My weapons for the last year. I forgot to include my Life Saver -- my Oxford English-German Dictionary.
Today, everything has changed.
I am done.
I am done with Germany's Integration Course.
This six-month course has taken over a year of my life.
I started at the beginning of October 2008 and finished today.
At the end of December 2008, my first language school took a holiday break and I went to London for a bit. I returned to Hamburg in February. I tried to get in to a class at the same class and that was not possible until March 2. The Friday night before Asmus got a contract to work at a bank in Kiel, Germany. I nagged about 10 language schools in Kiel in search for a place in the three module of the course. There was just about no room at the inn. InLingua had a spot in its third module that began in mid-June 2009.
It was tough going for a long time. I bought a Berlitz book to help me with my German while I was living in London. I didn't use it much but then it saved my life this summer. My school in Hamburg, Colon, was full of new immigrants. We all suffered through German pronunciation and grammar together. We complained and whined as one. And when we were done, we had a beer. I complained about them but I missed them this summer.
My class in Kiel was full of German residents. They spoke the language at the speed of sound. In response, the teachers did the same. I came home angry and frustrated. I sat there from 8 am until 12:15 and had no idea what was going on. A few times that I tried to speak, a few people in class laughed at me. The teacher said nothing. Once I was too excited construct a true sentence in German and simply said, "Kein respekt! Kein respekt!" There was silence for a few seconds but no apology. After that, the laughter stopped.
I hoped my learning experience would look like this. It didn't.
Soon, I took a peek at my Berlitz book to see if it could help me. I was happy to notice that it was the same as the book we were using. The big difference was that the directions and instructions were in English. I started to work before hand. I gathered a vocabulary list and created flash cards. My German got much better. By August, I had the respect of the class. Some turned to me when they were not certain about something. Olga, the silent Russian emigrant who sat next to me, would simply copy my work. For a while, I was forced to sit across the room from her and she would come over to steal answers from me. I had several philosophical discussions about this with Asmus. I think Olga should learn on her own and I did not want to contribute to her cheating herself. Asmus didn't think there was no harm to me, so I didn't need to care. I was too cowardly to shoo her away.
I did become racist. I now hate Turkish people. (OK, not really.) About half of the class hailed from Turkey. They were the ones laughing at me. I was impressed by their unity and disgusted by it, too. They would only talk to each other. If the teacher would ask a Turkish classmate a question and he did not know the question, a few of his countrymen would give him the answer in Turkish. There was this crazy clique. And they were annoying. When we got our practice tests back, they asked everyone in the classroom their scores. Didn't tell theirs but asked for others. I almost peed on myself when Selma told the teacher that she got an answer wrong that Ebru got correct. The result: Ebru lost a point.
Now, I have nothing to complain about; no chapters to read; no place to go at the crack of dawn. (Because of Hamburg' s latitude, the sun rises about 7:15 now.)
I wanted to feel sad about the end of my time in class. I feel nothing. I will miss Thomas, the one teacher who slowed his speech down and explained things when I was obviously confused. I will miss the interesting and capable office manager Anja. Because of the nature of our relationships, Anja and I and Thomas and I could not have been friends. I hoped to gather some friends in the integration course. But now I just have happiness that the course is over.
Here is a view of a room at the school, where I learned about German language and culture.