or don't know in which form I am ;-).
Now I have a lot to write. Yesterday I was in a pub where Daves band (one from "my" school) played. It was a competition and so there was also an other band. The winner will go into the next round. On Monday they will know who won. Of cause there were a lot of stundens of "my" school and it was realy good. It was only a little bit too loud and so it was nearly impossible to talk. At school in mediastudies they have to make a film. So we got one of 6 cameras (digital and the newest standard) to film the gig of Daves band. I don't think that someone is able to use this film cause it's more a fun-video. They made a lot of jokes and so on. After the concert nobody wanted to take the camera with him so I took it with me. The good effect is that I could saw the film and I was realy surprised how good the quality of the film is. I thought that you can't hear anything cause it was so loud and so many basses. Today befor the lessons started a teacher distributed the last roses. I was realy surprised that there were also a rose for me. So I had to find out who the "secret Admirer" is. Now I know it. It wasn't a girl. They where two girls! ;-) They are in my year and they wanted to give me a "souvenir". I know that it's "just for fun". What I can do with a girlfiend (or better two *lol*) in England when I'm here only for such a short time.
Some minutes ago Shannon, went by car to Liverpool with eight friends to celebrate her birthday again. For nine people you cannot use a nomal car. So they rent a stretch-limousine. The stretch-limo is about 34 feet (10 Meter) long and cost 40.000₤ (56.000€). To rent this "car" you have to pay 90₤ (130€) per hour. They rent the limo for four hours. The destination is Liverpool where Shannons onkle has a hous where they all sleep. In the stretch-limo is a minibar, music, and a lot of other little things. Inside the limo is space for about ten persons. My hostfamily told me that nowadays it's usual that the kids have a stretch-limousine for their birthday. This is also an appeal for my parents ;-)
This evening I'll go to a bithdayparty. Two of my school are 18 today and celebrate in a club. They also invited me to came and I'm sure that I'll meet there te most part of pur sixth form college ;-).
Tomorrow I'll go to Chester with the Campbells and on Sunday to Martin (the son of the Campbells), who lives in Suffolk, about 80 Miles in the south of Cambridge. There we'll stay for three days.
This must be enought for today cause I also have to translate all into English ;-)
Last Saturday I was with the Campbells in Chester. It's realy an interesting city and I saw a lot of it.
Sunday we went to Martin to Suffolk. They have a big house and a also a big pice of land (about 8 acre). There is also a site in the Internet www.placefarm.com. They have two paddock for horses, but because they don't have horses they rent it. They have chickens, a guinea-pig, a rabbit, a lot of birds and because they have also a bit of forest sometimes deer.
The house is also very big and in pink because it's typical for this area. The house is more then 400 years old, and so it's a realy interesting building. The only disadvantage for me is that it's very low. After some dozen head pushes I learn that I have to be carefull when I go through a door. I hope that I didn't damage to many doors ;-)
Elisabeth showed me on Monday Cambridge and we visited many colleges. In the evening there was a concert in the "Kings College Chappel" and of cause we went there. The Kings Colleges choir is one of the bests and also the chappel is a very interesting building. On Wednesday we went back to Widnes but befor we went to Coventry to see the cathedral. Coventry is twinned with Dresden because both cities where extremly damaged in the second wold war.
Now I stay again with the McMullens because Elisabeth goes to Bangkok for a couple of days. In one week on Saturday I'll go back to the Campbells and then I they with them till "the end".
Today is the 29th February. We get this extra day only every four years. So I uses the "given" time to update my website. Last Thursday we got our "Security ID's" at school. Now we have to wear them so that everybody can see it well.
Yesterday I was with the Campbells in Manchester where we heard a lecture about positive and negative effects of subtitling and where the problems are. It was a meeting of the "Institute of Linguist" and it was in an extra room in a bar next to the "Rain Bar" where the meetings of the "Friend of the Goethe-Institut Manchester" are. We had our privat buffet and it was very delicious.
I just finished helping my hostparents for a translation for computerwords into German and now I'll do my homeworks.
It's now the last month of my stay in England. Now I also have in german version of the guestbook in german and I'll try to keep the guestbooks synchron. If there is a new comment in one of the guestbooks I'll add it (the translation) into the other guestbook.
Yesteray I was in the Municipal Building at the meeting of the "twinning town accociation". I'll write a report for the next newsletter and perhaps a newspaper will make an interview with me.
At the moment I try to add a counter to my website to see how offen someone visit my page. So don't wonder about possible changes on my site. I tried to add the counter befor but I only had a lot of problems. So it would be possible that the site will be sometimes not online. I hope it will work.
The time goes on faster and faster now. I have only two weeks left here at school.
Last weekend I saw again a lot. On Saturday the Campbells showed me the "Lady Lever Art Gallery" in Port Sunlight. It's a collection of a millionaire and the building in which the exhibitions was build by this millionaire only for his collection. There you can see every different kinds of art. E.g. Pictures, carpets, furnitures and beds, and so on.
On Sunday we were in a concert of a stringquartett and one woman of the musicians slept in the Campbells house. I thought it would be the best to sleep at the McMullens for tis night so the Campbells don't have to prepare an other room. And I could slept also 15 minutes longer :p
After the concert all the musicians came to to Campbells for meal and after it they went to their hosts.
I just came back from the McMullens where I had an interview by the Widnes World (a free newspaper). I actually it was an interview by a reporter of the newspaper :p and because the photograph wanted to have a picture with both hostfamilies the Campbells where also there.
I wonder what she will write because she interviewed me more than one hour and she cannot write more that 250 words. Because this newspaper is free everybody will get it and it will show the positive effects of the twinningtown association. Ofter the people only know that the mayor goes to the twintowns and widnes has to pay for it. They don't know what they organise.
I'm just back from the "Catalyst" museum. There
was a conferenz about the new development of the museum. Tomorrow there will be
a decision whether they get £1,8 millions from sponsors or not. If they get the
money they will become a realy high modern museum with the newest technologies.
There will be high modern computersimulations and virtuel laboratories but also
a new kind of 3D presentations. There will be also labs which school could use
and with a broadband internet access they could make videoconferences with
schools or universities in the whole world. They could do experiments in the
labs and other schools would see it on the screens.
If they don't get the money tomorrow they probably have to close.
Friday I went first to the Appelton Pub, where "The Beacon" played three quater of an hour. Here in England you have to be 18 to drink alcohol (in Germany 16) and so the man at the door wanted me to show my ID. I explained him, that I don't have my ID with me because when I loose it it will be very difficult to go back to Germany. Then he let me in and some minutes later to told me that he worked a long time in Germany in (Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, ...) as bricklayer. Often they look only bad but are very friendly when you talk to them.
After it we went with eight persons in a five seat car to the "Vue Bar". The girl who drove didn't drink any anlcohol (which was very important for me) and drove very carfully. It was funny cause one had to go into the boot but I think it was the most comfortable place in the car. On the back seats where three of us and one laied on the legs of us three. On the left front seat there where also two and it was difficult for the driver to change the gears. We left the bar at about half past one.
Saturday Ian showed me the Matrime Museum in Liverpool. There are a couple of very interessting exhibitions about slaves, custons and excise, second worldwar, commercial shipping and old sailers.
Saturday night was the next party in the Wids-club where Donna, a student in year 13, celebrated her birthday.
Of cause I knew a lot from school.
I had to find out that Widnes a a little village and everybody knows everybody. On the party I saw a mate of Shannon who I saw a couple of times at the McMullens. I was a bit confused and asked her what she is doing here and she answerd that she is the cousin of the best friend of Donna. So I had to be careful that she wouldn't see how much I drunk :p
But I always knew that Widnes is all one family :p
At this evening I also went to bed very late and the next day Edmond and Dorothy Scriven invited me for meal. Edmond is the editor of the newsletter of the twinning town association but both of them speak very well German and of cause English.
First of all we went to a resautant outside Widnes called "Hungry Horse" and even for the hungrieest hors there will be enought to eat. There are very big portions on oval 45cm large plates.
After it we went for a walk for about one hour and then we went to their home. There we ate dinner and discussed the last point of the report I'll write for the newsletter. That was the main idea of the invitation.
It was a very nice day and I'll say thank you very much again.
Now I'll call my mother for her birthday and then I'll go to the choir.
I have again a lot to tell but not realy time. My formteacher showed me last weekend Wales. On Friday we (Mrs. and Mr. Aldcroft and their daughter) went for a walk. On Sunday we went further west to the coast where we visited also some castles. Wales is famous for their castles. Sunday the Campbells took me to some friends where I also had to solve a computerproblem. He got a mail with a virus and his anti-virus program told him that it deleted the virus but he couldn't delete the message. After a couple of tries I got it but it was a realy difficult problem. Now the computer is cleaned (addition for my father: No, I only deleted the message and not the whole disk! *lol*). Monday I went again to the choir where the representative of the bass voices gave me a little present form the choir. It's a glass with the Widnes-Runcorn Bridge and a bookmark with the bridge. I couldn't get a better souvenir.
On Friday was officialy my last day at school and I baked four big cakes for my mates (three for the students and one for the teachers). For the cake I had to go shopping twice cause after half of the cakes where ready I had no more suggar. So I went again to the shop for buying suggar. After the cakes were ready I remembered that I also wanted to buy some flowers. So I went a third time lol.
Friday I went to school a bit earlier to give the flowers to the secretary because she organised everything at school for me. At this time there was no headteacher because the old one retired in summer and the new one started in January. After it I gave some flowers to my formteacher to thank her for beeing in her class and of cause that she showed me Wales. Befor regestration the head of the sixth form college had a little speech and I had to go to him to get my certificate (which is in a very nice frame). Than he said I would have prepared a german speech and in this moment I was a little bit confused. So I said I better talk in english otherwise only the germantecher would understand. I thanked everbody for beeing so kind to me and that I had the possibility to join this college.
In the night I went with my friend to the Derby but I had to go after one hour to spend some time with my hostfamily. It was difficult to go because my mates didn't want me to go *lol*
On Saturday (yesterday) I went to the McMullens where they prepared a little farewell party. Fortunately I heard the day befor that it's also Cecilias, my hostmother (McMullen), birthday. So I could have bought some flowers and a birthday card. I saw again all the children and grandchildren so I could have said good-bye. The worst was with Olivia because she weeped the whole time and she didn't want me to go back to Berlin. That was realy sad. In the end I carried her to the car otherwise she wouldn't have leaved.
Tomorrow I'll go back to school during the break to say good-bye to everybody and after it I'll go to the municipal building where Mr. Stevens works to say thank you because he's the one who organised everything for me.
At the moment I’m in the plane on the way from Dublin to London and write a little bit for my website. In Liverpool I had a lots of trouble because of my baggage. First of all John (McMullen) only let me out at the airport and drove back, because he had other things to do.
At the terminal where the first problems. The woman at the Check-In told me that my baggage is to havy and I have to pay more, but I had no Pounds left. Of cause she also check my handbaggage and that was also much too havy. I tried everything but there was no way to go thought is without paying. She told me otherwise I have to leave a bag at the airport. Of cause I couldn’t do it. So I found my last 50€ but it was not enough. I had to pay the double of it, but first of all she wanted me to change the money. Properbly because it was very late she took the 25£ (the 50€ incl. fee of changing) and let me go but I had to check in also one of my handbaggages and put out the fragil things. Of cause I was realy glad but I’ll have the same problems at the next two airports. When I finished with everything it was 5 minuits after the normal closing time of this terminal. So I was realy glad that everything was all right because I couldn’t have left a bag there because John was already at home.
In Dublin there where much more friendly. The woman told me I would have to pay for four kilo more, but I told her, that I have no maney left. She only smiled, said I would be a poor boy an I did not have to pay. I hope it will be the same in London.
So now I in the plane to Berlin. I had no problems there. I was realy surprised that she did not tell anything about the 5 kilo more in my suitcase, but she wanted to check the weight of my handgabbage. I hide the laptop and the other bag weighted 13 kilo. She said it’s much too havy for the handbaggage and I would have to check it in. I only took out the fragil things and she checked it in without saying anything about paying. So everything was allright and expcept in Liverpool there where all very tolerant.