Friday, April 9, 2010

Sam Lauer Loves Teaching in Austria as Fulbright Teaching Assistant

Note:  Sam enjoyed his first year teaching in Austria, he decided to continue on for a second year.  Here are his impressions and greetings to our students and faculty.
 Hello St. John's German Department!

I hope some of you consider applying for the Fulbright Teaching position in Austria your senior year!  I have been teaching English lessons in a couple of small towns here in Austria for a year and a half now, and it has been a great experience for me. 

I live in Köflach, which is a small town of approximately 10,000 people in Styria. Köflach is a town that seems to be going through a transition right now; the coal mines that ran the area's economy were closed down a few years ago, and this has had a huge impact. Many towns around here are shrinking, and economic focuses are changing; Köflach is trying to change its image from a coal-mining town to a tourist destination. Fortunately, there are a few attractions. Köflach is near a few small ski-areas (some of which still have some snow, but not enough for any actual skiing anymore). It is also near the Lipizzaner stud farm in Piber, which breeds horses for the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

As I mentioned, I have been helping with the English lessons in a couple of different schools. One of my schools is a Gymnasium, which is similar to a high school in the United States and focuses on preparing students for university. The other two schools are a bit more difficult to explain. Both are kind of like technical schools that focus on a particular field (catering and business, respectively). Students in these schools attend for an additional year before taking the Matura, after which they can either find a job in the field that their school focused on, or attend university. I have enjoyed working in all three of these schools. The teachers have been very helpful in coming up with suggestions for lessons and most of the students have been fun and easy to deal with.

Of course, I don't spend all of my time in my schools. I have managed to get myself involved in a couple of the local groups: specifically, the Judo and the Gymnastics clubs. I had no experience with either of these activities before coming to Austria, and they have both given me many opportunities to learn something new and to practice my German (but in a much more colloquial way - the Styrian accent is fun!!). 

Alles Gute!
Sam Lauer '08