Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Looking back on life as an English Language Assistant in Bavaria (and why it was awesome!)

This article was originally written for Epigram, where you can find a condensed version as part of the Travel section's Year Abroad Special.

As a fourth year French and German student, let me tell you, Timehop is a KILLER! Every morning I try not to weep into my porridge as I'm reminded of my life in Germany a year ago.

Teaching English in two German secondary schools in the Bavarian town of Bayreuth was probably the best six months of my life. Those of you who followed my adventures on my blog will not be surprised to hear this, and I can't tell you how much it makes me smile to read back my old posts (under my Travel tab). Only on my very brief essay breaks, naturally.

But let's recap a little and I'll try to explain to you just how fab a lifestyle it was...

I'd go to school for the ludicrously early 7.45am first lesson of the day (no joke), "teach" for a couple of hours and be back home, in my PJs, munching Milka chocolate in bed by 10am. Just as my friends back home were heading off to their 9am lectures. Mwah ha ha. *sobs upon realising I'm now one of them*

The truth is, life as a language assistant is pretty darn sweet. You supposedly have twelve hours of teaching per week (always spread over just four days) and you're meant to do twelve hours of lesson preparation too. But - can you keep a secret? - between you and me, no-one does twelve hours lesson prep. There just aren't twelve hours to be done!

And guess what? You earn gooooood money as a language assistant, in Germany and Austria in particular. So, what with all your time and money, it's the perfect set-up for exploring your new home country and the rest of Europe.

Without a doubt, how much I travelled was the BEST part of my year abroad. And I'm so glad I worked as a language assistant and thus had the time (and money) to do so.

To be honest, I think travelling and experiencing more of the local culture is just as important a part of your year abroad as the work. I mean, if you're only going to live in Bavaria once in your life, you'd be a fool not to make the trip to Oktoberfest in Munich and the Nuremberg Christmas market, don't you think?

If you work out how to get the best ticket deals (I recommend the Bayern Ticket), travelling within Germany is ridiculously affordable too. It was through my travels that I fell in love with Germany... And Bavaria in particular. Who knew it was such a magical, charming place?! Well, maybe you did. But I sure didn't!

Rothenburg ob der Tauber at Christmas time... Take me back!
Places aside, the German people I met everywhere I went were amazing. Everyone was so friendly, welcoming and helpful - completely going against the (totally unjust) German stereotype.

From my housemates to my colleagues to my pupils, I made some brilliant friends during my time in Germany.

And although I didn't come away with a new-found desire to be a teacher, I did really enjoy teaching. Sometimes I'd just assist in classes, occasionally I'd lead them, now and again I'd take pupils out to speak to them one by one, and every week I ran a conversation club for the older pupils who wanted to know more about modern life in Britain. (I think they particularly enjoyed learning about vajazzles and how to make apple crumble.)

I mainly worked with the 17-18 year old pupils, and the fact of the matter is their English was already amazing. These kids put all British teenagers to shame when it comes to foreign language learning. I'd talk to my pupils just as I would my own British friends, and considering they're only a few years younger than me, it's hardly surprising we really did become friends. I feel the pride of an older sister upon getting my former pupils' snapchats from uni now. (Yes, we're even snapchat friends.)

And if I wasn't working with the older kids, I was being made to feel like a celeb by the younger ones. These cute little children may only have just started English, but it was so sweet to see them get so excited by my entering the classroom.

For the most fun way to spend your year abroad, I cannot recommend being a language assistant enough. I miss it so much, and I'm not just referring to all the Gl├╝hwein, Schnitzel, Wurst, chocolate, Lebkuchen, Stollen, Haribo, pretzels... *wipes drool away from mouth*

Sorry, where was I?

Ahh yes.  Being a language assistant in Germany was probably the best six months of my life. If you have the opportunity, do it. And take loads of pictures with which to haunt future you.


  1. I'm going to be a language assistant in Vienna in February. So excited!

    1. Wow, that's going to be amazing! Lucky you. Have an amazing time! x

  2. Thanks :) I think it will be a nice break as well from working 9 to 6, five days a week :P


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