What is Foreign Exchange to Me?

"A year of of my life. My life in a year."

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Don't You Just Love Language Barriers?

Have you ever seen the movie “13 Going on 30?” It is about a young girl who wants to be grown up but once she gets her wish, she realizes being a kid is a lot better. Well if a movie were to be made about me it could be appropriately titled “17 Going on 3.” I can pick out various words in conversations and if I’m lucky I get the gist of what is going on, but aside from that I’m usually clueless. I don’t particularly enjoy being three. It’s as if I got a taste of the real world for 5 years or so, then had it ripped out from underneath me.

For example, I went to my first Rotary meeting last Tuesday (which was not nearly as bad or scary as everyone made it out to be) and understood close to nothing. When speaking about me to the group, Hameln’s club president said I was “hardly welcome” (he doesn’t speak English, but was trying to make me feel welcome) so that was a definite highlight.

It’s also fun to be in a class where you don’t speak the language AND the teacher’s handwriting is illegible. I take notes in most of my classes (despite not having the slightest idea what they are talking about) so that I’m not sitting there doing absolutely nothing for one and a half hours; however, when a teacher has illegible handwriting I try to make out the letters and later ask one of my sisters what the words mean. Usually they end up staring at the page for a couple of seconds, then proceed to tell me that the letters do not make actual words.

Finally, I know nobody in California will believe me, but when spoken fluently by a native speaker, German is a surprisingly beautiful language, even when spoken by angry old men. That being said, after a full day of school I get the type of headache that I usually get when I don’t understand a math problem because I can’t comprehend what’s going on.


  1. hahaha I love the part about trying to read the handwriting. That happens to me all the time, I then just sit on google translate trying all possible letters until i get an english word or one of my classmates sees what Im doing and tells me what it is :)

  2. You will get there and the more translation and vocabulary work you do the sooner. I'm sure that in 2 months you'll feel like you're 5 years old and from there it will explode until you can speak german good enough to master all everyday situations without a problem. Growing up again. :-)

  3. My heart goes out to you Angie! Just keep in mind that all this torture will leve you speaking fluently in German! I remember feeling exactly the same way in Croatia! I love you, Aunt Kathleen xoxoxo

  4. Oye, I know those headaches. Keep the faith, it'll get better.


Days in Germany