Friday, October 4, 2013

Mary goes Germany

There I go again... buying almost too many groceries to carry, and going out in public with a super-weird topknot.

 I started studying German in highschool. When it came time to choose a language to study for the 3 semesters required by my college, Spanish seemed boring, French seemed too exotic, and Greek and Latin seemed way over my head. So German it was, and that was okay, because I liked it. It didn’t take me long to realize that studying German was exactly my cup of tea. I really felt like it was my thing, my thing I found enjoyable and my thing I was actually kind of good at (though the grammar was always a bit illusive). I chose German as my major, and studied in Germany two times, each month-long summer programs. After graduation I immediately married Cody, and was soon after pregnant with Seb. Life took over in beautiful ways, but during the last 4 years I couldn’t help but lament my increasing loss of the German language. But what was I to do? I could study it, but to what end? With a husband and two kids, I hardly had time to work on something that seemed so unrelated to real life. So I let German go, hoping that the opportunity would present itself to pursue it further in the future.

And here I am. I live in Germany. I LIVE IN GERMANY! Now you must understand that I am likely one of the least adventurous people you’ll ever know. Adventure sounds appealing to me in theory, but when it comes down to actually engaging in an adventure, It scares me to death. Living here has been a battle between my will to learn and engage in this culture that I now live in, and my will to be comfortable and at ease. But with peace in my heart that living this year in Germany is a gift and the one God has given me, I wake up every day and don’t worry about the adventure—or discomfort, which is often what adventures actually feel like—that awaits me.

We have now lived in Germany for just over a month. I am very often frustrated with my progress with the language, but I am also realizing that learning a language is a daily commitment, and if you stick with it, you’ll learn it. It’s not something that can be accomplished over night. I really don’t know how well I’ll be able to speak German when we leave here, and in that respect, our time in Germany is slipping away all too quickly, but I have noticed progress in a few areas that I can’t help but be excited about. 

The first is listening. I can understand the majority of what is said to me, or in conversations around me. Just tonight our Hausmeister asked me a question, and even though I still couldn’t tell you exactly what he said, I knew what he meant, and I didn’t need to hesitate in answering him. It was like the German went in, and the German came out, and I didn’t even know what happened. It’s so hard not being able to speak well with the people around us, but progress like this is thrilling.

Phrases. I am getting really good at picking up on phrases that moms say to their kids at the park, or that people say in greeting or in parting. I love this and I love practicing these little bits of speech. It makes me feel so much more comfortable here when I can wish some one a nice day, or blend in a bit more at the park. They’re these little moments of connection and goodwill between me and the people around me that make me love being here.

This whole experience of learning German is a roller coaster ride for both Cody and myself. We have good days and bad days, good moments and bad moments. Our confidence spikes, only to be dashed to smithereens seconds later. But progress is being made—Sebastian is learning the language, too—and day by day we are cracking the code.

P.S. I can't explain why I love German any more than I can explain this photo. Oh college, how were you so awesome?

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