My name is Florian Graf and I am a student of Translation of English and Spanish from Saarland University, Saarbruecken, Germany. In my studies, I am required to live in an English-speaking country and to have daily contact with native speakers of English. After an important conversation with one of my professors, the opportunity of moving to Belfast and working at Belfast Royal Academy opened itself to me. I did not hesitate and arrived in Belfast at the end of August 2014. Monday, the 1st of September was my first day as a Language Assistant at Belfast Royal Academy.
I was immediately and warmly greeted by the Head of the Modern Language Department, Paul Porter, who did everything in his power to make my stay and especially my first days at B.R.A. as comfortable as possible. My timetable was already worked out and I was made familiar with my responsibilities during my stay here. The first few weeks were a time of meeting many new people, teachers at B.R.A. who would soon become colleagues and friends. Soon I had a certain routine and looked forward to tea breaks in the cafeteria or having a packed lunch in the staff room together with the teachers of the Modern Language Department.
I immensely enjoyed teaching German to A-Level students, who already had an astonishing knowledge of German. The work with them was rewarding and teaching to myself more than I could have imagined. I also had other responsibilities, such as conducting Spanish conversation class or practising English with two students who were native speakers of Chinese. I would sometimes be asked to cover for absent teachers or to come along on out of class activities, things that were welcome opportunities to see aspects of B.R.A. outside of the Language Department.
When I was not in B.R.A. during weekends or vacations, I took the opportunity to travel the country or explore Belfast. I learned many things about my new city and soon felt at home. Visiting the Giant’s Causeway was awe-inspiring. During the Christmas Break I was able to spend time in London and Cardiff, places I will definitely want to visit again. One of the last things I did in Belfast and which turned out to be one of the most rewarding, was hiking Cavehill and taking in the view over the whole city from the top.
After seven months, my time here is now coming to an end. I am looking forward to going home again, but I am going to miss Belfast. More than that, I will miss the people who have made my stay here so incredibly rewarding and I will make sure to see them all again soon.