Five months ago today I flew into Germany. Five months ago today, I barely spoke a word of German. Needless to say, a lot has changed in the past five months. While my German is nowhere near perfect, I can speak with strangers on the street without missing a beat, and now I can even understand my friends. All that being said, I speak German with an accent that “sounds like I’m from everywhere in the world at once” and like a teenage boy. This makes sense seeing as most of my friends are teenage boys, I live with a teenage boy, and I am, and have always been, a tom-boy… but the only problem with it is I am, in fact, not a teenage boy.
*Speaking German with a friend in an English based class*
Teacher: “Angie, do I need to remind you of all people that English is the language of this classroom?”
Friday afternoon I received a package from one of my best friends back in California, Alison. Inside the package, there was a “Senior” shirt from my high school, the school newspaper (there is an article in it about my exchange year), a bottle cap elmo neckless, a dressed up badminton bird, glow in the dark beads, three letters, and more stickers than I will ever know what to do with. I also received a letter from my old boss on the same day. After seeing this, my host-mom said I get more mail than the rest of the family combined, and more than any of the other exchange students she has ever hosted. To be fair, I live on the other side of the world now, but that being said, I think I have received more mail in the past five months, than I have in the other 17 years of my life combined.
Friday evening before making dinner, I was emailing a friend from California when he excitedly asked, “What are you having for dinner tonight?! Schnitzel!?” Oddly enough Friday was the first night we did not have ‘traditional German food’ but rather made tacos for dinner despite them virtually not existing in Germany because my host-brother misses tacos since he spent his year of exchange in Mexico. After eating my brother said, “That was the worst taco I have ever had… but it was the best you can get in Germany!”
Saturday night I went to Johannes’ house along with my group of friends where we watched movies and played cards. To get to Johannes’ I have to take two busses, but of course the first bus was late, so I missed the second bus, and Leo, being the good friend he is, waited for me, so we walked across town in the pouring rain. Despite wearing all my water/snow proof winter clothing, I was still soaked from head to toe by the time we got there. I was so wet that if I were to take a shower, I would not have needed to get my hair wet before putting shampoo in it. (Of course I forgot my camera memory card or there would be evidence.) However, during the evening I dominated at cards so my mood was greatly improve.
*Standing on the bridge looking over the beautiful Weser River*
Stranger: "Hey, is everything okay?"
Me: "Yeah, just waiting for a friend."
Stranger: "Okay! You never know!"
Me: "What... ohh.. I probably look suicidal right now, don't I?"
Stranger: "...Just a little. Have a nice night!"
That random guy completely made my day. Not only was he being nice, but it is so incredibly rare for Germans to talk to people they don’t know on the street, that it was simply extra special. It was oddly convent that just that morning I learned the world for “suicidal” in German after watching a movie. Strange how quickly it came in handy.
Monday night, (after waiting for him on the bridge) Johannes and I went climbing in the sport hall. Not only do I enjoy climbing, but I have met so many interesting people there, such as an Italian man who lived in California for 12 years and a man who lost a couple of fingers after climbing in Peru. Especially now that I understand German, they always make for interesting discussions.
As my German gets better and better, I will NEVER underestimate the power of languages, or being able to understand someone ever again.