Monday, 16 May 2005

The Boys

Joshua is now attending high school. They have a few different kinds of high schools here depending on your academic level and expected job vocation. Those hoping to advance to a university education generally attend a 'gymnasium' (pronounced GIM-narz-i-oom, with the 'oo' as in an Australian-pronounced 'book'), with those going on to further education (technical college or similar) attending the 'realschule' and others going to the 'hauptschule' (main school). So Joshua is attending the local gymnasium located in the nearest town. His classes start early (7:50am) and he gets himself there via train (7:24am from our village) and foot. So far he really seems to be lapping up all the new and interesting subjects, which he probably wouldn't have started for a few more years in Australia. I'm sure he'll post about this soon.

He has made a good friend in a German boy who recently returned with his family from a few years in the US. His father is also a physicist and working at the Forschungzentrum. His English is excellent as is his German and so he often translates for Josh. The family lives in a nearby village and have been very friendly and helpful to us. In particular, the mother has helped Gaynor with shopping and socialising. The boy and Josh decided (for their own nefarious reasons) to tell their German classmates that 'hokey-pokey' was a rude word in English. Sure enough later that day during class, one of the boys in the class dropped his pencil and let out a 'Hokey-pokey!' much to the bemusement of the (English-speaking) teacher and the barely suppressed giggles of Josh and friend.

Elijah was probably our most reluctant to come to Germany, having settled into a fairly nice lifestyle in Canberra and generally being a bit resistant to altering the status quo. He is attending the 'grundschule' (primary school) along with Mara, though next school year -- which begins after the summer in about September -- he will be going to one of the next level schools. See the first paragraph in the part about Joshua for a run-down on the options. We will push to have him attend the gymnasium with Josh, since he really is a bright boy, though he has shown a leaning to go where-ever most of his friends will be attending. Friends and relationships are quite important to Elijah.

We've been encouraging him to get out and about a bit more, by playing with some of the children in his class (there is a boy just down the street) and he does this somewhat. He also enjoys spending time with Joshua's German-who-just-returned-from-the-US family. Probably because he can speak English with them. One thing he has missed so far is the rugby season which has just finished here and just started in Australia. There is a reasonably local team (including juniors) at Aachen. I expect next winter the boys will want to be involved. Elijah's grandmother has kindly offered to record some Australian football games and send them over. Hopefully this will help to keep Elijah (and the rest of the family too!) in the (sport-watching) lifestyle to which he has become accustomed.

Thursday, 12 May 2005

Ich habe fünf kinder!

This is a phrase I learnt early (in English it's "I have five children."). It was worth learning quickly to be able to see the whites of the local's eyes grow as they realise. Usually their numbering system for children stops around three with two being the most common numeral. But they are very generous and affectionate towards children and so there would be many worse places than Germany to have a childhood (See the post Karneval! for instance). Must be hard to be a kid in this place. So the next couple of posts will be brief rundowns on the five that I have some hand in ...