A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about language

Frühes Thanksgiving

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my first time in Augsburg with a decent handle on German. i am surprised and excited by how it went. with Leonie it’s especially wonderful and easy. we can switch back and forth between English and German pretty naturally, and i spoke more German with her than English. at our early Thanksgiving dinner i saw Nora and Vinz for the first time, and we didn’t schaf a lot of Deutsch; but the next day over coffee, Nora and i spoke quite a lot of German. then Nora said,

„see? wir können es schaffen.“ pause. „und es ist nur ein bisschen komisch.“

„was denn?“ fragte ich. „meinst du, auf Deutsch mit mir zu reden?“

„ja. nur ein bisschen.“

naturally she’s right – it is a little weird to speak German together, after two and a half years of English. but i’m at the point where we can do it. it is still hard to talk to more than one person; the conversation tends to run very quickly for me, and either i get lost or don’t have quite enough time to react. but it’s immer besser.

Augsburg is getting gussied up for Weihnachten (Christmas). on the way to catch my train back to Berlin, Leonie and i walked through the Christkindlmarkt. “Christmas always makes me not cynical,” she said. she is convinced that she’s generally cynical, but i don’t totally believe that. we had a really wonderful few days together. on Saturday we went to the Lamm (one of the few Aux clubs/bars) for a singer/songwriter contest and Mieze, who’s working with Leonie on her pop-theater-project AUXTSCH, won. we got up early Sunday to go to church in the little Dorf where Leonie’s Oma lives. the morning was foggy and cold (much colder right now in Southern Germany than in Berlin).

Posted by ctamler 06:19 Archived in Germany Tagged language holidays Comments (0)

things i can do now that i definitely couldn't 2 months ago

  • call a theater and reserve tickets in German (thanks for helping me prove myself not 30 seconds ago, Hebbel am Ufer)
  • understand the basic content of a German movie/play without subtitles...even if it is super weird...though probably excluding highfalutin language
  • cook from a German recipe without much consultation of a Wörterbuch
  • have full conversations in German

weirdly, though, i often have trouble following the news...

Posted by ctamler 09:21 Archived in Germany Tagged language Comments (0)

Surfing Couches, Hunting Apartments

semi-overcast 16 °C
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day one in Berlin: after a restless sleep on the train from Augsburg (thanks, snoring man) and trekking all over the city since arriving that morning to look at WG-Zimmer after WG-Zimmer, i drag myself up three flights of stairs to Johanna's apartment. it's already nearly 10pm and my plan for the evening involves checking email and sleeping, not necessarily in that order. however, i'm intercepted by Jon and Jan, who offer me a gin and tonic. "what are your plans for tonight?" they ask. "i'm just going to stay in," i answer. i also say something about how when i travel, i'm usually only up for either running around all day long OR checking out the nightlife -- some people can do both, i guess, but not me.

six and a half hours later, we leave the last club of the night. hello, Berlin.

the WG hunt is interesting. there is a lot out there, but also a lot of people looking. after two days of it, i have a much better idea of where i want to live and what kind of rent i want to pay. it's looking likely that i'll end up in an apartment in Friedrichshain with a horoscope writer (or as she says, "writer of bullshit") for a month or two...cheap, one of the areas in which i'd most like to live, and that way i can take my time looking for something else to last through July.

balconies are very important around here. they always seem to be a bit of a selling point. bathtubs are also apparently important. in Berlin the street numbers wrap around. so on one side of the street the numbers are increasing in size, on the other side they're decreasing -- rather than odds on one side, evens on the other. individual apartments don't tend to have numbers; you just have to know the inhabitant's Nachname so you know which bell to ring.

everyone bikes. EVERYONE bikes. i need a bike.

the Freie Universität is a bit of a hike from the city. i knew that from visiting last year, but this morning was an emphatic reminder, as i left the apartment of the girl i'm CouchSurfing with at 6:45 and didn't get to the FU til a little after 8:00 (okay, later, because i got so unbelievably lost). but the distance is nice, in a lot of ways. there's a lot of green around campus. it's a change of pace from the city. i guess we'll see how i feel about that after six weeks of daily language lessons here. three hours a day. i guess i'll learn a thing or two.

here's my embarrassment of the week. i knew Jon was British; i'd never met Jan before, but the two had been chatting away in English, both with very British accents. so i assumed Jan was British, too. "what about you, how's your German?"

"well...i'm from Germany," Jan answered.

i don't feel too stupid over that, though, because even after i knew he was German i couldn't detect the accent, which is rarely if ever the case -- i've gotten pretty used to the German-British flavor of accent.

shortly i'll be finding out how my German is, thanks to some kind of intense placement test i'm about to take. (i'll give you a hint: the answer has the words "very," "good," and "not" in it, in some order.) then the language course starts for real tomorrow, and hopefully life will start to develop a bit of a routine. meanwhile, thank goodness for couchsurfing.org, Fabienne, and her ridiculously adorable bunny, Jimmy.

Posted by ctamler 13:22 Archived in Germany Tagged language educational couchsurfing wg Comments (0)

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