Archives for November 2017

November 27, 2017 - 5 comments

Lists ‘n Things

Sometimes, complete sentences are just too hard to formulate. So here enters: lists + photos! That will have to do for today.

Thankful for:

  1. My apartment (especially when I have candles burning and a good book to curl up with)
  2. Chilly weather
  3. Mugs from home (always give me a warm fuzzy feeling that’s the opposite of homesickness)
  4. David (<3)
  5. My new church family of IBC Stuttgart and the friends I've made through it
  6. Peanut butter (I’m always thankful for you 🙂
  7. Austrian slippers
  8. Video-chatting (genius, genius invention)
  9. English-German dictionary (What would I do without you?)
  10. Hand cream (my hands get super dry when it’s cold out, okay??)
  11. My Kindle (see next post)

What I’ve been loving lately:

  1. Agatha Christie mystery novels (I think I might read about one a week?)
  2. Vanilla-Aronia herbal tea (no idea what Aronia is, but it’s delicious!)
  3. Mandarin oranges (all day, everyday)
  4. The Ordinary serums (seriously, whats better? Low price + great products)
  5. Baking and cooking (and, important: a whole family of people to eat what I make!)
  6. Peanut butter (on everything)
  7. Mid-afternoon walks in the fields (I kind of feel like a part of some club when I say “Grüß Gott” to the grandpas and grandmas I always seem to be out walking at the same time as)
  8. Regional birds (is it weird that I kind of want to get into birding?? They’re all so new and interesting here compare to Seattle!)
  9. Neighbourhood dogs (and cats) I now know by sight (gotta get my animal fix even if its from afar!)
  10. My current notebook and folder for school
  11. Having David within a short driving distance from me (that’s the best thing by far)

What I have NOT been loving lately:

  1. Conjugating German ADJECTIVES (yes, you heard right… it’s not just the verb that’s conjugated here)
  2. Driving with Km/h (add that to narrow streets and unfamiliar places = lots you have to be conscious about while driving)
  3. Washing dishes (seriously… who ever likes this? And a fateful product of baking all afternoon)
  4. Netflix (is there even anything good on it anymore, or have I watched it all?)
  5. When people on the train sit in the aisle seat when the window seat is empty and the next person has to basically crawl over them to sit down
  6. Workers who stand at the doors of the S-Bahn and block them before they’re even closed so you can’t hop on at the last minute
  7. Pillow cases that are too large for my pillow from the States because they’re made for giant square Euro pillows
  8. So many coffee shops… so little $$
  9. Having to respond to German speakers in English because I just don’t know how to respond in German
  10. Breaking my glass water bottle on the pavement 🙁 very sad incident
  11. A serious lack of Kombucha in this city (I haven’t been able to locate a place to buy it yet and my craving for it is only getting stronger!)

What I’m excited for:

  1. Jenny, Catie, and Madi visiting in just a couple of weeks!
  2. Christmas in Seattle
  3. Eventually beginning to job hunt (also terrified of this as well)
  4. Christmas markets (next weekend!!)
  5. Thanksgiving (belated, but we’re still having a real Thanksgiving dinner this Saturday with family and friends)

November 6, 2017 - 2 comments

Der, Die, Das… Was?? Or, My Journey to 22% Fluency

Two weeks ago, I finished the A1 level of German language learning at the Anglo-German Institute in Stuttgart. That’s about 8 weeks, or 38 days, or 161.5 hours of intensive German learning! With half of each weekday filled with German class, and the other half surrounded by German speakers, German signs, and... well, Germany, it's no surprise my German understanding has completely taken off!

According to this webpage, it’s supposed to take 750 hours to learn the German language (although it doesn’t actually specify how fluent you are after that time) as an English speaker. It’s a Category 2 language, so a bit more difficult than Spanish or Norwegian, but not as difficult as Russian or Arabic. So going off of that number, I am approximately 22% of the way to fluency! These past two months of language learning have seen me increase my comprehension and language skills so quickly and so vastly, that I can’t imagine how much I’ll be able to communicate with 750 hours! In just two months, I have gone from forgetting what the six German pronouns are (they’re: ich (I), du (you casual), er/sie/es (he/she/it), wir (we), ihr (you all), sie/Sie (they/you formal), to being able to have basic exchanges with store employees, help people asking for directions in the train station, and converse with very little difficulty with classmates who don’t speak English! That being said though, German is still a HARD language. True to German fashion, there are lots of rules (which you pretty much just have to memorize as best you can), a couple new letters that you have to remember how to pronounce (ü, ä, ö - see here), and then once those are mastered, you still have to be able to decipher the various regional dialects which don’t always follow the rules and pronunciations of high (or proper) German!

Unlike English, which has one form of a noun article, German has EIGHT. Yes, that’s right, eight different ways to say “the”. And, to make it even more complicated, depending on the type of sentence, the article of any given noun will change.

To start, there are four basic forms of noun article to begin with:

  • Masculine nouns are “der” (der Mann - the man)
  • Neuter nouns are “das” (das Baby - the baby)
  • Feminine nouns are “die” (die Frau - the woman)
  • Plural nouns are “die” (die Menschen - the people)

But, it’s not that simple. For example, if I want to say, “The bed is next to the wall.” I first have to know which article is the correct one for “bed”. Bed is a neuter word, so “das” is the correct article in the basic nominative form - you would say “das Bett”. “Wall”, however, is a feminine word, so it would be “die Wand”. So, you would think that you could say, “Das Bett ist neben die Wand”, but no… That sentence is in Dative form, which means that “die” changes to “der” because of the placement of that specific noun in the structure of the sentence. That’s right, the feminine noun now takes the article form thats usually associated with a masculine noun, and if it was masculine or neuter noun in that place it would take on a whole new article - dem!

I’ll now stop with the explaining of this, because I’m even confusing myself with trying to write this and honestly don’t want to write anything that’s actually not correct! I’m still working on just remembering what all of the different articles are, let alone, which form goes with which type of sentence (and how to tell the different sentence structures apart)! Here’s a little chart that lays it out a bit easier for you:

I’ve also been learning a whole bunch of vocabulary in my classes and in my day-to-day life. I’m sure this is also true in English, but sometimes it’s just really confusing when there are a lot of words that sound similar or have the same prefix, but don’t really have anything to do with each other.

For example, when I was first learning some vocabulary, all these words kept getting all jumbled in my head:

  • Die Kirsche (the cherry)
  • Die Kirche (the church)
  • Der Kuchen (the cake)
  • Die Küche (the kitchen)

You technically could say “Ich habe den Kuchen mit Kirschen für meine Kirche in meiner Küche gebacken” or in English, “I baked the cake with cherries for my church, in my kitchen”. Now that’s a German tongue-twister for you!

Last but certainly not least, the German language is hilariously famous for its extremely long words! In English, most of the time compound words are rather short - something like “dishwasher” or “flowerpot”, but in German, sometimes you get a couple already long words, or several normal length words strung together into one long run-on word. For example, if you wanted to say “independence declarations” in German, you would say “Unabhängigkeitserklärungen” or, broken down, die Unabhängigkeit (independence) and die Erklärungen (declarations). Another great one is “insurance companies providing legal protection”, which, in German, is “Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften”! It’s pretty funny in class when someone is reading aloud and comes upon one of the big compound words (luckily ours are usually much simpler than those examples) because without fail, the reader will pause for several seconds, then giggle to themselves, then proceed to attempt, and botch, the massive word’s pronunciation.

Throughout this whole language learning process thus far, I am so thankful that I am in a country of people who are a) accepting of foreigners and internationals and the steps it takes to integrate and learn how to live in Germany, b) willing to repeat themselves and speak slow when you ask them too because you didn’t understand them the first time, and c) are very forgiving when it comes to language mistakes because they know you are learning! Germany, you’re great and even though your language is hard, I’m glad I’m here and learning it.  

PS, I was super excited the day I walked past this sign and realized that I had just learned how to read this type of sentence in class a few minutes before! It's the little things that really make you feel the progress you're making!