Challenging Times, But Not All Bad

Despite my lack of posting, I am still alive. Still chugging along at this crazy thing called life. You might think that I’ve been outside enjoying summer but in Hamburg, summer is it being 36C one day and 16C and raining the next so, no, I’m definitely not outside in either one of those temperatures. Instead I’m about to start my third week of yet another intensive German course, this time C1 (advanced). I would like to say that I’m really enjoying it, but I’m not. Remember this post is about challenging stuff. I’m finding the class really hard going, which if I was looking on the bright side, I would say that this is a good thing as it means I’m learning lots of new stuff. However, I feel like a total idiot the vast majority of the time. Also, unlike my previous German classes, I’m really not gelling with any of my fellow German learners this time around. The class is decidedly un-fun.

The reason I’m taking this class is because of my next big challenge. I have a new job which I will be starting at the beginning of August (in 2 weeks, yikes!). This new job will be completely in German. Cue me freaking out, big time. It’s also a job that I’ve never done before, so not only will I be learning all new things, I’ll be doing it in a foreign language. I’m finding it somewhat mind-blowing that I will be doing a job in a language that I didn’t even speak 4 years ago and that fact is just adding to my panic. I know logically that they would not have hired me if my German was that bad and that working in German all day is going to really propel me to fluency, but the first couple of months are going to be really tough. Also, I will be working in a massive agency that has 4 floors’ worth of staff, which is going to be a huge change from working in an office with just one other person. In fact, my team alone has 12 people on it. This will not be an office where I can blast my music when I’m having a bad day. I will need to invest in some decent headphones, cause let’s face it, there will be bad days, probably quite a few of them.

I know these challenges will lead to good things, which is why I’m refusing to categorise them as bad, however, I can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed right now. I’m not always that great with change, even change that I know will be good for me in the long run. For those of you who have made the transition from working in English to working in German, please tell me that it wasn’t that bad or at the very least it resulted in some great stories. I need some positive vibes over here.



10 thoughts on “Challenging Times, But Not All Bad

  1. I’m sorry to hear that you’re not gelling with this class. The teacher needs to facilitate that a bit better I think…
    Working in both languages/ German is quite funny sometimes! Germans have shown me a lot of acceptance, they like it if you immigrate here and really show that you’re trying to assimilate!
    I work 3/5 days in English, but I teach English to Germans and have to translate/ explain in German for my classes. The classes are just such lovely people (could be the easy going southerners!) and they have such fascinating questions. (like: what is the equivalent of a Streber in English and they LAUGHED at the idea of teacher’s pet, and even more at the idea of brown noser!)
    I recently took up horse riding again, which meant taking dressage lessons in German. The instructor shouted at me so often because I didn’t know what she wanted, but I stuck with it as my personal challenge because I love the animals. Little by little I got better, and I learned a lot of German words too! The kids at the riding school often come and ask me for help, even though my German is a bit off, and I think that’s a really good sign!
    Find the one thing that makes the suffering, das Leiden, worth it. Then you’ll move mountains. Maybe its staying her, or going on holiday, or I don’t know what. Find the thing that makes you happy in ways you were as a kid doing your favourite task. That’s my best advice.
    I’ll be taking a German course in September, to hopefully improve my writing so let’s see how it goes!
    By the way, I found a copy of Terry Pratchett’s “Snuff” in the German discount bin, so lets see if Satire translates! :-)

    • Thanks! :) That’s so awesome that you are doing dressage in German. I’m impressed.
      I read a Terry Pratchett novel in German, but found it didn’t really translate that well. However, that could have a lot to do with who was doing the translation. Let me know how you find Snuff auf Deutsch.

      • Ugh, Terry Prachett in German really didn’t work for me either. Harry Potter was ok, though a few of the translations irritated me. Tintenherz was a good one though (being written in German and not a translation and all).

      • The German translation of Pratchett actually is notoriously bad, and completely has to do with the translator. There are wikis and blogs dedicated to how bad a job was done there – idioms are missed completely, the imagery goes by the wayside, and quite often you get the feeling that the translator didn’t even understand what Sir Terry was saying.

        Then again, the newer books (since 2010-ish) have been translated by someone else, so maybe Snuff in German isn’t all that bad…

  2. Good luck with the job!! I hope that you slide right into it more smoothly than you expect. Too bad the class is so sucky though, hope you can manage to keep up your motivation in spite of it!

  3. All will work out just fine. :) 4 years of learning German, that’s a lot of practice, there’s no reason why you should lose confidence in your skills! Even if it won’t be perfect, the Germans usually appreciate it when you try to speak their language, I’m sure your colleagues will be kind, speak slowly (when necessary) and you’ll get along just fine. Who knows… maybe in a few months you’ll even start blogging in German. ;)

  4. Viel Glück, Meg!

    I think what worked the most for me when I started working in German in Germany 11 years ago was stubbornness. I politely informed those around me that I wanted to improve my German and their English was already more than good enough. Könnten wir das bitte auf Deutsch machen? was a frequent request while I was first meeting new colleagues, but after about a month, they all knew my intentions, and respected them. Fight the urge, on your part or theirs, to give in and give or receive an explanation in English. Look up vocabulary words on your own, by all means — but I found personal interaction in the host language to have the most sticking power for me. You’ve taken the plunge; now don’t mess up the immersion by hopping in and out of the pool!

    • Cliff, I can always rely on you to give me awesome advice. As much as I’m worrying about having to work exclusively in German, I’m looking forward to the challenge. I don’t think it’s going to be too much of struggle to get them to speak German to me. In the 3 job interviews I had before they offered me the job not a single person spoke English to me and that includes all of my new team. I guess I will find out tomorrow.

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