Louis Linnertz und Max Heinze aus der Klasse 10c interviewten unsere Fremdsprachenassistentin Sohinee Bera, die in diesem Schuljahr den Englischunterricht in vielen Klassen begleitet und bereichert.
Please tell us something about yourself
Hi! My name is Sohinee Bera and I am 22 years old. I was born in and grew up in West Lafayette, Indiana. Indiana is in the Midwest Region of the U.S. I have a mom, a dad, and an older sister who is 30 years old. They all still live in Indiana. I did my undergraduate at Purdue University. There, I studied Communication, Painting, and International Studies.
Why did you decide to work as a teaching assistant and do you enjoy teaching in Germany?
I had a friend who did the same program as the one I’m doing now, and she was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Rostock in 2018. I loved hearing about her experiences in Germany and it inspired me to also consider applying for a Fulbright grant. I also thought I would be in a unique position to be an English teacher, because of my background. English was my second language, so I can understand and relate to the difficulties of learning English. Ultimately, it just made sense to apply for a teaching assistantship to Germany. And I love being a teacher! I was nervous at first, since I didn’t have much teaching experience, but it has been fun and rewarding.
What are the differences between the German and the American school system?
There are many differences between the two school systems, but I think the biggest one is how long the school day is. In Germany, the school day ends at 1 PM, but in America, most schools end around 3 PM. Then there are usually sport practices or clubs that meet after school. So I remember when I was in high school, I wouldn’t get home until 5 PM. I enjoy having a shorter school day in Germany though. It gives me much more free time.
How long will you be staying at Geschwister-Scholl?
I will be here until June 30. I started in September, so I’ll be an assistant for a total of 10 months.
What advice would you give students who are learning English?
If you really want to learn English, I would say to immerse yourself in English as much as possible. Watching English movies, listening to music in English, or speaking to friends in English are all great practice. There’s only so much you can learn in school, so it’s important to immerse yourself.
Have you already had the chance to travel in Germany?
Yes! When it was warmer out, I traveled to a different town or city every weekend. I usually stayed within NRW, Hesse, or RLP though. Over the fall break, I went to Garmisch-Partenkirchen with a few other Fulbrighters, and that was incredible. It was my first time seeing the Alps.I think the most common mistake that is made when learning a language is when students try to give too literal a translation. I certainly used to make this mistake when I was learning German in school where I was not aware of certain intricacies within the German language. I do believe, however, that this is a problem that is easily solved over time by closely studying the context of a foreign language, and not just the vocabulary.
What are your hobbies?
I like to do anything outside and anything creative! From painting, to hiking, to video editing, to kayaking, to embroidery, I really enjoy it all. Before my teaching assistantship, I worked at Joshua Tree National Park in California, and that was a great experience of getting to work outside every day protecting the environment.
Is there anything that surprised you about life in Germany?
I’m not sure if there was anything specific that surprised me, but the biggest thing I noticed was that stores are closed on Sundays. In the US, almost every grocery store is open 24/7, so I could even shop for food at 2 AM on a Sunday if I wanted to. Here I can’t do that, and sometimes I forget to plan my food for Sunday ahead of time, so that has been difficult.
Is there any special food in the US that you miss here in Germany?
Yes! I really miss Mexican food. I’ve tried the tortilla chips and salsa at the grocery store, and it’s really not the same. I haven’t been able to find refried beans anywhere either. I used to live in California, where there is a high population of Mexican immigrants, and the food I got there was very authentic. So, I miss eating tacos, burritos, and other Mexican delicacies.