Guten Tag from Munich! Greg and I got Baby C a little passport and brought her with us to Germany for a week. So far, so good... although traveling with a six month old has been interesting. No time to write all about it now, though. We spent nine months here two years ago, so I'm re-running part of an email I sent out then, with a quick update at its end. Enjoy!
Number of German classes skipped: 4.
Number of German words taught: 400.
Number of German words learned: 4.
German teachers may be the bravest people in the world. My intensive class contained around 9 students from all over Europe, if you include Turkey (which the student hailing from Turkey did, but those from traditional Europe disdainfully didn't), one from Japan, one from Korea, and one from Australia. Oh, and one from Morocco who insisted that he was "a photographer and a world citizen." Seeing as he spoke about 6 languages, I didn't giggle at this. Brian from Arizona was my only compatriot. He had moved to Munich to marry his German boyfriend and listed his occupation as "hausfrau" which our dear teacher, the sweet and somewhat conventional Frau Rosemary Schmit, finally understood was not a mistake after he showed up in black leather pants.
My apologies to all of you, but Brian and I confirmed every horrible stereotype about Americans' linguistic inabilities. We were, clearly and unavoidably, the class dunces. (It makes one very crabby to be the class dunce. I skipped a few classes, didn't do all my homework, and considered smoking in the girls' room, but figured that cry for help would go unnoticed here).
One day we had to say where we'd gone to school, and I laboriously said something to the tune of "I go to University, then I go to law school for 3 years" -- we hadn't learned the past tense yet -- and the class looked at me with naked incredulity on their faces. "That girl couldn't possibly be a lawyer! Poor thing doesn't even know what she's saying!"
The rest of the class zipped along, the German tripping merrily out of their mouths. Frau Schmit would occasionally try to include me in the conversation by slowly enunciating "Elizabeth, Wie viel Uhr ist es [What time is it]?" with a compassionate look on her face. I would mangle the numbers which told her that it was four past half before eleven (and this is how they express 10:34 a.m. here), and the class discussion would resume. They may have been discussing Nietzsche. I will never know.
Frau Schmit did face massive resistence the day she attempted to introduce divisible irregular verbs. As I understand it, the divisible verb consists of a verb and a prefix, but one puts the prefix at the end of the sentence for purposes that are not entirely clear. On that dark day, I was seated between Fauod the world citizen and Maximiliano from Verona. I didn't pick up the whole conjugation thing, but did learn a few good Italian and Arabic swear words. Even the teacher's pet from Turkey looked a little surly. Most of the class shared its angst over Glühwein later - usually, it was just the English-speakers who were driven to drink after class.
UPDATE: I just tried to order two bottles of a drink called Apfel Schorle (apple juice mixed with sparkling water - very popular). The woman came back with two pieces of Apfel Streusel. Not so thirst quenching, but I'm encouraged: at least it's the right fruit.