Good morning! I know I have not written in a while (instead I am going to write a bit more in this article than in the ones before) but I do not regret that at all. I had very much to do and I did not want to use my free time for writing. Now I have holidays, so I have some time to write and since these are my first real school holidays I think it is time to write about school.
The day when school starts is in Estonia traditionally the first of September, which is also the day of knowledge. Since that date was a Saturday this year, I went to school the first time on Monday the third. Some schools also started already on Friday, other students had to come to school on Saturday. It is customary that on this day the students dress formally (usually in black and white or in some kind of school uniform) and bring flowers for their teachers. On the arrival orientation camp the YFU volunteers showed us examples how we could or should dress for our first school day but what they showed us was exaggerated. I have seen very few students dress up as formally as I saw on the arrival camp.
On my first school day I spent a lot of time just waiting. My host sister had told me to go to my class teacher’s room but she came just a few minutes before school started and I had been there half an hour ago. When she finally came she already knew my name and told me where to go for the first “lesson”. Since she teaches German she spoke in (very good) German with me. I went to the assembly hall where already some students from my grade sat. After everyone had come every student got a student card and the two teachers (my class teacher and the one of the other class) talked about things I did not understand… There I got a first idea of what it was like to not understand the language you are listening to.
When they were finished we gave them the flowers (I also gave my class teacher chocolate because she would take care of me as an exchange student) and we went outside where some people sang and the students were welcomed to the school. We could go home again after that.
The 10th grade at my school consists of the classes MS (Media, Sports) and TS (Technology, Sports); I am in the latter. The Technology part of the TS class has more maths and physics lessons. Also we participate at the technical history lesson and the technical drawing lesson. Most students from my class (including me) also go to the robotics lessons.I also sing in two school choirs: one is the choir for all high school students and the other is actually a “children’s choir” (5th to 9th grade). I was really excited when I had the opportunity to participate at the children’s choir because they (hopefully will be able to) go to the Laulupidu (the Estonian song festival that takes place every five years).
In the beginning I usually walked after the girl who had offered to help me in the start with the teachers and school in general. During that time I did not talk much (usually only to ask for translation) and I existed more than really participated at the regular school life. I also soon got bored in the lessons. First I had enough motivation to try participating in every subject: I wrote down everything I could and tried my best to listen to the teachers. During the lessons where the teachers told me not to participate because it “made no sense” I learned Estonian.
After a while the motivation decreased and I drew more than learned during lessons.The teachers talking became no more than a constant, monotonous noise that was very tiring to listen to. Of course there were always lessons were I could (and can) participate but I am going to talk about those more detailed later. Something that got better were my social contacts. I began to talk to the other students from my class and started to play cards with them during the breaks (something that seems to be very common in Estonia). I also began to spend most of my time in school with three girls from my class.
Now to the subjects that I can actively participate in (that means I do not just copy everything from the board and do nothing else):
- English (obviously)
- German (even more obvious)
- Geography, at least at the moment. I am not so sure, whether I should be so happy about this one, because we have to learn all countries in Europe and 43 more plus capitals.
- The teacher usually translates the exercises I do not understand. I actually enjoy the sports lessons more than in Germany
- I already mentioned that I have “technical drawing” lessons (sadly I do not have normal arts lessons as well). Well yes, I can participate there too.
- Even though I do not understand everything at the moment, I am happy to be able to participate at Mathematics as well. The teacher is quite good at explaining without using language at all
- Additionally I am able to go to an Estonian lesson with the students from 4th I enjoy those lessons very much because I understand more and the students are indeed very friendly
During the other lessons I get sometimes asked a question or I can prepare a presentation for the next lesson. All in all it is not so bad to go to school here.
Note: To my own disappointment I had to find out that the, in Estonia quite common subject “national defense” is teached in 11th grade; it might have been an interesting subject.After the first seven weeks of school I was very happy to have a week of vacation. The weekend, where I did not have much free time (because of a YFU meeting) has been exhausting and I feel like I have been constantly lacking sleep. Now my holidays are almost over, but it began to snow and I feel better than in the beginning (though that of course does not mean that I am looking forward to school).