how to survive in Germany, Deutschland without cultural barriers, best and worst of Germany
There were already few times when I was astonished by my brain capability to learn a new language. And as you might guess it is German this time!
Within the last two years there were moments when I bumped into some kind of an obvious milestone. And each time I though, I should now write about it and share with you guys. Just to give hope to people to whom German looks so difficult to lean and who struggle on the way. Just like I did.
Today when I realized that my first thought in the morning, in that unclear state of mind somewhere where you know you are sleeping but are also a little bit conscious, I captured it to be in… German. I though, here it is, that moment.
I lived years and years with an assumption that I will never ever learn German in my life as it was too difficult for me. Knowing 4 languages really well at the time I felt like my ambitions for languages were already satisfied. So I was saying with dignity and out loud I will never learn German.
We have a saying in our culture, never say never. As if when you say that you provoke god to prove you otherwise. So eventually he made me move to Germany!
I arrived 5,5 years back with two German words in my mouth. Scheiße and Schweine, of course.
I took German classes with breaks during this period of time and these are my highlights.
1st half a year I had to look to the dictionary to translate a word envelope before I went to the local post office. And guess what, of course the postman did not understand my Umschlag and I had to speak with my fingers.
1st year our kind German neighbors invited us for the afternoon coffee with cakes and pastry and I made sure I stuffed my mouth and nodded my head energetically as basically I could not even catch what they were talking about. I have to admit they were the people I must be thankful to for my spoken German. Later I reflected that for them it was our best visit of all times.
2nd year I progressed with my German and was extreamely happy when I could say something and be understood. Social interactions still were full of tension for me.
Somewhere in the beginning of my 3rd year I discovered the power of the question “what does this word _________ mean in German?” (insert the word somebody just said and you have no clue about it). That was a break through in my language. Simultaneously my both kids started going to school and kindergarten and suddenly they both started talking German between themselves!
I also had a job assignment when I had to read German laws. I could only take like 1 hour of day and wear a cold wet towel on my head to keep it from exploding. Eventually as I had experience with laws in other languages I coped with this task really well.
After 3,5 years my kid was talking in German in his sleep! Both kids were still correcting my German grammer and pronunciation. I used to read my letters in German to my older kid to see if he spots any mistake. He always had!
In the beginning of the 4th year I was already relaxed about social interactions as I also discovered the power of the question “how is this thing called in German?” and describing what I mean. Now other people had to sweat instead of me. Each time I ask that Germans accept the challenge and are happily suggest some words. And I noticed I learn the fastest in social interactions. Especially if they have some weird moments.
After 4 years one time I found myself firs time in my life shouting out loud on a woman in the middle of the street… in German! I wondered a moment later how fluent I was! Thats what happens to a mom when somebody nearly hits her baby on a bike with a car due to careless driving.
After that it was not that hard to stand up and ask a question in German in a hall full of German people. Well, I had to do some push out of my comfort zone for sure but I am proud I did that. And of course they did get me! I noticed, as soon as I stopped worrying if they are going to get me, they always got me.
Then I have started correcting my kids spelling!
After exactly 5 years I did a professional translation of a business plan from German language. I was very happy with the end result. Work related conversations now happen often and has become a normal part of my life.
Today I woke up with my first thought in my head, and it was in German.
Whats next? I think like Madonna hired a private teacher to speak with more of a British accent when she married Guy Ritchie, now I can work more on my accent. Like a virgin!
German is my 6th language.