Monday, August 1, 2011

Gauss Gymnasium

In Germany school is specialized into different devisions. If you attempt to go to university later, best is to go to a Gymnasium after elementary school, which is a school for higher education. When I was 13 years old I therefore started to attend a Gymnasium. Because my dad had high aspirations for me, he tried to get me admitted to a school with special emphasis on mathematics and natural sciences. The school's name was Carl-Friedrich Gauss Gymnasium in Frankfurt (Oder) and it was about 30 min car ride away from my hometown. For the first year we decided that I would live in a boarding house, to be able to fully concentrate on school. At first I was a little bit scared, of the school and of the boarding house, but my concerns quickly disappeared. 

In the boarding house we shared rooms with two or three roommates. At first I was in a room with two girls, who were for former standards a little bit boring, they mainly read books and did homework. Probably they were a good influence, but not what a 13 year old is craving for. However, I remember reading one of their books which was a story about a little stone age girl named Ayla, which I still think about sometimes.

I do not really know why, but somehow after a while I was transferred to another room with much cooler girls. Now the party started. The boys would secretly sneak into our room at night, we would play jokes on the teachers and now my parents would get weekly complaints from one of the teachers. Luckily and somewhat surprisingly, my parents were somewhat annoyed to be bothered with these weekly updates about my misbehavior and they never disciplined me for it. Thinking back that time seemed like a life time, however, all together I only spend about one year in the boarding house.

I never showered in the boarding house. It sounds gross, but although the teachers were always concerned about boys hanging out with girls, somehow the showers were mixed and even worse, there were no curtains. Although I am not a very shy person in that respect, being an 13 year old teenager, I decided to use a wash cloth in the girls bath room instead.

Very popular were the boarding house rolls. Every morning we could go downstairs into a big dining hall and have breakfast. Usually some rolls that you made sandwiches from. Now it happened, that a handful of older guys moved out from the boarding house into their own apartment. As you can imagine, they never had money and because they were teenage boys, they were always hungry. Therefore, I and my roommate would every morning prepare a big grocery bag full of sandwiches, which we would hang on a branch in the smoker corner of the school, that is were we met every morning.

At the end of that school year, the administration decided to close the house because it was not very economical. I did not like the other boarding house very much, so we decided with my parents that from now on I would commute by train every morning and live at home again. I guess it was better for my results at school. But the time at the boarding house was very rich and thinking back I can hardly imagine that I only spend one year there.