Your Friday German Music Break

I apologise for the radio silence, but I’m currently insanely busy being an unpaid sound designer/technician (yes, this is what I do in my spare time). However, I wanted to share with you all a song to celebrate it being a Friday, a song that I have on high rotation on my iPod which has the added bonus of being in German. I definitely recommend wearing headphone for this, if only to hear the great bass in this song. Enjoy!

Have a great weekend!

 

The Results of the B2 German Exam Are In…

…. and I passed!! I’m so excited. The exam was so difficult that I was sure that I didn’t have a hope in hell of passing.

Ok, so for the breakdown, here’s what I received.

Reading: 64% – as the most difficult section of the exam, I’m surprised I did that well

Listening: 74% –  given that the first part of this section was ridiculously hard, I have to assume I aced the second part.

Writing:  72% – given my writing skills, this is amazing.

Speaking: 90% – What?? Speaking is my worst skill and what I get criticized the most about by my teachers. How did I get 90%??

Total Score: 75%

Happy doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel at the moment.

Crunching The Numbers: Final Edition Plus The Dreaded B2 Exam

Goethe-Institut logo

Photo credit: Wikipedia

This month was my final month of my Intensive German course. Since January I have been doing 5 hours of German class every day and I’ve now reached a point where I am comfortable in German. My German is nowhere near fluent and I still make lots of mistakes, but I can function pretty well in German in my daily life.

This month’s class was the worst experience I have had to date. We were assigned a teacher who normally teaches at the Goethe Institute in Amsterdam. To be blunt, she was dreadful and we ended up playing more theatre games than actually learning German. Things reached a breaking point a week before our exam. The teacher was removed and my awesome German teacher from January and March took over the class to get us ready for the exam. The final week was great but gruelling and we finished up the week fully prepared to sit our exam. Because of the problems with the teachers, I did received a final grade, but only based on my final week of work. However, I feel it was an accurate assessment, especially since it was made by a teacher that I have had for two previous months.

The grades were:

Reading: 2

Listening: 2

Structure: 3

Speaking: 3

Writing: 3

Yes, they are identical to last month’s grades. The skills I am the weakest in have not changed.

The night before my B2 exam I was feeling nervous but quietly confident. We had done a practice exam in class two days previous and the entire class passed. I felt sure I could handle the real thing. What none of us counted on was that the real thing would be way more difficult than anything we encountered in class, especially in reading comprehension, which normally is my strongest skill. The only reassuring thing is that the entire 3 classrooms of people sitting the exam all walked out feeling rather shell-shocked. No one was expecting anything as difficult as what we encountered. However, the pass mark still sits at 60%. I am not sure that I was able to achieve that. I am not going to beat myself up about that though. The only thing on the line here is my pride. I was sitting this exam mainly for myself and partly also because B2 would look better on my resume than B1. If I failed, I can always re-sit the exam.

I now have two months off from classes. Whether I go back in July will depend on whether or not I have found a job by then. The hardest part will be to keep working on my German during May and June. I have plans, but I also know that I am a chronic procrastinator. The good thing is that my German has now reached a stage where I really enjoy watching TV and movies in German (strange, but true), so at least I will keep that side of it up.

 

Crunching The Numbers: Month 3 of German Class

Goethe-Institut logo

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Just like I did in January and February, I’m going to share with you how I did this month in my intensive German course at the Goethe Institut. This month I had the amazing teacher I had back in January and once again I learnt so much, especially about how much I don’t know and can not do in German. Still, tiny steps – and I feel like I did make some progress. As much as we joke around and laugh with our teacher she is strict and doesn’t let a single mistake get past her. Those of us in her January class received the most criticism as she knows and believes that we are capable of pushing ourselves and doing better. To be honest, I thrive under these conditions. I respond well to someone pushing me, although it does need to be balanced out with fun and lots of laughter which in this class it was.

So, how did I do this month?

Reading: 2

Listening: 2

Structure: 3

Writing: 3

Speaking: 3

On the surface, these grades look like the worst I’ve done so far, but given that our teacher warned us that she grades hard, I am surprised I did so well. Also her comments were really encouraging. I’m no longer accidentally slipping into English, although my native language is heavily influencing how I pronounce some words. Also, I really struggle with relative sentences where the verb needs to go on the end, because let’s face it, keeping the verb in your head whilst you simultaneously try to remember the words you want to say and then trying to remember how they all go together is like performing mental gymnastics every time you open your mouth. My brain is not as young as it once was. I believe I will get there, but the road will not easy.

Next month is my final month at the Goethe Institut (for now) and I will sit my B2 exam at the end of it. This month we did quite a lot of exam preparation which was great in showing me where my weaknesses are. I now need to work on those areas to get them up to exam standards. Here’s hoping that I can do so.

When Quitting Your Job Is A Crime

Crime Time

Photo credit: Wikipedia

I’ve now been unemployed for three months and honestly I could not be happier except that my bank balance is looking scarily low. Therefore, I applied this week for unemployment benefits and got a very unpleasant introduction to Die Agentur für Arbeit (The Agency for Work aka The Employment Agency). The people there were nice enough but it truly is German bureaucracy at its mind-numbing ‘best’. It turns out that I should have applied for unemployment benefits on the very first day that I was unemployed or up to 3 months beforehand, despite the fact I don’t qualify for unemployment benefits until 3 months after I quit my job. Therefore, I need to supply a written statement about why I applied so late. Then, there comes the matter of quitting my job. It turns out that quitting your job in Germany and not having another job to go to straight away is almost like committing a crime. I not only have to provide a written statement on the reasons why I quit my job, but also explain what I did to prevent quitting, what I did to delay quitting and explain why I quit even though my company would have fired me anyway (which they wouldn’t have) plus give the names, dates and times of the people at my company I spoke to about all of it – and I need to do all this in German. Then there comes the usual massive number of forms that you need to fill out when dealing with any public service in Germany. I find all of this so ridiculous that I have been laughing at the absurdity of it for the past 4 days.

Fortunately, things were bad enough at my previous job that I don’t lack any explanations for my reasons for quitting. I’m just worried that they won’t believe all of this stuff was actually going on. The fact that three of my former colleagues (although not from the same office as me since I was the only one there besides my boss) have handed in their resignations since I quit shows that this shit is still ongoing and probably always will until they go out of business. Words can’t describe my relief about being out of that place, even if it does mean having to deal with a mountain of paperwork and no doubt a million and one appointments with the Arbetisamt. If I actually successfully navigate this process and receive my unemployment benefits I will write a How To Guide for other foreigners in the same situation as this whole process was a complete mystery to me (and still is).  For now wish me luck in surviving it all.

Crunching The Numbers: Month 2 of German Class

Goethe-Institut logo

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Month 2 of my intensive German course is over, so how did I go this month compared to the previous one?  Unfortunately this month I was less motivated than I was in January. I felt like I learnt nothing for the first 2.5 weeks and to be honest, the teachers were not as good as my wonderful teacher in January. They didn’t make us work and we were only assigned four writing assignments for the entire month. In January we had 4 writing assignments per week. Still, I feel like I made progress. I spoke only German the vast majority of time including on breaks and whilst on cultural outings and I’m beginning to feel comfortable in the language. My presentation this month was much better than my messed up presentation in January. Still, when I’m nervous I speak way too fast and I lapse into pronouncing words that German & English have in common like culture or generation in the English way. So, much to improve before I sit my exams in April.

So, how did I actually go, grade-wise?

Listening: 1-2

Reading: 1-2

Structure: 2-3

Speaking: 2-3

Writing: 2

So, basically the same grades as I got in January except my writing improved from a 3+ to a 2. I’m not sure this was an actual improvement in my writing or just comparing my writing to others in my class. Since my teacher asked one student if she used Google Translate to write one of her assignments, I’m going to go with the fact I got a 2 because my writing was better than some of my classmates’.

Classes start again tomorrow and my teacher from January told us that she’s trying to get assigned back to our class, so I’m pressing my thumbs that she’ll be our teacher for March. If she is I know I’m going to be made to work hard, which if I’m being honest, I’m looking forward to. I need to pressure from the teacher to make me work hard instead of just coasting along.

Perhaps I Need A New Neurologist

Ritalin

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I have had a grumble about my neurologist Herr Dr F on here before, like when he rang me up to ask me to come and fix his computer or the time where he asked me what disorder he was treating me for, even though he had been my doctor for 6 months. But what happened at my appointment on Thursday morning left me really doubting his ability to treat his patients properly.

A little background here. In Germany (and in probably most Western countries), all of your medical information is kept electronically. A drug can not be prescribed to you unless it has been entered into the computer system first. In the 12 months that Herr Dr F has been dispensing my medication, the exact same medication I might add, every single instance of it is stored on his computer system. Therefore, when Herr Dr F asked me during my latest appointment what medication I was taking and what dosage I was on, I was a little concerned. I was even more concerned to see him typing it into his computer. The same computer that already contains all of this information. Now, I made a slight error when telling him the details of my medication. I told him I was taking the 50mg tablets. This was accepted with a nod and entered into the computer. However, when I got home and looked at the packet sitting on my bathroom shelf I’m actually taking the 25mg tablets. I just doubled my dosage of a prescribed medication and my doctor didn’t even notice this.

Now before you all freak out, this medication was not actually prescribed to me during this visit as I already have a decent supply of this and also, I had previously been on the 50mg tablets (about 6 years ago), so I know that nothing untoward will happen if I happened to have been given it. Still, I have to admit, that I am more than a little concerned about this. If he is asking me what meds he is prescribing me, then he is asking his other patients as well. Having spent some time in his waiting room, quite a lot of his patients are elderly and aren’t doing so good with the whole memory thing. What are they telling him and what on earth is he prescribing them? Some of their medications could cause serious problems if the dosage is changed. I feel deeply uneasy about having him as my doctor. Luckily my disorder is under really good control with my medication so basically all I’m needing him for is a signature on my prescription. Still, if ever I have a major relapse, I don’t really trust him to treat me. I actually had a small relapse over the Christmas period but he refused to believe it was possible I did because I didn’t also have a headache at the time.

To be honest I’m finding all my doctors here, except my gynaecologist, to be sub-standard. I had to tell my gastroenterologist what medication to prescribe me because he wasn’t sure and my General Practice doctor keeps wanting to refer me to a psychiatrist because I happen to have two chronic health issues and he can barely be bothered to treat me for any other issues that might crop up. It’s a damn good thing I have a degree in medical science and can do my own research into my health issues as I feel I am getting no help from the actual medical professionals. Is anybody else having the same problem with their doctors in Germany or have I just had bad luck to keep finding the crap ones?