Tell us your name and what country you are visiting from?
Erja – My name is Erja-Emely Scheffler, but everyone just calls me Erja. I come from Germany, from Berlin to be precise. My name is also quite an unusual name for Germany! That’s more because my name is of Finnish origin, because my mother wanted a name for me that doesn’t exist so often. The meaning is ‘the freeborn’ and in itself fits quite well to me and my nature.
Felix – Hey, my name is Felix Diehl, I am 19 years old and come from Germany. I am originally from a small village right in the middle of Germany near Frankfurt.
What is your favourite thing about your home town?
Erja – The best thing is that you have so many possibilities to keep yourself busy or to do something. Whether it’s cultural, artistic or intellectual education, or just hitting the shopping malls and clubs, there’s something for everyone in this city. And if you want to eat your way through the world’s cuisine, Berlin is the city for you. It’s very diverse and you’ll often find places where history meets modernity. Berlin is also very multicultural, so you’ll meet people from all over the world, which is pretty cool.
Felix – I really like the German country life with its associated traditions, e.g. the German carnival, which is unfortunately not a common thing in England, but you may have heard about the street carnival in Cologne.
Why did you want to do voluntary time in England?
Erja – I wanted to do this mainly to gain life experience, to improve my English and above all to face new challenges. I was ready for an adventure. It was more of a coincidence that I chose England. Originally, I wanted to go to New Zealand to work as a school assistant, but due to Corona this was unfortunately not possible. In my preparation seminar from my sender organisation, I heard about a project in Scotland where young adults with physical and mental disabilities are supported. I liked the philosophy very much, which is why I first went to Scotland, Aberdeen, to the Camphill School. After 6 months there, however, I wanted something new and my sender organisation suggested the Tring Park School of Performing Arts, which is how I ended up here.
Felix – Since the end of February I joined Tring Park School as a gap volunteer and am assisting in Clock House as well as in the academic department. For a long time I have wanted to spend a gap year abroad after having finished my A-levels in Germany to improve my English language skills and get to know school life from a different perspective.
What attracted you to Tring Park School?
Erja – I think I was particularly fascinated by the performing arts part. I’ve already tried out such things myself, of course more as a child and not on such a professional level as here. But I’ve always been into acting, ballet dancing and singing, so it was just cool to get the opportunity to work at a school like this and watch young talents rise above themselves and deliver incredible performances.
Felix – I was very happy when I heard that my voluntary organization matched me with Tring Park School as I always had a passion about music and dancing. All in all, Tring Park School is an awesome place to be: Everyone is incredibly kind, the students are extremely talented and I really have had a good time so far!
What is the main difference you’ve noticed about education in England and your home country?
Erja – Unfortunately, I have only been here for too short a time to be able to make a real judgement. But I will try… Maybe that German teachers are a bit stricter about the volume in classrooms and that they also end the lessons, no one is allowed to leave or pack up earlier. That was almost sacred for our teachers. If you did pack up earlier, it was not uncommon that you had to unpack your school things again until the teacher said that the lesson was over for today. The favourite phrases of teachers in Germany are by far: “I’m ending the lesson”, “You can be heard all the way into the staff room” and “You are not learning for me, but for life…” Just to name a few! Maybe the teachers here are a little bit more accommodating and tolerant when it comes to loud voices and work ethic.
Felix – I have already experienced some differences between English and German schools as we do not have a lot of private or boarding schools in Germany.
What surprised you most about Tring Park School?
Erja – How friendly the people are here, the people in Scotland are already quite friendly, but here it takes on a completely different dimension. I was very pleasantly surprised and the students are very friendly, courteous and extremely polite, it is fun to work here and to go in touch with them.
Felix – Experiencing boarding life for the first time was definitely very interesting. I am keen on getting to know even more differences and benefiting from the new learned cultural experiences.
In ten years, where would you like to be living and what would you like to be doing?
Erja – Uh, that’s a question that’s a bit tricky… I think I would like to live in Germany, but I don’t know where exactly I will end up in Germany. It would be cool if I already worked in a large company, i.e. in the HR department and in an Entrepreneurial Human Resources Management Department. I could fly around the world to give presentations internationally. The focus would be on the restructuring of large companies, how to make them more profitable and qualitative and how to better instruct the company’s employees to work more efficiently in the same time without breaking themselves. In short, I would like to work as a businesswomen internationally, in a managerial position.
Felix – When I return to Germany in July, I am going to attend university to become a maths and English teacher at a German secondary school. Thus, in ten years, I am hopefully a fully trained teacher, who can benefit from the things I have learned while spending time at Tring Park School!