Long time readers of this blog will know all about my struggles with the German language since I arrived in Germany two and a half years ago. I started out disliking German quite vehemently, gradually made my peace with it and am now at a point where I quite like it. On Thursday, I experience a breakthrough with my German, where for the first time ever I was able to spend the day functioning quite well in German, including in two unique situations, without needing to rely on English at any point.
Thursday morning saw me at my GP’s explaining to him in German about three different health problems. I’m quite sure my doctor had consumed a large amount of caffeine prior to seeing me as he spoke incredibly quickly and it was a real struggle to keep up with him, but somehow I managed. I was referred to three different specialists during the course of my appointment, but only one of them I need to see with any great urgency. I was also told by my GP during the appointment that I did not require a referral to see the specialist. Once back at the office, I rang the specialist I need to see asap and was told by the receptionist that I do indeed need a referral. This required a phone call to my GP to organise a referral and then another call to the specialist to make an appointment after I secured the referral.
Thursday lunch time I went to go and organise ordering some blinds. I have lived in my apartment for just over 2 years and in that time I had done nothing about purchasing any blinds, due to a lethal combination of not having the language skills and procrastination. I was pretty sure that this would be the point at which my German would totally fail me since when does one practice talking about blinds in German class? However, I managed to get through it totally fine except for one point where I didn’t understand what the lady at the store was asking me, but she was able to simplify it so I could understand. What she had asked me was if I was a new customer, but in a way I had never heard before and completely differently to how that question is normally phrased.
I have to admit I was pretty proud of myself tackling these two situations completely in German. What helped a great deal is that for the whole day I listened to German radio and podcasts, so that my brain was completely in German mode. It made it so much easier to function in German than when my brain is in English mode and I need to switch to German.
I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, fluent in German yet. I still have quite a way to go before I reach that point, but now it doesn’t seem as impossible to achieve as it did before. I just need to keep doing a little bit of work every single day, improving my weakness, working on my vocab and most importantly, not giving up. I can do this.