"I was placed in Frankenberg in Saxony Germany to teach as a Language Assistant in a school, but I actually lived on the outskirts in Chemnitz as Frankenberg was a small village. I found both mixed well as I experienced local traditional culture and the larger commercial German scene. The placement was 9 months long and was part of the British Council Scheme. We had a 3-day meeting in Frankfurt with all the assistants for the year and had a few crash course lessons in teaching. We received lots of materials, books, websites, help guides etc.
At first I didn’t have accommodation as my school was a little disorganised and I was quite stressed but within 2 weeks I finally found a furnished flat share. My situation though was rare and nearly everyone had accommodation arranged for them. Once settled in Chemnitz I made some great friends and still keep in touch with the teachers, loved my pupils in the classes and even got to go on free ski and school trips all over Saxony. I was nervous about talking in front of people but the experience gave me confidence and helped to me to focus on important points when lesson planning which in turn helped when writing essays. As a teacher you have to have clear concise points and information so the pupils understand, and the same goes for someone reading an essay.
I didn’t finish my degree in the end but stayed in Chemnitz to teach adults in a language centre. I was awarded an HND for the 2 years I had completed. I returned home in 2008 where I retrained as a graphic designer and this year 2011 came back to Chemnitz. I now work for a medium size company designing adverts and logos for the surrounding businesses and I love it. I use my German and am better at presentations and explaining ideas to clients thanks to the teaching experience. I think the year abroad was a turning point in my personal life and also career. I saw more opportunities, new things, met interesting people and realised it is ok to change your mind about what you want. It is not failure but exploration and development. I was quite insecure and shy and now have more get up and go. I guess when you are on your own in a foreign country you have to take every chance to get out there, make friends and survive. My German lexis exploded ten thousand fold once I moved to Germany, 18 months in Germany was better than studying from dictionaries and text books for ten years! I think as a person you become more open and patient and hey it gives you something to talk about when you get back!
Another bonus for me; I met my fiancé in Chemnitz. We are getting married next year after five years together and 3 years of that was apart for when I returned to the UK to study. I guess anything is possible!"