As I left the apartment alone this afternoon to grab some groceries, I had this really weird feeling I was forgetting something important… Oh, duh — my German-speaking boyfriend. It’s not that I don’t like to do things on my own — I do really like getting stuff done on my own, actually — it’s just that facing the German-speaking world alone in a city I haven’t quite memorized makes me feel like a football player at a dance audition or something. It’s all new, I’m anxious, and I just try to look like I know what I’m doing.
The problem is, no matter how hard I try to blend in to my surroundings, German people just know. Germans can spot an American in a crowd almost as easily as they could spot a whale swimming with a group of goldfish. They can detect my red, white, and blue heritage before a word even pops out of my mouth. I mean, I’m not even wearing Nike’s, T-shirts, or ball caps, I swear — it’s just a sixth sense, I’m totally convinced.
Given, Germans are a friendly and kind group of people. The social atmosphere here is very warm. I just hate embarrassing myself when I stumble over language. And Germans, obviously, speak German… and quickly.
A typical German conversation for me goes as follows:
Me: (shopping, checking out at the cash register, walking, or whatever.)
Herr or Frau X: (speaks German very quickly, seemingly asking a question because the inflection goes up at the end.)
Me: Uh… (tries to string some of the words together) (often comes up with nothing) Entshuldigung, aber ich verstehe nicht. Ich spreche English… (smiles apologetically.)
Herr or Frau X: (smiles politely) Ah, alles klar, alles klar. (but continues to speak German to me, very quickly) (sometimes asks an additional question.)
Me: Um… Ja. (not sure what I just agreed to) (sometimes I mix it up with Nein)
Herr or Frau X: (confused)
Me: (awkwardly smiles again and walks away)
As I was walking to the entrance of the Karstadt, I noticed a young German guy with dreadlocks playing guitar on the bench out front, singing ‘When You Say Nothing At All’ by Alison Kraus with perfect English pronunciation. A woman behind me clearly didn’t know the English lyrics, but she still apparently knew the song, sing she began humming along. It struck me then that despite language barriers, music can unite people in a way that few things can, because music doesn’t necessarily need words to reach people. (Oh, my God — I’m so cheesy sometimes it scares me.)
And, actually, I did pretty well with my language skills today during my shopping experience, which makes me ***very happy.*** Hopefully, my Germlish will only continue to get better… Fingers crossed.
The past couple days have been days off, which is awesome. I’ve gotten a little sick, but praise the Lord for German medicine, because it’s obviously good stuff. Last night, Jacco and I saw Maleficent (in English! Phew!), and we loved it! Angelina Jolie may be my new spirit animal…
The World Cup starts today. I’ve tried out saying ‘football’ instead of ‘soccer,’ but I’m not fully committed to this switch. Love you too, Germany, but I’m gonna have to go with USA on this one! Let’s goooooo!