Published: April 4th 2007April 4th 2007
Guten tag aus Deutchland!
I am taking German lessons from F + U University (I still dont know what that stands for) in Heidelburg, Germany for the next two weeks. Learning a new language is like cracking open an antique book: I can actually feel the dust sloughing off inside my brain.
Why are you taking German?
1. I hate being a mongolot. Americans are ubiquitously known for being monolingual. Communication is crutial. While visiting a country, you should certainly TRY to communicate with the locals. They appreciate the effort and its good for you.
2. I will be in Germany for almost a month, and wanted something to tie me to a place. After wandering the continent for six months, I needed a place to unpack my bags. Granted, its not a long time, but sleeping in the same bed for more than two nights has been incredibly refreshing. I wanted to see the same people for more than three days before moving on. I wanted to get to know one place intimately and be able to get around without use of a map.
3. I wanted to learn. I have
learned so much about myself and the world while on this journey, but I needed a challenge and maybe I just missed school. Now I have enrolled in an intensive German language course with textbooks, homework and all!
Today was my third day of German and already I have learned numbers 1-1000, introductions, kitchen appliances and now articles of speech. A friend suggested yesterday that in its early days, America was such a cacophony languages and cultures that people just eliminated all of the grammar in order to communicate. For example, we have one word for "the". German has nine. They divide articles into 3 genders; much like French, Italian and Spanish. Objects can be masculine, feminine, or neutral. Who decided "trashcan" would be female and "cooking pot" would be male? And what makes a sink neutral? After determining what gender an object is, you must next consider whether someone is talking about a direct object (that particular refrigerator) or an indefinite object (just some old fridge). This will lead you to one of the articles: die, das, and der for definite singular articles and ein, eine, ein for singular indefinite articles. Dont even get me started on
plural or negative articles.
Another interesting fact about German is that there is a word just for German speakers that were born outside of Germany: Ausländer. How elite. Even with this intensive language course, Im afraid Ill never be an ausländer.
My teacher describes our class as very "internacional!" and its true. We are a group of 10 from all different countries: four Japanese girls with their golden pens and electronic translators, a leering pizzabächer from Turkey, Sonia from Portugal, the androgynous Bolivian, Vomit boy, and my best friend Rita.
Vomit Boy is from Israel, and left because of the violence there. He has a dream to live in the United States as a graphic designer. I cant help but recall the image from Friday's party of his mouth opening to became a waterfall of vomit that emptied the entire contents of his stomach. Hence his nickname.
Rita is a 40 year old Italian from Milano who moved to Germany to be with her husband after 10 years of the couple living in seperate countries. Talk about a long-distance relationship! They fed me "American chocolate chip cookies" at their flat and took me to a bar last night to watch the Milano-Bayern soccer match. Rita and I were the only females in the bar and had a good time ignoring the game.
As if the class work and school experience werent enough, I am living in a college dormitory too. Flashbacks to college life burst into my mind as I moved in. My room is "fully furnished" with a bed, desk, bureau, and chair. I can even open the window! The communal bathroom was a reminder that I will never live in this quality of accomodation again. Ever.
It took me less than 5 minutes to unpack my bag. It was laughable how little I had with me and the fact that it took up a fraction of the space in my "closet". At least it isnt difficult to decide what to wear every day.
Time to do some homework! Luckily, the four-day Easter weekend is ahead...