3 Weeks Down!
Hallo von Saarland.
This past Sunday officially marked three full weeks here in Germany. I wish I had the words to describe all my feelings and thoughts since arriving. Unfortunately, most days I can hardly articulate what I feel in one single moment, but I will try my best using the form that best suits my sporadic mind, the classic list!
SOME THOUGHTS AND FEELS FROM (ALMOST) A MONTH IN GERMANY
presented with the closest thing my brain can muster to structure by topic :)
LEARNING A LANGUAGE-
Here in Saarbrücken, I attend language school Monday through Friday. I am in a class of 12 students and two teachers. The teachers rotate days, so teacher 1 is Monday, Tuesday and teacher 2 is the rest of the week. During college, I never had the opportunity to take a class that was co-taught or multi-departmental, so this is my first experience working with two instructors. Overall, while there are some small learning curves I think having multiple teachers is helpful especially for language learning. Both teachers here in Saarbrücken have very different teaching styles. The first is far more free form in her instruction and spends much of the day simply conversing with us in German. The second teacher is incredibly structured and plans the class down to the 5-minute mark. With him, we always know exactly what is expected of us and complete lots of worksheets, but less time is left for open speaking time. Having both of these approaches has landed me in a space in the middle where I find I can build my grammar with the worksheets but have the opportunity to grow my vocabulary through conversation. Additionally, it is always nice to hear important words spoken by two different native speakers to ensure that you are not also learning one specific person's accent or speech patterns that may prevent you from understanding another person's slightly different pronunciation in the future. The comedy of this situation to me lies in the fact that despite being incredibly communicative with one another and combining to make an incredible class the teachers have direct opposite catchphrases. Teacher one seeks to sympathize with our frustrations when we feel overwhelmed and often reassures the class by saying “Deutsch ist Schwer”. Teacher Two on the other hand always seeks to explain and simplify and will keep chipping at a topic until we say “Alles Klar'' to which he responds “Ahhh, Deutsch ist Einfach” So in terms of intensive language courses, Deutsch ist…….. Well, it depends on the day.
Getting better = Getting worse
Oh, this is a fun one. Not only can I not speak perfect German yet, now I can’t quite speak English either. Anyone who has studied German knows that the word order is quite different from English. Ex: Ich habe gestern ein buch gelessn. (I have yesterday a book read.) or Sie kommt nach schule mir mit. (She comes to school me with). Since we spend 6 hours each day in language school learning and speaking German, I have found myself accidentally carrying this word order with me even when I switch back to English. I just tell myself it means I’m learning, and try to look at it as a good thing. But the true answer seems to be to just allow myself to laugh when I accidentally say “I have last night a bagel eaten.”
LIFE WITH ANOTHER FAMILY:
I can officially say a little touch of homesickness has set in. Nothing unbearable, as I have a truly wonderful family here in Germany. But I do get a little tear in my eye when I remember I still have 10 months till I get to pet my dogs.
It's just more.
Stateside I have a wonderful family of only 4 people, here in Germany I am one in a household of 13. As you could probably imagine there is a bit more noise, sometimes a bit more mess, often a bit more chaos, but I have also been overwhelmed at every turn when I find more love, more laughter, and more memories than I could have ever imagined.
BACK IN SCHOOL
After being out of school for 1.5 years, it is not the most fun to have someone had you a graded test and feel all that anxiety come flooding back. That being said the pursuit of knowledge and occupying a space where questions are encouraged and people are all working to put more in their brain than they arrived with is a dream. I think I could stay in school forever if they let me.
How old are we again?
Finding the balance between being an adult and being a student is interesting because I pay my own bills…… but I also need permission to go to the bathroom.
OTHER QUIRKY CULTURE THINGS (observations you may find interesting)
Here are the largest differences I have noticed in my first few weeks in Germany
Public Transportation is a dream. I can take a bus absolutely anywhere in town and be there in under an hour. For a person like me without a car, this is a dream.
Dinner is late. Like, we eat around 8:30 PM late. For someone who spent the last few months living with her retired parents, this is about 4 hrs later than normal for me.
I officially made the switch from an American to a European wallet and I hope this will help me to get more on board with the 1 and 2 euro coins. In a country where cash is king, I’m feeling a little weighed down by my 2-pound wallet, but I’m hoping this is a step in the right direction.
While I'm happy to make some changes to assimilate to the culture (talking a little quieter in the public spaces, working to learn the language) there are a few pieces of my culture I am proud to carry with me. When I find I have a sidewalk to myself, it feels nice to swing my arms and take up as much space as I want. When I hear a song I know in public, I will still sing along. And most importantly, when I pass someone, stranger or friend, I will smile at them. It's just the way it is.
There are moments when I am completely struck by how wonderful it is that I am here, then there are other moments in which I'm not sure I actually believe that I am here….
I’ll keep you updated on how this progresses. I will work to keep writing, it helps me to understand how I'm feeling. Yesterday I had the most amazing birthday celebration, so get ready for a riveting account of the day's events and the newly-more-mature musing of a 23 yr old.
I'd like to try something out at the end of these posts. A little reoccurring segment if you will :)
This is something I'd like to call my 'Vielen Dank' which translates to many thanks! Basically, just 3 quick things I'm grateful for before I get to the pictures for the week.
EINS) Our two German teachers, who despite us often running out of brain power 10 minutes into the day, still manage to teach us for 6 hrs!
ZWEI) The German Bus Drivers. Almost every bus driver I've had here has said 'hallo' or 'Guten Morgen' to me when I bord the bus and let me tell you, at 7 am that makes a difference!
DREI) My sweet sweet friends back home who don't get annoyed when I send them 10 messages at two AM their time..... sorry!
And now…… enjoy some photos!
Captioned by row right to left
Daily bus commute with Elise and Deb
Our sweet baby bunnies
A day trip to Trier with the sisters (see tiktok vlog)
Host sister dinner date
A mornign walk in France
Saarschleife (one of the most beautiful bits of river like, ever)
I don't think I will ever stop grinning like this
Host sister on the way to the lake
bis zum nächsten Mal