Geek Mädel: Not so lost in translation
Difficulty learning German? It's a priceless moment when after months of poring over German language books and lessons, you realise you can finally 'sprechen Deutsch'.
Today I had a not-date with one of the girls I met on a lesbian dating site and have been emailing for the past two weeks. I was kinda nervous because not only would I be meeting someone totally new, but I would be doing it all in German. These past two weeks, my friend and fellow Hamburg Player B has kindly given up her Monday evenings to help me practice and improve my spoken German. Something I will be eternally grateful to her for. Therefore, I knew that I could make myself understood, but would I be able to actually meet someone brand new and have a meaningful conversation with them all in German? That was the sixty four thousand dollar question and something that I could only really answer by getting up the courage and just giving it a try.
The short answer is, yes I can. I was so fortunate that M is such a friendly and open person and that she had spent her school years learning English and had worked in the US as an au pair for a year, so that when I forgot or simply did not know the German word, she could provide it. Still, we spoke pretty much exclusively in German except for an English phrase or word here and there.
My German was not pretty and I made so many grammatical errors, but I could make myself understood and get across what I wanted to say. Not only that, but M speaks almost accent-less German and she also slowed down her speech for me, so that I understood almost 95 percent of what she said. This was a pure joy as my ability to understand spoken German has been something I have struggled with since I started learning the language.
Also, our not-date was an absolute blast. We ate unbelievably good Dim Sim (and lots of it), laughed lots and talked non-stop. We have already planned our next outing – to go and see The Hobbit in German. I went to see the Hobbit in English last night (just a fantastic movie, everyone must go see it!) and was thinking that it might be good for a laugh to go and see it in German to see how much I could understand of it. Therefore when M tentatively suggested it, I was totally on board (much to her surprise I think). The only downside is that M has declared that only sweet popcorn shall be eaten during the film. But I guess since I'm going to see a film in German, I must also eat German-style popcorn.
I am on an absolute high at the moment. I can speak German! This is something I honestly thought I would never be able to do. Long-time readers of this blog know how much I have struggled with learning German. For the majority of this year, I felt I had put so much effort and time into learning German but was getting absolutely nowhere. Everything was a struggle and nothing came easily. Now I know all that effort and frustration has paid off. I still have a long way to go with my German. My pronunciation is dreadful and my grammar doesn't bear thinking about. But now I know that I can do this and it is not beyond my reach or ability. It might take me 10 times longer than everybody else, but I can do this.
Meg McFarlane is an IT geek whose company gave just 30 days warning before transferring her from Sydney, Australia, to Hamburg, Germany. Three years on, saying yes to that transfer was the best decision ever made, even though she was in no way prepared. Her blog Geek Mädel is a chronicle of her attempts to integrate into life in Germany and get her head around German grammar. As a social media addict, she can also be found on Twitter and Tumblr.
Photo credit: Tintazul.
Comment here on the article, or if you have a suggestion to improve this article, please click here.