By Alice Rottersman
Germany. Every week things get better and better….and everything was great to start! According to the show Scrubs, having a child is like having a dog that slowly learns to talk. I think this applies to exchange students as well. For the first few weeks or so, all I could really do was follow people around. I couldn’t really speak, so I was left to just sort of stand and observe awkwardly. I was even taken on car rides; naturally, I resisted the urge to stick my head out the window.
But, some time in this past month, it dawned on me that I am now a fully formed person (again). I know where I am going; I can find my house (I had gotten very lost on my way home from school three days in a row). My German is still awful, but I can have a conversation. I’ve figured out my host family’s style…how they roll. I’ve also figured out how my school works. I just know where to be now in general. It’s that knowledge and the ability to communicate that have really changed things.
I understand German a lot better than I can speak it. I was so subconsciously afraid to speak before- I knew whatever came out would be wrong. However, I’ve now learned that sometimes anything is better than silence- even garble. So I talk a lot now. I speak terribly; my grammar is all over the place, and when I don’t know a word (which is often) I say the English one with an accent or whatever random German word pops into mind. But, I’m sure the practice will pay off.
I’m not so sure, however, that some of my German courses will. The daily one is great- it’s with only me and another exchange student (from Brazil). It’s where I get to speak the most German- we’re all good friends so we sit around a talk, and Lynn, the teacher, corrects us when our German gets too awful. The semiweekly one is way too easy. It’s with adults in the city. The teacher recently figured out that I finish my worksheets in a sixteenth of the time it takes the others. Now she gives me extra material, but I hope it gets harder soon. The weekly one is great- it gets right to the point- but it’s only once a week. I don’t think it matters too much; I am in the ultimate Deutschkurs all the time anyway….it’s called “Living in Germany”.
All of the extra courses take place during school. I don’t miss too much, just some gym, physics, bio, latin and history. Speaking of school, I have a 1 (A) in all the classes that they care to grade me in: English, Latin, Gym, Math, Chem, and Art. It’s very strange; this is probably the most challenging (in a good way) year of my life, but, without the intensity of school, I feel like a wet noodle. Math class is so easy it makes me a little crazy. And not having grades that count confuses me. I feel too relaxed; I need more stress! Well, after school is more my speed; there’s karate and orchestra (I play the trombone [badly]) twice a week. They’re just the right difficulty level.
Well…this was just one big rant, wasn’t it? I’m sure some anecdotes would’ve been nice. Next time. I have a lot more to say…mostly about food. Next time for sure.
P.S. I made a joke to my host mom about how sad I was there were no lederhösen. Now my host father is buying me some at Oktoberfest. Coolest thing ever!