Are vidyamandir classes good for IIT
Bala Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School, Chennai, India (English / Social Studies)
Period: July 2019- December 2019 | School information:here
Preparation of the internship abroad
In preparation for the internship semester, getting a visa for India was particularly difficult. Despite two months' lead time, I got my visa at the airport about 2 hours before departure. The difficulty here is that you should not apply for a work visa, but a certain type of “student visa” (in my case s-6). The school was contacted via the Goethe-Institut and my supervisor there. In the further course of this description it will also come out how much I owe the Goethe-Institut for supporting me in many ways. In advance, I did not have to deal with representatives of the school, but exclusively with the Goethe Institute. It is not necessary to report specifically anywhere in India after entering the country. It should be mentioned at this point that the government itself does not know exactly how many people live in the country. The last census / census took place in 2011. Taking out travel health insurance is strongly recommended, but my health insurance (Debeka) is not recommended (bad service, no answers and then a demand for additional payment).
For visa reasons, flight tickets must be booked in advance for both flights. I paid a total of 700 euros, which is also due to the fact that I only booked about a month and a half in advance. The outward flight cost around 500 euros, but the return flight only cost around 200 euros. However, there are also costs for the visa, so it is generally advisable to apply for a scholarship. Otherwise, spending would definitely have become a problem for me. I didn't pack too much and almost completely foregone buying something for the trip, as everything is much cheaper in India due to the relationship between the currencies. I have also adjusted myself to completely change my lifestyle, so that I only have to rely on products that are available there. This is definitely to be recommended, if you try to continue living there in a “German way” you will have to accept a lot of inconveniences, difficulties and ultimately frustration.
A few more words about the language and India: In India, English is the official language, but people usually converse in the local languages in the case of Chennai and all of Tamil Nadu (the state in which it is located) is Tamil.
SIM card: Not that easy to get in India, very complicated registration. It's best to find someone who can leave one to you.
I arrived a few days before my work at the school started. I spent the first 3 days in the hotel, kindly paid for by the Goethe-Institut, before moving into my room. That was because it had to become free first. During this time I learned to deal with the bus network, which takes some getting used to (buses leave as soon as they are full, a lot is only labeled in Tamil, timetables or route plans are not available and the Internet also provides very inadequate information). My room was arranged for me through the school, mainly because it is very conveniently located (10 minutes' walk from the school). I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, though. I don't exactly have high demands on my living situation, but finding my way around this room was a challenge. I'm grateful that I had a separate room to make, that doesn't apply to my 6 roommates. There was a ceiling fan though. But that hardly beat the damp heat and lack of ventilation. Under these conditions, even a belt will go moldy within a few days if you just let it hang on the wardrobe. In addition, there were regular problems with water and electricity. Well, you can always find your way around, but the accommodation was often an unnecessary difficulty in everyday life. Accordingly, I don't have any good tips when it comes to housing, I can only wish you good luck in this regard.
The costs there for some things are ridiculously low (food, textiles, public transport) while the costs for other things (accommodation, technology, luxury goods) are closer to the European level. Therefore it is important to be careful not to spend too much money, precisely because everything is so cheap or you underestimate the prices of things because you think “everything is cheap here anyway”.
My room cost 8,000 rupees a month (130 euros) and daily expenses without “shopping” are between 300 and 800 rupees a day, i.e. between 10,000 and 20,000 rupees a month. So between 125 euros and 200 euros. However, these are only very rough guidelines.
In terms of funding, I had the Schulwärts scholarship from the Goethe Institute (3000 euros) + around 230 euros per month of foreign student loans. However, one should not rashly assume 1000 euros per month because of course the expenses for flights, visas and insurance have to be added, which in my case amounted to over 1000 euros (around 1100). I bought a foreign credit card that sometimes worked and sometimes didn't. However, this is less due to the card than more to the corresponding ATM. Even if an ATM can usually be found, it is advisable to always have a reserve of cash, as the ATMs are by no means reliable (I remember one case when I wanted to pay my rent and all 7 (!) In the neighborhood were defective). It is also useful to find out about cash withdrawal fees in advance.
At my school I have found a very hierarchical organizational structure with the school director at the top, followed by the vice director and then the respective heads of departments for the various departments. My mentor was the vice director, whose role at the school, however, involves a lot of responsibility for everyday organizational processes (while the principal is more responsible for representing the school to the outside world) and so did not leave much time for my supervision. I found a more valuable mentor in the head of the English department, who sits next to me in the staff room. I had a lot to do with her, as well as with the head of the “Social Studies” department, as I coordinated my lessons and observations with them. It should be noted that the atmosphere in the school is very familiar and I was looked after very kindly. For example, my colleagues regularly brought me lunch. There is also the fact that everyday school life is regulated much more flexibly than in Germany and so my “timetable” has varied greatly and I usually clarified with my colleagues at the beginning of the week which special circumstances need to be observed in the coming week and what mine are It is best to bring in hours and observations.
At first I concentrated on the internships and only taught sporadically and gave input on topics and then after about a month I also taught more and had teaching units given to me on various topics.
Classes start at 8:50 am, but the students arrive at 8 am. Often the day begins with a school meeting or a meeting of a certain level (lower, middle or upper level) where various current issues are discussed. The students sit on the ground in the school yard. For me it was always some time to see what was coming up for the day and which hours I had planned and of course what special circumstances need to be taken into account (in addition to the large number of public holidays, there are often internal school events such as MUN, Science-Expo or various contests or tournaments). Most of the time I had a few hours of observation and / or lessons during the day and in between some free hours that I spent in the teacher's room with work for the practical semester or in the chess room or in the school yard with the students.
I carried out a project on identity and subculture for the Goethe-Institut in which the students made a great impression on me and exceeded all my expectations. My efforts were also very much appreciated by the teaching staff and, if possible, accepted and supported.
A typical class has between 35 and 40 students. In addition to the secondary school, the school also consists of a primary + kindergarten. For the most part, I taught grades 5-8, as there are important exams in grades 10 and 12, and in India the pressure on both teachers and students is much greater than it is here. The schools are mostly private schools and a top performance is necessary to assert oneself on the free market of educational institutions. My work day usually ended at 4:40 pm. Often, however, I stayed longer to take part in the afternoon sports activities.
Outside of school, I occasionally took part in youth camps and events for the Goethe-Institut, which was very rewarding both personally and financially. Chennai is a relatively orthodox city in southeast India that has experienced a strong boom, especially due to the IT industry. Nevertheless, it is less cosmopolitan than other major Indian cities such as Bangalore, Dehli or Mumbai. The local Tamil culture plays a big role in everyday life as well as politically. There are many large and small Hindu temples and shrines throughout the city, and most families have small house altars and are actively practicing their religion. It is therefore advisable to better understand the people and the place to deal with Hindu culture, mythology and philosophy. You will quickly find out that many “strange” things that one come across in everyday life definitely have their meaning and often shape people's lives in a fascinating way. Chennai has a very distinctive culture and music scene in the area of traditional South Indian (Carnatic) music and the dances associated with it. In addition, most of the cultural events are very cheap (a maximum of 10 euros between 1-5) or even free. In addition, there are of course the city's beaches which are quite fascinating to experience and in general Indian life is so exciting and varied that a few steps on the road for sightseeing are often enough.
However, my recommendation would be, if you live in such a city, to take every opportunity to get out of the city into the country, where nature can still be admired and a completely different India can be seen in general. In retrospect, I don't think I would have preferred to have done something differently. I am very grateful that I was allowed to have this experience, which also made it easier for me to familiarize myself with the role of “teacher”. If you are forced to change your behavior anyway, it is also easier to get involved in your role in a professional context.
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