I had a Dream

Some time ago (about a year or two) I had these amazing dreams where everything seemed so real that when I woke up I could not stop thinking about them. Yesterday I had one of these dreams again. The next thing I do when I wake up is: write down the dream so that maybe some day I could make it into a book. Nothing extraordinary has happened to me in my dreams and it is always too difficult to put down on a paper what you have felt and experienced during a dream, at least for me.

The dream was somewhat mixed within the emotions and experiences of my childhood and present thoughts and ideas. It all started in the town I lived in when I was a child; a nice and sunny summer day with the odour of the trees that calms you down and the exceptional feeling of being a child in the 90s, but today there was something different. A large group of people with a lot of cars and staff where entering the town. They were models who had to make a show there. My heart melted. The next moment I am me at present and this is my teenage dream coming true. Then I stand in the line where all girls from the town are casting to participate in the show and at that time I remind myself of my imperfections. Nevertheless, I tell myself I can do this and even though I have my shortcomings, I could still win the competition. When it is my turn to present myself, I am harshly reminded of my faults. I am devastated but I am not letting them to see that. I promise to work hard on my body and to be in shape in no time and to deal with the other imperfections as well. I smile and pose. Everyone looks at me and judges me out loud. Finally, they say no. I feel sick, but I stay calm and let them speak. I listen. Then I run till the river. I cry my soul out; I am wretched. I wake up.

You know the feeling when you desire something so badly that it hurts and when there is a chance you could get it, but you struggle
and still do not get it… Well, this was that kind of dream.

I hope that one day I will be able to put in to words the feelings I experience in my head during the night.

P.S. Dream on!

Nina

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I had a Dream

Unconditional Love

I don’t know if you have read George Sand’s La Petite Fadette (1849), but it is about twin brothers: Landry and Sylvient. They are so alike, but also so different. They are family. Their brotherhood is somewhat similar to the sisterhood of my sister and me. 

My sister and I, we are not twins, but sometimes I wish we were because then it would be so much fun. Nevertheless, we are very alike. Since our childhood we have been always together: sleeping, playing, and fighting. We have done a lot of mean and childish things to each other, some of which I still regret and will never forgive myself. I don’t know why, but I have always been the angry child. She, on the other hand, was calm and lovable.

As the years passed by we still continued to sleep together, but our emotional bond was not that strong anymore. Our interests were different, and the schools too. Then one time, I can’t really remember when, we developed a common ground that was books. In the secondary school I was so passionate about books that I somehow got the attention of my sister back. My proposals for her to begin to read books that I found the most interesting was an amazing idea to do. However, sometimes I told her about a book “You wouldn’t understand it,” when she immediately wanted to read it. This works only with those people who have a temper and spitefulness. Our mutual discussions, self-discovering, and philosophical contemplations began.

Since then, when I read a good book, I always suggested it to her. And when she read it, we discussed the most emotional, and provocative things, as well as, ideas to that we totally disagreed and why. The view on the world became mutual to us. Words, languages, humor, irony, sarcasm, movies, rights, education, fashion, etc. became the essence of our existence. She became ‘my person’ and I hers. 

To be one’s person for us means that this person will never reveal any secret of yours; you can tell that person everything and not be judged. Ok, sometimes through joking you might judge each other a bit, but the secret would still be safe between you two. The other person also knows what you are thinking and how you are feeling by your facial expression and the tone of your voice. This person will help you to think of a rational way out of a hard situation. She always knows the right things to say TO ME! She is my sister.

Nina

P.S. My sister is graduating the secondary school today and I am not with her. She turned out to be much more that I expected and all by herself.

Unconditional Love

What?! Nirvana or Not

German people amaze me every day. I have the feeling that they are some kind of dilatory hippies or modern freethinkers. What I have observed is that there are some notions that would not be acceptable within the conservative Latvians, yet I favour.

The other day I noticed three tramps sitting in the university. They did not harass anybody, they were just sitting there. One of them I have previously noticed because he regularly stands with the students and waits for their fag-ends. The man has no socks in the hot summer days and he feels free to wander around the building and nobody cares if he is there or not. Once early in the morning I even saw him sleeping on a bench with his torn socks smelling quite bad. Anyway, I did not have to stay long in the room, so I didn’t care. I was quite satisfied with him being in a warm room and relaxing before the long day.

Then each and every day I see a young and pregnant girl or a young mother. I say they are young because they look approximately 16-25 years old. The point is that they look so happy, they don’t seem like they are having some kind of problems or difficulties. I suppose that the maternity allowance here is much higher than in Latvia as well. Another thing is that they very often carry their newborn babies in an African style, that is, in their bosoms. I personally would be afraid of carrying a child in that way and sometimes I think they have no air for breathing.

Moreover, children in Germany are very passionate and very extrovert, as we in Latvia would call it — misbehaved. In the tram they scream and run up and dow, change seats and talk to strangers. In kindergartens they shout as swell, and today I even think that someone could easily kidnap a child, but nobody would do that in Germany. Such faithfulness is unknown to me and that is why it scares  and confuses me a lot. This, however, leads to questioning myself whether it is good or bad and if I would raise my children in this or another way.

Then as students, or maybe this generation is different, they are surprised when I say I have to pay approximately 1000 EUR in a semester for my studies. For them everyone is able to get at least a Bachelor’s degree, whereas, Master degree is something more ‘middle class’. Moreover, students in Germany are so politically active and they fight for their rights. Some time ago there was a protest against closing a faculty in Dresden for future teachers. I think this is what student committees should largely deal with.

Nevertheless, there is a weird thing I have noticed as well. They are very pedantic, I would even call them ‘anal’. They overdo every tiniest thing, and copy out all the materials even the ones they already have and then put it all together in a colourful folder, that has a nice matching note-book, and in the folder they put all the written pages, ripped out of the notebook, according to sections. In the pages they write very neatly and slowly. They correct all the errors and ugly things, the sam in the planner. However, few times I have noticed their painted nails. The impression is that they have done it with closed eyes.  I come to a conclusion that they colour their nails as if they are blind, but write as if their lives depended on it.

And what about the smell?! They smoke all the time, all day, every day, after each lecture and so on, but their clothes smell so strongly of cloth softener. It is like the copulative compound bitter-sweet which is neither sweet nor bitter, it is just a person’s emotional state. Then again, barefoot girls in the lectures, pregnant girls without bras, pierced and tattooed people, drunk people sleeping on the benches in a park, drunk people tanning with out shirts in a park, drinking everywhere, neo Nazis, and radical football fans are nothing unusual in Germany.

Nina

What?! Nirvana or Not

Drama Workshop

Two weeks ago, the lecture in methodology was taking place as a drama workshop with a special guest from the United Kingdom. Tom Bailey is a drama teacher in many theatres in the UK. He came to Germany in order to present drama as a means of language teaching.

Drama in the language classroom — a seminar. First, Bailey introduced himself with the help of relaxing exercises in order to lose the tension and in some way fear. My colleagues and I we had to walk around the room and say hello to each other. When an eye-contact was established we had to shake hands and tell our names. It was a simple approach, but it helped to build up our confidence.

Then cam the warm up exercises. Everyone must speak in the target language. The teacher must participate to show how willing he/she is to take part. Healthy competition is always useful. People must work in groups with people who they now so that 10 minutes later they could change in groups of people they don’t know. This is a way how their barriers could be broken down nice and slowly.

The third game was about learning new vocabulary. The words that will be used in a game must be introduced ahead of practical usage. They must walk around the room again and concentrate on the information that will be given to them. Whilst students are walking around the leader shouts out the words “Touch something smooth, for instance. Consequently, they have to touch something smooth. The topic could also deal with shapes and colours, as well as other, topical matters.

Forth one concentrates on closer observations of another person. In pairs, students must observe everything they can remember from each other for two minutes. Then they must stand back to back and describe their partner. This is a good approach to teach clothing, colours, and accessories.

The fifth, ‘working with mime’ is a play in which one must create a mime whilst other students are standing in a circle . The next one approaches the person in the centre and asks “What are you doing?” Further, the one doing the action thinks of another action he/she wants the other student to perform. This is an excellent way for teaching progressive tenses.

Then we worked with an object. Students are supposed to be seated on the floor in a circle facing each other. Then somebody puts a small object into someone’s hands. The person hasn’t seen the object and is now questioned about the shape, the texture, the weight, the usage of it. This task serves as a nice model for teaching questions and adjectives.

The final, but not the least important is a game with visuals. Someone gives a picture of a person and now everyone has to discuss it: How old is the person? What is their job? What is their family life? What is their personality? Likes; dislikes; hobbies; possible future; etc. This was my favourite exercise, unfortunately, the imagination of my colleagues was not that satisfactory. Nevertheless, I think this is a good method of psychological analysis of the speakers as well.

To sum up, I was quite sceptical in the beginning, but in the end I found some of these ideas quite useful for socializing and getting to know each other. However,  these tasks take a lot of time and sometimes equal attention was not given to all of the students. Some of them might like it, but some might feel rather disappointed. I must also note that we were told to praise students for good answers and well done job. Never forget to be humane.

Nina

Drama Workshop

Human Nature: Latvia vs Germany

Future teachers, linguists and philologists of the English language are the students I have seen and observed during the first two months of my studies in Leipzig. Since the first week I was trying to find pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages of being here and comparing the behaviour of people in different situations as well as their appearance. Now I have come to some particular conclusions regarding these topics and the outcome is quite balanced.

First I’d like to start with how Germans dress and compare it with Latvians. People from my country are very much into labels and most of them try to earn money to spend it on either few and expensive clothes, or many and cheap ones, but the result is the same. Looks are so important that if you think of going out wearing pyjamas or sports clothes you will be confronted with a lot of judgemental glances. In situations like these one has to have guts to  ignore them with a raised head. Whereas in Germany the situation is completely different. Very many people from Germany are into some labels, but those are sports or casual style labels like Jack Wolfskin and Adidas. Some people wear outfits and shoes that are tore in some places, but still usable. They dress like people who are free in their mind and souls. This remark leads to an other particularity regarding knowledge and intelligence.

Second remark I want to introduce deals with how German people from different fields of English studies present their knowledge pending the lectures. In the classes with linguistic students I feel uncertain, yet very fascinated by the theories I am learning. The linguistic students are so knowledgeable that sometimes they even compete with the professor who always sticks to her guns to stay authoritative, even though they confuse her very often. Philologists on the other had are very neat and accurate students. They are in the beginning of their studies, but they are eager learners who speak up only when they know the answer at the same time using interrogative mood. Last but not the least are future teachers whom I would classify as the least acquainted with the various aspects of the English language. Those students haven’t had a grammar class, don’t know the theoretical names for some languages features like the definite and indefinite article, the degree of comparison, etc. Further this leads to the question of how one can be an English language teacher without knowing the terms…

Third and the final conclusion concerns Latvian students of the English philology who are contrariwise to all the above mentioned. Students in my faculty are not so talkative even though they study languages. They are always thinking and over thinking each and every tiniest detail. The tiniest outspoken mistake would make them feel like failures. The insecurity of their ideas isn’t constantly weakening their outcome, but eventually it will worsen their performance. This observation has made me change my mind about the educational system in Latvia in general.

Finally, I would like to come to a conclusion that I enjoy studying in Germany more that in Latvia because the lectures are not about lecturing, but about acquiring knowledge in a sensible way and not by learning everything by heart while using short-term memory.

Nina

Human Nature: Latvia vs Germany