Eight weeks into my time in Germany, and I’m starting to feel ever more settled with each passing day. Which is jolly nice.
One of the best things is that I’m making German friends (slash latching on to those of my housemates), which, as any year abroader will tell you, isn’t actually as easy as you might think. As a foreign student abroad, you so often find yourself clinging together with other foreign students – when arriving in a new place by yourself, it’s only natural to take any friends you can get. And friends are friends at the end of the day, oder?
I feel really lucky as I’ve made a nice group of international friends who come from all over the shop – the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Poland, Hungary, and of course, England. Unsurprisingly, it’s far too easy to spend all your time with other Brits. We appear to have a way of finding each other.
But I don’t think you need to feel bad for spending time with your British friends on your year abroad – you’d go crazy if you didn’t speak your native tongue once in a while. However, how much of your foreign language improves is directly correlated with how much of it you speak (duhh), and when you’ve got the opportunity to do that basically 24/7, you’d be a fool not to, right? I mean, that’s what the year abroad is really for, isn’t it?
|My housemate makes amazing tarts like this|
This is why I think it’s absolutely crucial to live with native speakers on your year abroad. I’m SO lucky to be living with two absolutely lovely German girls who study here in Bayreuth, and they’ve been total babes inviting me along to parties, café meet-ups and even ice skating trips with their friends. This evening I'm tagging along to a fitness class called 'ski gymnastics.' I have no idea what that is either, but we're going for it.
|ice skating funsies|
It’s so interesting to hang out with German people of my age. Lecturers and textbooks back at uni are all well and good, but they’re obviously a little behind the times. There’s nothing like learning German lingo from actual legit young German people.
And at the same time, I’m enjoying teaching my new German friends about life in the UK. For example, what a food baby is (naturally, they loved this new piece of vocab) and the joy of onesies (there was definitely some confusion upon first seeing me in mine, but my friends have now been convinced by the awesomeness of the onesie and are ordering their own ones).
I’ve introduced them to gold blend tea, Victoria Sponge, Christmas crackers and Dairy Milk chocolate, and explained the difference between cupcakes and muffins. Definitely getting into my role as ambassador for the UK. A mention in the next Honour’s List must surely be a given.
A lot of the time, German people do want to practice their English with me, so you have to be quite strict and say ‘Auf Deutsch, bitte’, but I occasionally do say we can speak in English for a bit – it’s funny how the power in the conversation suddenly shifts and I feel like I have the upper hand!
|Sending letters back home, old school style|
Although I don’t understand everything I hear when in a group of German people, I still enjoy it. In fact, I think it’s quite fun to be ‘the foreigner.’ Sure, it can be hard to be the new one in an established group of friends even when you all share the same mother tongue, but everyone’s been so lovely and welcoming that I’ve barely noticed.
My German has definitely improved too. How much exactly, I couldn’t say, but my confidence has come on leaps and bounds. I know I still make bajillions of grammatical mistakes (German grammar, what even are you?), but if I was to stop and think about all the grammatical rules before I spoke, I’d never say a word! I’m going for fluency rather than accuracy. I tell ya what, German people telling me my German is good is possibly one of the best compliments in the world right now.
People say you're fluent when you dream and think in the language. I haven't dreamt in German yet, nor do I think auf Deutsch. I do, however, think in Denglisch (a strange German/English hybrid.) Half the time, I want to reden with my Freunden and fam zu Hause wie I think, but then I remember they don't actually sprechen Deutsch, und won't verstehe a word I say in my mangled Denglisch. I genuinely have to stop myself chucking in German words midway through an English sentence. It's quite witzig though, oder?
So it would seem I'm slowly on my way to becoming German. I'm transitioning, slowly but surely. Not just language-wise, either. Get this: I have taken to eating RYE bread with cream cheese. RYE BREAD! I cycle everywhere. And the most
schocking shocking thing of all? (Oh my word, I just spelled 'shocking' as if it was a German word!) I tried some of my housemate's weird fruity tea the other night, AND I LIKED IT! I know.
|Rationing my tea bags from home|
I used to say all that weird fruity, herby 'tea' isn't really tea at all, and I stand by that, but it was, well, nice. Panic not, it's not going to take the place of my milky gold blend builders' brew any time soon (or ever), but still. I'm slightly worried I'm going to have totally forgotten what 'orange squash' even is when I get home in six weeks.
SIX WEEKS! God, I'm going to be totally Germanified by then. But that ain't a bad thing. Two weeks of intense mince pie eating will give me a good dose of my British roots before heading back to D-land for two more months of German winter. My, this year is going to fly by!