In early September, I started taking German classes at the Volkshochschule (pronounced folks-hock-shoo-la). It's run by the city - so it's basically like adult ed or community ed. I had a hard time deciding between the intensive class, which was 4 hours a day for 3 or 4 days a week, and the evening class. This was the day when Brian said to me, and I was paralyzed with indecision, "let me get this straight - you are stressed out because you're worried you won't learn German fast enough?" I went with the evening class since I wasn't sure how substitute teaching would go and how available I would need to be.
So Tuesday and Thursday evenings I go to level A1 German class. The levels are A, B, and C and each has two steps. A1 means "no, I really don't know any German." There are anywhere from 8 to 12 people in my class. Every week we seem to get someone new, and we have lost a few along the way too. Inge, our teacher, just keeps on teaching and expects them to catch up. Inge is perhaps the most cheerful German I have met so far. She talks to us entirely in German, draws a lot of pictures, and repeats herself a lot. Some of the things we do in class are like what you would do in 2nd grade. We have to start class by tossing a bean bag toy to our classmates while saying their names. Last night we did some pretend shopping at a pretend bakery and pretend grocery store. There is a lot of giggling, but it works.
I am the only American in our class and one of about 4 people who speak English. I know the stories of some of my classmates, so I will tell you about them.
Yashar is from Iran, and is studying German so that he can go to flight school in Germany and become a pilot. He told me (slowly, in German) that this would take 7 or 8 years. He applied in England also, but the visa for Germany came through first so here he is. He's probably about 20 and has long shaggy hair. He is also taking German classes in the daytime at 2 other schools. I am not sure why this is a good idea, since all the classes are level A1, but he is certainly dedicated.
Antonio is from Spain. He's here for work but I'm not sure what he does. He always sits in the corner with Yashar, and I have never seen him wear anything other than Addidas jogging suits. He has a lot of them. We've talked a little in Spanish but not too much.
Ibrahim is Lebanese. He is a big guy with tattoos, and seemed kind of tough until one day when he brought his German - Lebanese wife to class with him and she kept correcting him and telling him what to do. He has started to also sit in the corner with the other two.
Ellie is an Australian au pair living with a German family here. She talks a lot, loudly, in English and laughs a lot too. I like her. She already had her mittens on last night when it was 55 degrees. She's going to have a hard time dealing with winter, so I offered to help her shop for a coat.
Laure is Scottish and has crazy curly red hair. She is an intern at Tui, which is a big travel company based in Hannover.
Boyang is Chinese but attending a university in Australia. He is an intern with Continental tires, also based in Hannover.
Rossana is Italian. So is Rafaele. Rafele is kind of short with these shifty eyes that somehow look in another direction even when he looks at you. He fits the stereotype - he interrupts the teacher a lot and likes to be right. In class he speaks some combination of German and Italian (I call it Deutaliano) and tries to make jokes. The jokes don't work so well because none of us really understand them.
Last night, Rossana and Rafaele had a conversation at the end of class about certifications or degrees or something. I could understand about half of what they said, just because it was so similar to Spanish. When they picked up on the fact that I was listening, Rafaele started talking to me in Deutaliano, and explained that his dialect was closer to Spanish because the Catalunians took over Sardinia for 300 years. Then the AV guy came in to pick up the CD player, and started talking to us in Spanish too, because his parents are from Spain. Antonio joined in as well. It was a cool mix of languages.
So this is my group for the rest of the semester. I don't know what I will do for classes come January - I might stay at the Volkshochschule or check out a different school. For now, though, I am enjoying acting like a second grader a couple of nights a week.
- Thanks for coming to my blog. It started as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and now has become an ongoing project. I'm an American living in Germany and trying to travel whenever I can. I write about my experiences as an expatriate (the interesting ones and the embarrassing ones), and about my travels. There are some recurring characters in this blog, particularly my husband Brian and several of our friends. The title comes from the idea that living in a foreign country means making a lot of mistakes. So the things you used to do easily you now have to try over and over again. Hopefully, like me, you can laugh at how idiotic it feels. If you have happened upon my blog, then welcome. Knowing that people are reading what I write makes me keep going. Feel free to write comments or suggestions for future posts.