Sunday 26 August 2012

Einschulungstag - First Day for First Graders

This is the first day when Abecedarians are sent to schools to start their first formal education in Germany. Children are sent-off to their first day of classes with colorful Schultüte (school cones) accompanied by excited parents, grandparents and relatives or friends of the families. Schools try to cheer up the new arrivals by holding small welcome programs with songs, dances and theater pieces participated by other kids in higher grades. 
Below is short explanation of the German education system as posted in wikipedia.
First Grader with School Cone
The responsibility for the German education system lies primarily with the states (Länder) while the federal government plays only a minor role. Optional Kindergarten (nursery school) education is provided for all children between three and six years of age, after which school attendance is compulsory, in most cases for 11 to 12 years. The system varies throughout Germany because each state (Land) decides its own educational policies. Most children, however, first attend Grundschule from the age of six to ten or twelve.
A Multi-cultural Grade School
So heavy!
German secondary education  includes five types of school. The Gymnasium is designed to prepare pupils for university education and finishes with the final examination  Abitur, after grade 12 or 13. The Realschule  has a broader range of emphasis for intermediate pupils and finishes with the final examination Mittlere Reife,  after grade 10; the Hauptschule prepares pupils for vocational education and finishes with the final examination Hauptschulabschluss, after grade 9 or 10 and the Realschulabschluss after grade 10. There are two types of grade 10: one is the higher level called type 10b and the lower level is called type 10a; only the higher level type 10b can lead to the Realschule and this finishes with the final examination Mittlere Reife after grade 10b. This new path of achieving the Realschulabschluss at a vocationally oriented secondary school was changed by the statutory school regulations in 1981 - with a one-year qualifying period. During the one-year qualifying period of the change to the new regulations, pupils could continue with class 10 to fulfil the statutory period of education. After 1982, the new path was compulsory, as explained above. Other than this, there is the Gesamtschule, which combines the approaches. There are also Förderschulen/Sonderschulen. One in 21 pupils attends a Förderschule.  Nevertheless the Förderschulen/Sonderschulen can also lead, in special circumstances, to a Hauptschulabschluss of both type 10a or type 10b, the latter of which is the Realschulabschluss. Most German children only attend school in the morning. There are usually no provision for serving lunch. The amount of extracurricular activities is determined individually by each school and varies greatly.
Many of Germany's hundred or so institutions of higher learning charge little or no tuition by international comparison. Students usually must prove through examinations that they are qualified.
In order to enter university, students are, as a rule, required to have passed the Abitur examination; since 2009, however, those with a Meisterbrief (master craftman's diploma) have also been able to apply. Those wishing to attend a "university of applied sciences" must, as a rule, have Abitur, Fachhochschulreife, or a Meisterbrief. Lacking those qualifications, pupils are eligible to enter a university or university of applied sciences if they can present additional proof that they will be able to keep up with their fellow students through a Begabtenprüfung or Hochbegabtenstudium. A special system of apprenticeship called Duale Ausbildung allows pupils on vocational courses to do in-service training in a company as well as at a state school.

Two First Graders with Their Families

One father cheering up an anxious first grader
How many kilos to carry to school and back?
Watching the welcome program for them
The Welcome Committee Singing "All Children Are Learning How to Read"

It's a small, colorful, beautiful world we live in.
Oh-oh-oh, what are they singing?

A super school cone for a future footballer

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Ausflug nach Hamburg

Finally we found a common date for our first excursion but we didn’t realize it would be one of the hottest weekends recorded in Germany. Temperature was going as high as 38+° and so with our excitement. We agreed not to fight, not to have especial wishes and most of all to be tolerant to each other. One for all, all for one.
The train ride from Bonn to Hamburg took about four and half hours which we didn’t feel at all as we were busy finishing a bottle of sparkling wine, homemade cake, bought croissants and salted bagels, strawberries, plums, pieces of honey melons and samosas. One train employee selling coffee even willingly took some of our offered honey melons. We were not bothered anymore as they could see our compartment was turning into an instant dining room. Some women travelers passing by our compartment were giving us the thumb-ups. For the bottle of sparkling wine early morning? Enjoy the photos!


 Heinrich Heine (1797-1850)
 How did she manage that?
 The new wave in city touring
 One shopping arcade near Jungfernstieg
 The "Maedels" in Alster
 Thank you for your appreciation
 Honouring the Beatles
 Cyclassics Tournament
 More ice cream to ignore the heat
 Hans Hummel-famous water carrier, a symbol of Hamburg

 Visiting the periphery

 Brunch the next day in SH
Mango Frappiato before taking the train back to Köln

Monday 20 August 2012

Circle of Friends

Why doI have a variety of friends?..
Why do I have a variety of friends who are all so different in character?  How can I get along with them all?  I think that each one helps to bring out a "different" part of me.

With one of them I am polite. With another, I joke. 

I sit down and talk about serious matters with one. 
With another I laugh a lot. 
I listen to one friend's problems. 
Then I listen to another one's advice for me.
My friends are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. 
When completed, they form a treasure box. 
A treasure of friends! 
They are my friends who understand me better than I understand myself.
They're friends who support me through good days and bad.

We all pray together and for each other.
Real Age doctors tell us that friends are good for our health. 

Dr. Oz calls them Vitamin F (for Friends) and counts the benefits of friends as essential to our well being. Research shows that people in strong social circles have less risk of depression and terminal strokes.If you enjoy Vitamin F constantly you can be up to 30 years younger than your real age. The warmth of friendship stops stress and even in your most intense moments, it decreases the chance of a cardiac arrest or stroke by 50%.

I'm so happy that I have a stock of Vitamin F!

In summary, we should value our friends and keep in touch with them. We should try to see the funny side of things and laugh together and pray for each other in the tough moments.
Thank you for being one of my Vitamins!
 One of my friends from this international circle of women friends sent me this email after we just spent our hot weekend in Hamburg on this summery month of August when temperature has gone as high as 38.9°. I tried to look for the source but it seems the article has gone viral in the internet and I can't find the original author. Whoever you are, thank you for this beautiful piece and my thanks also to my circle of beautiful friends and especially to our thoughtful Gastgeberin, Angela.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

What comes to your mind when I say Philippines?

Asking two young Germans what comes to their minds when 
I say Philippines, they wrote words, cluster of 
words which they associate with this 7,107 islands known as
Republic of the Philippines.
I must say they have been doing lots of reading
or getting information about the country.
Would be interesting to ask them again after their
stay and directly experience living in Wow Country,
and It's More Fun in the Philippines.

Monday 6 August 2012

Quotation from the Rum Diary

"Human beings are the only creatures on Earth who claim a God, and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one. Does the world belong to no one but you?" And when he said it, I was taken aback. Not because of who was doing the talking. Because I finally understood the connection between children scavenging for food, and shiny brass plates on the front doors of banks."
Paul Kemp (The Rum Diary)

Starring Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Michael Rispoli, Richard Jenkins, Giovanni Ribisi, Aaron Echardt based on the novel by Hunter S. Thompson and screenplay by Bruce Robinson