Why Children Make the Best Teachers

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Hello friends, thanks for stopping by! As you may have inferred from this post, I have a love/hate relationship with the German language. In the big picture, I have no doubt German is the language for me, and that my goal to be bilingual is worth while. But in the smaller picture, I often get hung up on the daily frustrations and struggles of learning a foreign language. I have a habit of setting high, somewhat unrealistic goals for myself, such as being fluent by the end of the summer. And when I don’t meet those goals, I feel like a total failure. For instance, the other day I accidentally asked someone if they were pregnant, when I really meant to ask if they were a twin (the words are so similar!), and then I accidentally bought sour creme at the grocery store instead of yoghurt (again, the words are so similar!). I get so annoyed with myself, and start to think, If I can’t even do this right, I will never be fluent...maybe I am hopeless after all! It’s a downward cycle. I spent the first three weeks in Hildesheim living with a newly wed couple. We had an amazing time together, but I felt extremely discouraged in the language department. It seemed as though I’d reached a plateau. I’d taken three semesters of German and lived in the country for nearly eight months, yet I could hardly form a coherent sentence! I listened and drank the language in all around me, but couldn’t seem to actually speak myself. Then, just when I felt like throwing in the towel, the day arrived for me to move in with another family to work as their Au Pair. And just like that, my feelings about language acquisition changed overnight. What changed, you ask? Friends, I believe I’ve discovered the secret…Children! Ok, so maybe I’m not the first to discover said secret, but I’m sure glad I did. Below are three reasons I believe children make the best teachers, plus an assortment of random iPone photos from our recent walk around the neighborhood. IMG_6386

1. You Have No Choice- The children I’m watching are ages three and a half, one and a half, and three weeks. Surprise, surprise- none of them speak English, which is actually an incredible advantage! First of all, their adorable little voices speaking German is too much for my ears to handle. Second, I have no choice but to speak German with them. Since little kids are very expressive physically, it’s easy to decipher what they really want. For example, the little girl I watch said, “Du sollst mich anfangen!” then proceeded to run away from me squealing and looking over her shoulder. I had no idea what ‘anfangen’ meant, but I correctly assumed she wanted me to chase her. Basically, we play a giant game of charades, and I learn new words. It takes out the middle step of translating from German to English back to German, and accelerates the pace!

IMG_63372. You’re On The Same Level- I am a perfectionist in nearly every area of my life, and I want so desperately to speak perfect German. But that’s just not how the process works. It’s trial by error, baptism by fire, falling down and getting back up again. If you don’t speak first with errors, you will never speak perfectly later. I get self-conscious speaking with adults, because I’m afraid they will think less of me or assume I am unintelligent because I don’t sound intelligent. I know this is not true 99.99% of the time- people have been so incredibly gracious and helpful- but I still  feel that way often. With kids, on the other hand, we’re on the same level linguistically. I never feel as self-conscious and can speak without inhibitions. I don’t mind when they correct me or ask me what I just said.

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3.  You Learn With Them- When I read a picture book to the kids, I’m learning just as much as they are. If I point to an animal and ask, “What’s that called?” I usually don’t know the answer myself- I genuinely need them to tell me! I’ve learned the vocabulary for all five senses, common animals, house hold objects, and automobiles from children’s books. I love discovering the world with them, one word at a time.

IMG_6349^The good life.

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^Where can I get one of those bikes without pedals in my size?

IMG_6341^The weary traveller.

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^Grass is just so fascinating.IMG_5578.jpgIMG_5583.jpgimg_5558.jpgIMG_5593.jpg

^One of the only areas of town that wasn’t bombed during WWII.IMG_5588.jpg^These German gardens, though.

So friends, if you’re struggling to learn a new language, look around for a kid to help out! That sounded kind of creepy…but you know what I mean. Easier said than done, I know, but I hope this post has been encouraging- you are not alone! If we put ourselves in a child’s shoes and remember to take one baby step at a time, we will be over that plateau in no time! Have a great week friends, I miss you already.

A Happy List

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Hello again friends, and happy Thursday! I can’t believe I’ve already been in Hildesheim for two and a half weeks. I’m now able to successfully navigate my way around town, and even have a few ‘favorite hang out spots’ to frequent. Over the past year, I’ve developed a little practice where I make a “Happy List.” That is, a list of all the small, seemingly insignificant things in my life that add up to make me one happy girl. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or cranky, I can look back on these lists and remember how blessed I truly am. You can read a past Happy List here, or keep scrolling down to read my latest list, sprinkled throughout a few recent pictures of Hildesheim in bloom!

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1. The fact that the sun doesn’t set until 9:30pm these days.
2. When I learn a new German word and then successfully use it in conversation.
3. My ritual morning cup of coffee.
4. The lilac bushes in full bloom around town.
5. Long telephone conversations with my dad.
6. The colorful doors scattered around Hildesheim. I have a thing for doors.
7. Being able to walk/ride my bike everywhere.
8. Sleeping in way longer than necessary.
9. Warm showers before bed.
10. Fresh flowers on the table.
11. Journaling.
12. Starting a new book.
13. Binge watching Gilmore Girls (I don’t have a problem, I could stop anytime).
14. All German bread. They do bread right.
15. Playing silly games with little kids.
16. Chillin’ with Tazan, my host’s cat.
17. Breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day, after all.
18. Snuggling up under a fuzzy blanket.
19. Having no where to be and nothing important to do.
20. Checking tasks off your to-do list.
21. Crawling into bed after a long day.
22. Church potlucks.
23. Wasting time in coffee shops.
24. Listening to a really interesting podcast.
25. Messing around on the guitar or piano.

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26. ^Finding my family’s name carved above an old German door frame. When can I move in?!
27. Experiencing spring slowly turn into summer. This is my first time really experiencing seasons, and it’s blowing my mind!
28. Traveling to new destinations.
29. Writing of any sort- blog posts, short stories, essays, poems, you name it!
30. Home cooked meals.
31. Warm fuzzy socks.
32. Learning about German traditions.
33. Shoe shopping.
34. Practicing my photography and becoming more familiar with my camera.
35. Family vacations.

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36. Colorful buildings and attention to detail.
37. Movie nights.
38. Cider. It’s not just for New Years Eve anymore!
39. Painting with watercolor.
40. Perusing my favorite blogs.
41. Peonies- my favorite flower of all time!
42. Experimenting with new hairstyles.
43. Listening to people talk about something they are obviously passionate about.
44. Card games.
45. Memorable late night conversations.
46. Becoming a regular somewhere.
47. Weekly bible study.
48. DIY crafts and decorations
49. This blog!
50. My lovely readers (that’s you, wink wink :))

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Meet Hildesheim!

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Friends, meet Hildesheim.
Hildesheim, meet friends. 

Now that you’ve been properly introduced, I thought I would tell you a bit more about my home for the summer. Hildesheim is a town in the northern German state of Nieder-Sachsen, near the larger cities of Hanover and Hamburg. Hildesheim was founded in 815 AD, and is preparing to celebrate its 1,200 year anniversary this summer. It was a walled city in the middle ages, and remnants of the wall can still be seen throughout Hildesheim today. It is the seat of the bishopric for Northern Germany, and has no small amount of churches to show for it!

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72% of Hildesheim was destroyed during the second world war, but this street is a part of the 28% that remained untouched. Arn’t the half-timbres houses just gorgeous?   IMG_6090.jpg
As legend has it, the son of emperor Charlemagne was hunting in the woods one summer and got lost. He placed his rosary beads on a rose bush and prayed to be found. He fell asleep, and when he woke up, his rosary was frozen to the branch! He swore that if he was found, he would build a cathedral dedicated to the virgin Mary on that very spot. A few hours later he was rescued and, true to his word, he constructed St. Mary’s cathedral with the rose bush wrapped around the nave (pictured above). That guy was nothing if not dedicated…

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Experts believe that the Thousand Year Old Rose is the oldest rose bush on Earth! And the locals claim that as long as the rose thrives, Hildesheim will thrive. The Rose has become a symbol of the town, and is depicted everywhere, such as painted on the side walk or above door frames.IMG_6112.jpgIMG_6120.jpg

^Germany really does have the best doors.

IMG_6123.jpg ^The memorial to the Jewish Synagogue that was destroyed on Kristallnacht.FullSizeRender-2.jpgIMG_6122.jpg  Well friends, I hope you enjoyed getting to know my summer home a bit better. It sure is a great place, and the only thing that would make it better is if you all were here with me! Have a relaxing weekend.

Adventures in the German Language

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Hello friends! Micah here, reporting on my first week in Hildesheim, Germany. This city is absolutely gorgeous, all the trees and flowers are in bloom, and the surrounding country side is covered in fields of bright yellow rape seed. I am getting along really well with the people I’m living and working with, and I even found a German tutor! But friends, let me just rant for a while about my struggles with the German language! I’ll be honest, I thought I was pretty good at German before I arrived in Hildesheim. After all, I got A’s on all my tests, I always spoke up in class, and I could do basic things like order or ask for directions. That makes me pretty much fluent, right? Yeah, I was pretty confident. But then I got here and realized… giphy-facebook_s.gif
Of course, I know more than nothing, but it feels like nothing! When people talk to me in German, I typically have one of two reactions:

1.) Feign interest and pretend I understand them, until they expect me to answer and realize I’ve been starring at them blankly for the past five minutes.635814950455234807-1041427893_mtkCYevBxE_BhWHK01mEfVcVyfFxNLxhVINrwAqrRmMBF0fI_GcetjCBs0fymjcndzkUUCtdZ4rG9RYSbYWPilMp3QlyNFPLQNNRQ46sr_AX8QfoUJX42-xqsFze_eclxfVsiEme.gif
2.) Blurt out ICH BIN AMERICANISH! before they start talking to avoid the struggle all together.

Neither one is a particularly good option… People’s reactions are always very gracious, either switching to their perfect english or slowing down to a pace I can follow. They are just proud of me for trying. They know how hard their language is and seem honored that I want to learn it. Thank you Germans for being so understanding! But in my mind they are thinking:

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I have a bad habit of being overly hard on myself. If I can’t do something perfectly, I’m tempted to not do it at all. But that’s not how you learn. So I keep marching forward one word at a time. When I fail, I pick myself up and try again! Learning German has produced in me a new found sense of confidence, humility and determination. And most of all, I’ve developed a deep respect for bilingual people- you rock, cheers to you!aAuBT9tWRw6BWzd3g1kO_Confused Ryan Office.gif
Well, thanks for listening to my rant thoughts on language acquisition. It was cathartic. All is well here and I hope you can say the same! Have a lovely week friends and I’ll be back soon. Now I’m off to proudly make a fool of myself at the grocery store 🙂

What’s in a Name?

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A blog by any other name would sound as sweet…thats how the saying goes, right? Well I hope Shakespear was right, because I just renamed this little blog of mine. What used to be “Heidelberglove” is now “Passportsandpaintbrushes.” As my time studying abroad in Heidelberg came to a close, I knew I didn’t want to stop blogging. At first I thought, “How can I blog about mundane, everday life after writing about such crazy travel adventures?” But then I realized that for me, blogging is about making everyday life an adventure. It pushes me to try new things, step outside my comfort zone, and exercise my creativity. Plus, as a creative writing major, I need to practice writing so I don’t get rusty during the summer. And so, my blog lives on! As my time here in Hildesheim, Germany, begins, I can’t wait to document and share it with you. The ups, the downs, the mundane, and the outrageous times will all be here, because together they make up life, and what a good life it is! Have a great week friends, I will check back here in in a few days after I’m over jetlag and can think straight. Tschüss for now!