I am in my fourth week in Germany and my third week in school and have already realized that Germans highly value technology and efficiancy. My German Gymnasium being the perfect example of this revelation. I have compiled a list of 5 objects and routines that my German Gymnasium has and does that make life easier and school run smoother.
1. A water fountain ACTUALLY MADE for water bottles: Run out of water in your water bottle? No worries because you can just go over to the "Bottle Filler" and choose from 3 DIFFERENT MODES, still water, water with some carbonation, or completely carbonated water. I am thrilled by this invention because your water bottle stands up vertically instead of being tilted it to the side and losing water when you try to fill it in a traditional water fountain. And the fact that you can choose from three different kinds of water is highly impressive to my American Exchange Student brain. Before I arrived in Germany I thought water was just a clear liquid that you got from the tap but I have learned that water is something to be savored out of glass bottles and the right amount of bubbles is key to the perfect sip. It really is the most amazing thing and I get excited every single time I have to fill up my water bottle at school!
2. Breaks between classes: Every two classes we have a 20 minute break where everyone is encouraged to go outside and to eat something. I have found that this helps me focus in classes later on because I have time to recuperate after a long class, socialize with friends and give my brain a break. Especially with learning in German, my mind can feel very tired after a full school day, so having built in breaks into our schedule is so appreciated because I am able to feel ready for the next lesson. Food is readily available at the "kiosk" for students to have a snack and re-energize themselves which helps with focus and engagement in future classes.
3. Thin textbooks: In America my textbooks for each class are thick and heavy and can feel awful carry to and from school in your backpack everyday. However, textbooks in Germany are compact, thin books that have just the right amount of information without being overwhelming and are gloriously light. If you have three separate classes on one day and you need to bring your textbook for each it's no trouble because they are so easy to carry. And in terms of creating the textbooks in the first place, manufacturers are using much less paper which is better for the environment and harms a smaller amount of trees.
4. Ipads: Almost every student in my class has an Ipad and is able to take notes and complete worksheets on it. They simply scan the assignment given by the teacher and are able to complete it without using any paper and not turning in something that will be thrown out later. In turn the teacher only has to print a few copies which saves so much energy and proves much better for the environment than every student having a packet of paper that will be discarded at the end of school year.
5. Hooks on the desks for your backpack: This is ingenious, instead of worrying about tripping over everyone's backpack when you walk around, they are neatly hung up on hooks attached to the desks. Students come in and put their backpacks on the hooks, creating a cleaner and more organized workspace. In addition, when teachers are walking around the classroom and students are mingling with each other, no one is trying to navigate a backpack maze or having a hard time reaching each other.
I love my German Gymnasium and can't wait to discover even more things that excite me!