I started German class again this week. We had been on break since Christmas, and I had to study for a whole month so that I wouldn't forget everything I'd learned. So it was a relief to go back to class and no longer be responsible for teaching myself. This class is a little more intense - 3 classes a week for 2 hours each time. And while I really liked my teacher last semester, we did a lot of icebreakers and kindergarten-type games. Of course, when you can't even speak as well as a kindergartner that may be appropriate. This semester I hope to advance to first or second grade conversation.
My classmates are interesting to me - finding out where they are from, why they are here, how long they've been here, etc. On the first day we had to talk to everyone and learn where they come from and what languages they speak. Here's a partial list:
Hoa - Vietnam - Vietnamese
Ibrahim - Azerbaijan - Russian
Mohamen - Afghanistan - Persian
Miriam - Spain - Spanish
Ronak - Iraq - Kurdish
James - Zimbabwe - English
Ai Xi - China - Mandarin Chinese
Andrey - Kazakstan - Russian
You get the idea. I also have classmates from Eritrea, Lebanon, Georgia, and Russia. There is even a girl from the US who is an au pair here. During our second class, we had to talk in small groups to practice speaking and get to know each other. I was talking with Ronak from Iraq and Betu from Eritrea. When Ronak heard I was from the US, she started asking hard questions. "Isn't it hard there for people who have to live off of social assistance?" Well, yes, compared to Germany anyway. "I heard that it's hard to get health care there, and expensive." Yes, for sure. "So, how much would it cost, if I had to have an operation in the hospital?" If Ronak only knew how much I know about this issue and how hard it is to explain the health care system in English.... I managed to say that some people have insurance through work, others through the government, others have private insurance, and some don't have any, and it costs a different amount for all of them. The health care system makes even less sense when you say it in German.
Ronak also told me (she's chatty) that she has lived here 16 years and taken a lot of classes and that our teacher is the best she's had. I am not sure how to interpret that, if she's still in an advanced beginner class after 16 years. I guess she would know.
I decided yesterday that I should keep sitting next to Miriam when I can. First of all, I can speak a little Spanish with her and she seems to enjoy it (she speaks some English too). Second, she knows more than I do and if I'm her partner I will probably learn something from her. She has only been here since September but is in a university course for public relations, all in German. After the first day when I decided I don't want to sit next to Hoa. She who is tiny and cute, and insists loudly that her answers are right when they aren't. It's also not a great idea to sit with Kassem from Lebanon, who is really nice but doesn't do his homework and smells like cigarettes.
I have a good feeling about this class - like I might start to pick up things faster now that I have the very basics down. Maybe by the end I will even hold my own with some third graders.
- 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.