Intern Julia Zimmermann

Julia 's Internship: A Memorable Journey of Education and Adventure

Julia Zimmermann finished her studies to become a teacher last summer and wanted to gain some experience abroad before starting her Referendariat (Final Training) in Germany. Over the past eight months, she dedicated her time to assisting the Zebra Classroom, organizing and participating in a multitude of enjoyable activities. We are immensely thankful for Julia's time at SAGA for nearly the entire school year, and we will certainly miss her! Let us take a look at her experience: 

Describe your internship in 3 words

Exciting, fun, varied 

What were your highlights inside and outside of the classroom?

Out of all the different subjects, I enjoyed spending time with my students in the school library the most. I was able to get very creative and design and implement various activities to improve the students’ reading skills. We did an escape room activity, a virtual tour through my hometown, Cologne, and lots of other fun, interactive activities. Additionally, I particularly enjoyed promoting the Kölner Karneval at SAGA by visiting the elementary classrooms with an interactive presentation. I have been celebrating this cultural event since I was a child and I enjoyed seeing the students get excited about the traditional songs and the Kamelle. :-)   

Outside the classroom, I really enjoyed exploring the beautiful nature in the PNW and I appreciated having the mountains and Puget Sound just around the corner. I really love hiking and the outdoors, so Seattle was a perfect match for me. Besides, I was fortunate to do a lot of traveling, for example to Hawaii, California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon and Utah. I definitely made memories that I will never forget! During my whole stay, I was lucky to make new friends along the way, and we enjoyed spending time together, going to various sports games and exploring the city and the region. 

What will you miss the most when going back to Germany?

I will definitely miss my students from the Zebraklasse, with whom I have worked the past 8 months. It is impressive how fast you get to know them and how much you attach yourself to them. It was very special spending this school year with them and watching them make personal and academic progress. Additionally, I will miss seeing my colleagues each day and exchanging the latest news at recess or in the kitchen during lunch break. SAGA is a small school and the atmosphere is very familial. It was very nice getting to know all the staff and being part of the team.  

Outside SAGA, I will miss the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and the beautiful nature it has to offer. I loved exploring the region and spending lots of time outdoors. Finally, the other interns I met at SAGA became my closest friends here, and I will miss having them around in Germany. We made lasting friendships, and we will definitely stay in touch!  

What did you expect before starting your internship at SAGA? 

To be completely honest, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Most of my previous internships had been in middle schools or high schools, so working with elementary students was a completely new experience for me. I wasn't sure if I would be able to handle the challenges that came with it. Additionally, I was uncertain about the language skills of the students since many of them had grown up in the United States. Having never worked in an immersion school before, I found it truly fascinating to witness the students' bilingualism and see how SAGA promoted German and English language skills. Furthermore, working in a private school was a first for me as well. I didn't know how different it would be compared to the public schools I had worked at in Germany. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how closely SAGA collaborated with parents to ensure that each student received personalized instruction. I always felt valued and appreciated by the parents for the work I did with their children, which was a truly rewarding experience.

As your internship has come to an end, what are your plans after?

Before going back to Germany I will be traveling in the US for about a month and do lots of hiking and exploring. I am excited about my trip to Alaska and my road trip to Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. In November, I will start my Referendariat at a German Gymnasium and finish my training to become an English and French teacher. 

Share a funny or memorable moment from your internship that still brings a smile to your face.

I can think of various funny moments resulting from kids always saying what they think and being brutally honest. Here is my favorite example: 

During my time at school, I frequently wore black and white striped shirts, which led the kids to compare me to the movie character Beetlejuice. One day, two of my colleagues decided to wear striped shirts, while I didn't. A student approached me, meticulously examining my entire outfit in search of any striped item. Although they couldn't find one, their gaze eventually landed on my face, and they cheerfully exclaimed, "Ah, but you have stripes on your forehead!"

Hearing such a remark in your twenties isn't exactly what you would hope for, but it certainly brought laughter to me and my co-workers then, and it continues to do so even now!

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