Back To School

So as advertised, I started my intensive German course last week and already my brain is absolutely exhausted. The course itself is not overwhelming nor too challenging, but it’s just the fact that I’m in class for 4.5 hours every day. I’m just not used to doing full-time study nor full-time study of a subject that ties my brain into knots. One day I may come to grips with German grammar but it feels like that day is a long way off. Fortunately, the folks in my class are making class enjoyable and I love that once again I’m getting to know people from such a wide spectrum of nationalities – French, Swiss, Italian, Polish, Danish, Russian and Chinese.

Also as well as German classes, the Goethe Institut run what they call cultural activities and I have been to two of them this week. The great part about the cultural activities is not only that I’m seeing new places and new things, but they are all conducted in German which is a great way to get in some German study without it feeling like study.

On Friday I went to the Haus der Photographie to see an exhibition on the Leica camera. At this exhibition they had the original photo that launched a million Che Guevara t-shirts worldwide.

Plus the iconic VJ Day kiss photo

On Saturday we headed to the next state over, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, to the city Schwerin to see its palace.

Unfortunately, we picked the worst day possible to go sightseeing when Hurricane Felix was lashing North Germany. I don’t recommend walking around outside in hurricane strength winds and torrential rain. Still the palace was fascinating and now I know it’s there and it’s only a 90 min train ride away, I plan to go back when the weather is much nicer and take my camera gear so I can get some much better and more picturesque photos.

So, how am I going with the strict rules I set myself last week?  Well I accomplished all of them but going to Kung Fu. You can blame a bad headache and a mountain of homework on that failure.  Hopefully this week I’ll do much better.



A Tough Week

I’ve had a tough week emotionally this week.  My emotions have been all over the place, but mainly in the downwards directions.  I blame the constant fog, cold damp weather and lack of sunlight.  I’ve beaten myself up for having problems deciphering German grammar and not being as good speaking German as some of my classmates.  I’ve gotten all depressed because for some reason I feel isolated here, even though I know I have a wonderful circle of friends. I’ve gotten angry at myself for putting on weight, even though I’ve started eating better and started running again and have lost 2.5kg in the last 2 weeks. All in all, it’s been one crap week and I’ll be glad to see it end.

I know that when I get like this, I need to go and do things to cheer myself up.  Tomorrow I’ll be hitting the Christmas markets to shop for Christmas gifts for my family and to indulge in Schmalzkuchen and Glühwein and tomorrow night I’ll be treated to a home-cooked Indian meal by my Indian classmate and will get a chance to get to know some of my classmates better.  Then on Sunday, I’ll be having brunch with a dear friend who I haven’t seen for a couple of weeks. I’ve also just brought a book that explains German grammar in English and will be diving into that as soon as it arrives.  I know things will get better and this horrible dark feeling won’t last forever, but I really hate these low feeling weeks.

German Letter Writing

My A1 test is coming up next month and one of the exercises we have to do in the test is to write a letter.  Therefore, our German homework over the weekend is to write a letter to someone back home about Hamburg.

Here is my attempt, a letter to my friend Kym back in Sydney.

Liebe Kym,

Ich wohne jetzt schon acht Monate in Hamburg.  Hamburg ist sehr schön und ich liebe es hier. Meine Wohnung ist in Eimsbüttel und nah der Supermarkt und die Drogerie.
Meinen Nachbar sind ruhig und freundlich.
Letze Woche waren meine Eltern in Hamburg. Wir sind zu Michael’s, St. Nikolai und Miniatur Wunderland gegangen. Am Sontag wir sind zum Hafengeburtstag gegangen. Mein Vater hat die Schiffe geliebt.
In Hamburg kann man viel machen: ins Rathaus gehen, im Stadtpark spazieren gehen und in der Mönckebergstraße einkaufen. Hamburg hat sogar ein englisches Kino Streits heißen. Einen Film kostet €9. Es ist billiger als Australien Kinos.
Ich hat viele freunden gemacht. Am Sonntag abends gehen wir zu Finnegan’s Wake für pub trivia. Es ist in Englisch. Diese Woche kamen wir siebten. Wir sind nicht sehr gut aber wir haben spass.
Ich vermisse dich. Besuchen bald!

Herzlich Gruß,

I’m still really struggling with accusative, nominative and dative cases.  I know the various forms but I have no idea when to use them.  I flunked grammar in school and am now struggling to learn it in a foreign language.  I’m hoping that one day it will just click into place, but probably not before my exam.

Please feel free to pick out all the mistakes I have made.  I have already annoyed the wonderful German speakers on Twitter about the correct way to say ‘My father loved the ships’ in German (I never knew it was so damn complicated) but I’m sure every other sentence also contains errors.

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Dreaming of German Grammar

My German class has finally reached learning about one of the pain points of German grammar – Accusative, Nominative and Dative pronouns.  These seriously are screwing with my mind.  I can not get my head around them, probably because I never understood them in English grammar.  I foresee some quality time being spent with a grammar textbook in my very near future.

Last night in class we struggled with dative pronouns using them in conjunction with in, auf and an for masculine, feminine and neutral nouns and then putting them in sentences. I came home, I did my homework on the same subject and went wearily to bed with my brain totally confused.

Therefore, it probably should have come to no surprise that I began dreaming of constructing dative pronouns, but what was most annoying was that my brain also decided to give me a very rare romantic dream at the same time.  So there I was in my dream with an amazingly gorgeous woman who is wanting to move on to more interesting activities but I am constructing sentences using dative pronouns and asking her if I got them right instead.

I woke up seriously pissed off with my subconscious, but I think I may have finally got the pattern of dative pronouns down. I wonder if this gorgeous woman will turn up in my dreams again to teach me about when something is accusative, nominative or dative.  I might forgive my subconscious if it could finally make me understand that.

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