Blogreport by EJ and Halie

Meet E.J. and Halie

Ej portrait

XU Yijie, also known as E.J.

Meet E.J., one of our exchange students from Hong Kong. E.J. is studying english education for secondary school level at the Education University of Hong Kong in her fourth year. "I am an optimistic person who enjoys travelling and experiencing new stuff. I am generally interested in European history. I am fond of European classical music, many of the classical musicians are German. I am grateful to be able to visit the birthplaces of these extraordinary people. One of my focusses is Chinese culture. I am interested in comparing the differences between both cultures and the educational systems. This internship made that possible, to me that is fantastic."

Halie portrait

Lai Hei Tung, also known as Halie

Halie is in her third year at the Education University of Hong Kong. She is specialising in Chinese language (Cantonese and Mandarin). "I always enjoy experiencing something new. This internship programme provided a chance to manage new and different tasks and meet new cultures. I have not been to Europe before. Europe has a different culture, lifestyle and history than Hong Kong. I am interested in the differences between those cultures, especially with a focus on history.  I am really happy that I have a chance to visit famous museums, new cities and to talk to local people. It helps extending my knowledge and understanding of people and cultures, and broaden my horizons."

Students' Expectations prior to coming to Frankfurt

E.J.'s Expectations

E.J. being fascinated by the Philosopher's Way in Heidelberg, June 2017.

Germany is a well-developed country. The economy, social security system, educational system and many other aspects in Germany are considered to me some of the most advanced institutions worldwide. There are some world-famous universities in Germany, as well as a number of Nobel Prize winners from Germany which implies the general interest in acquiring knowledge, the eductional system and innovation.

Frankfurt is a large city with a very diverse population. I am hoping to feel the charm of an international city where people with different cultural backgrounds work, study and live together. The Goethe-University and its high academic achievements has attracted thousands of students from all over the world to study and live in Frankfurt.

I believe that this internship will benefit me on a broad spectrum of things. I expect to learn about the German social mannerisms as well as the educational system and its differences in comparison to Hong Kong.

Halie's Expectations

Halie enjoying the view across the bridge towards the cathedral in Cologne, July 2017.

It is clear that there are differences between the education systems and styles in Hong Kong and Germany, but I had never personally experienced them. I wanted to learn and experience more about the differences, so I decided to go abroad.

During this internship I am hoping to learn more about the German educational system and teaching style, as well as the local students' daily life. Next to that, I am hoping to gain some additional experiences for my future teaching career, and apply new ideas and thoughts into my work as a teacher when I haev finished my degree.

I am a minor in Chinese history, I believe history in general is a good way of understanding the mentality of a city or a country and its resindents and civilisation, and broadening one's own horizon. I want to travel around Germany and other countries, in order to learn more about their unique history in real life - not out of a book.

Activities at and around the Goethe University

School Observation

School Observation

In front of the Leibnizschule Gymnasium, on school visitation.

We were curious about the European educational system and its differences compared to the Asien system. Moreover, we were specifically curious about the German educational system among other European educational systems.

E.J.: The class organization and the teaching methods are different from the ones used in Hong Kong. Teachers combine the writing tasks in Art classes, which is creative and beneficial to students. Moreover, year-6 students just study English for one year, but the teacher already cultivates their English reading ability, as reading English novels helps promoting students’ interests.

Halie: Some classes take place in outdoor, sitting under the trees, close to nature. This is a new teaching style to me. Teachers and students have more freedom to decide on which classes they develop or take and students can sometimes even decide the content. Very interesting!

Dr. Mihm answering some of E.J. and Halie's questions after the school observation.

Attending Seminars

Attending Seminars

Teaching and assessing children with special needs in the FLC - Seminar visitation with Ms Veneziano-Osterrath.

"There are various teaching styles in Goethe University. Many teachers teach student-centered, however some teachers prefer the lecturing method. In the seminars we visited, most classroom settings are different from those used in Hong Kong. Students are seated at tables in a U-shape, which is convenient for having a discussion round.

Halie: Students are very active to answer and ask questions. I noticed a very positive learning atmosphere. Also, students have deep discussions in class, they pay full attention to teachers and classmates, which is slightly different to Hong Kong.

At the ABL Office

At the ABL Office

Mara, Gloria, E.J. and Halie working together on the website of the ABL and preparing their texts.

Gloria, Mara, E.J. and Halie preparing different tasks for the ABL office.

Working with Colleagues

Working with Colleagues

Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamcorper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis autem vel eum iriure dolor in hendrerit in vulputate velit esse molestie...A meeting with a repetative nature is 'Cake Tuesday', which does not only involve cake, but it is a chance totalk to colleagues on a less formal basis. It creates a cooperate identity, too.

Halie, E.J. and their colleague Margrieta enjoying 'cake tuesday' with hearty salads.

Meeting with the exchange students from last year, from Hong Kong and Germany at the Westend Campus of the Goethe University.

From left to right, in the back: Felix, Kan, Disney and Selvi. In the front: Gloria, Mara, E.J. and Halie.

Book Centre Cornelsen

Book Centre Cornelsen

An impression of the visit at the Cornelsen Book Centre.

EJ: "There is a great variety of textbooks in the Textbook Centre. This offers a lot of options for teachers. What impresses me most is the amount of textbooks for students with special needs. The staff there especially introduced the materials for students with special needs. Students all have the equal opportunities to study, regardless of who they are. The textbooks there show the interest in details in Germany’s educational system.

Halie: The Textbook Centre is very comprehensive. It includes a lot of subjects and also material for special needs students. Nowadays, special needs students are largely in focus, so it is very good to have fitting resources for them.

Goethe Museum

Goethe Museum

The Goethe Haus Frankfurt

The Goethe Museum, also called the Goethe House, is the only picture gallery exclusively dedicated to the age of Goethe.

EJ: "Goethe is one of the best-known writers in the world. We visited the Goethe Museum with great admiration and curiosity. Goethe was born in a wealthy family where he received excellent and advanced education. He was knowledgeable and wise. His works sufficiently shows his breadth of knowledge. As a student and future teacher, the idea of life-long learning and broadening one's knowledge throughout one's life, should be a reminder to myself as well as taught to students."

Halie: "Goethe Museum is a small Museum, and a very interesting place to visit. Here, one can get information on Goethe, such as Goethe’s family and his young life to name some. All of this information is very impressive. The artwork and decoration inside the building are just beautiful. I can imagine Goethe’s wonderful life in this house."

The view into the poet's room:

Picture source: Goethe Haus Frankfurt

E.J. and Halie's Travels through Europe



Treasure hunting with Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm

Hanau is the birthplace of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, the authors who collected and published Grimm's fairytales. There are many different bronze statues thematised with Grimm’s fairytales throughout the city. This made our 'tourist trip' feel like an adventureous treasure hunt, trying to discover the different statues and the stories behind them.



Daytrip to Heidelberg

Daytrip to Heidelberg

Halie: "Heidelberg is a very comfortable city with an extensive history. It has a lot of well-known places, like Heidelberg castle, the student prison, philosophers' way, Carl-Theodor bridge and so on. I found the most interesting place is the student prison; the history behind it is very special. The graffiti on the walls there is interesting, eventhough I do not understand German, I still tried my best to decipher every message written on those prisonwalls."

EJ: "We visited many famous attractions such as Heidelberger Schloss, studentenkarzer, Philosophenweg, Alte Brücke in Heidelberg. It is a long way to walk through the Philosophenweg but the atmosphere around it is beautiful. The breezy feeling made me relaxed and peaceful. Studentenkarzer is a reflection of school’s culture in history. The graffitis on the walls made it ossible for me to grasp the students’ creations and innocence."

Cologne & Bonn

Cologne & Bonn

In Beethoven's Footsteps

In Beethoven's Footsteps.

Halie: "Cologne is the largest city in the German federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Cologne cathedral was declared a world heritage site by the UNO. It is enormously high, and the details inside are so exquisite. When I went to the top of the church, I was so surprised. I could see the exterior design of the cathedral in close detail and have a magnificent view over the entire city. It was really impressive.

Bonn is the birthplace of Beethoven, and I knew more about his life.  Eventhough he met lots of difficulties in his life, he is still a celebrated musician even today."

EJ: "Cologne is diversified and one of the most famous cities in Germany. Couples lock their love on the Hohenzollern Bridge; Chocolate lovers learn the process of making chocolate as well as taste it in Chocolate Museum; History lovers visit Hohe Domkirche St. Peter und Maria -also a world heritage site- to experience the magnificence of human’s work.

One of the main reasons that I wanted to go to Bonn is because of Beethoven. When I was young, I learned to play the piano. I always wondered what kind of man can create so many extraordinary works, some of which are romantic, some of which are pathetic, and some of which are complicated. In his birthplace, Bonn, I visited his former residence where through the introduction, I know more about his tough life. I can now better comprehend his assemblage.



Enjoying sublime Belgian Chocolate.

Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is a beautiful city. The atmosphere is very friendly and lets tourists feel welcome. The streets and buildings are perfectly combining historic elements and modern ones. What impressed us most is the food, especially chocolate. No wonder people say chocolate in Belgium is the best in the world! The sublime taste suprises people and is never dull. Food such as mussels and waffles are also amazing. The Belgians knwo what tastes good. This city is full of vitality.



Weekend in Berlin

Berlin gave us a strong sense that this is a place emphasizing high importance to history. We visited Brandenburg Gate, East Side Gallery, the Holocaust Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie and many other places. World War II strongly influences Berlin, as war inflicted heavy losses on both sides. Living in an era of  peace is such a good thing that should be valued highly.



Hello, Bavaria!

Their last weekend in Germany, E.J. and Halie planned to go to Munich in beautiful Bavaria, and explore this wunderful city. Please return later for a full report.

First Conclusions

Ej portrait

E.J.'s Conclusion

It is a great time staying in ABL with nice and warm-hearted supervisor and colleagues. I was initially a little nervous about staying in a foreign country for almost two months. However, with the company of colleagues and our supervisor, I feel warm and happy. We are all friends now. I am quite delighted to have prepared the speech with my colleagues and taking the lectures with them. These experiences not only provide me the chance to learn how to cooperate with others, but also the opportunity to learn from others.

Gathering with colleagues during which we share a lot of interesting things about our culture, our hobby and so on, is one of the things I ejnjoy the most. It is fantastic to spend such a great time with so many nice people. Thanks again to all the ABL colleagues with all my gratitude.

Halie portrait

Halie's Conclusion

I am very happy that I can work at the ABL. All the colleagues are very nice and kind, and the working atmosphere here is just great. I have lots of chances to experience different tasks at the ABL, to name some examples; visiting school, the textbook centre, creating the homepage and be an assistant in a seminar. These tasks are new to me, but i enjoyed them much.

I really like Cake Tuesday at the ABL. The idea is good; to provide a informal time with colleagues, and let them communicate freely with each other. This activity encourages the team spirit and identity. Also, the team excursion to Wiesbaden was fantastic. It was a very interesting day.

Our Students for the Hong Kong Exchange Programme

Gloria mara klein

Up Next: Gloria and Mara will report about their experiences in Hong Kong

Immediately after E.J. and Halie returned home, Gloria and Mara travelled to Hong Kong to stay six weeks to work for the Education University of Hong Kong. In an answer to E.J. and Halie's experiences, you will find Gloria and Mara's experiences here on our website. Go here for their blog report.

Here is their letter of motivation (in German):

"China ist ein fortschrittlich entwickeltes Land. Die Wirtschaft boomt seit 2017 wieder enorm, das Bildungssystem ist so unterschiedlich zum deutschen, die Architektur herausragend nach Yin und Yang gestaltet und gerade in kultureller Hinsicht ist ganz China sehr besonders.  

Hongkong ist eine der größten Städte Chinas. Als Sonderverwaltungszone an der chinesischen Südküste genießt Hongkong eine Sonderstellung. Der Charme der Großstadt zieht jährlich Millionen von Touristen auf die Halbinsel und die dazugehörigen 263 kleineren Inseln.  Die Universität of education in Hongkong ist laut des QS-rankings die zweit renommierteste Universität in ganz Asien. Viele Studenten aus Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, China Festland, etc. kommen, um ihre Kurse an der Uni zu absolvieren, genauso wie viele internationale Studenten, die für ein Semester das chinesische Bildungssystem miterleben möchten. 

Das Praktikum wird uns sicherlich große Vorteile verschaffen, in Hinblick auf Vorteile und Nachteile verschiedener Bildungssysteme. Wir freuen uns sehr, durch diese Möglichkeit unseren Horizont zu erweitern und dadurch wertvolle Erfahrungen zu sammeln, die wir später in der Schule bewusst anwenden."