Saturday, December 30, 2006

Can´t understand german

Had a birthday party today and I wish I could say that it was just as great as my Christmas - but I can´t. Nothing particularly bad happened, but I felt so horrible about my inability to understand german once again. Its so mega tough to understand german, when everybody speaks so fast and more often than not, people talk at the same time. I tried a couple of times to grasp what the people were saying but it was simply way too difficult for me. Plus, to make things worse, I realize that when Stephan is there, people talk to him, but when I´m there, nobody really bothers to talk to me. It kinna seems like whoever I try to talk to, has a phobia of beginning a conversation with me! I tried to have a couple of conversation starters like "How´s your Christmas?" But its like so difficult to get a normal conversation going on, cos I guess it doesn´t help when my german sucks and its tough for the others to speak to me in english. I´ve also noticed that people don´t really make eye contact with me when talking in a group....

Typical Scenario: I start a conversation with someone and am able to understand a couple of things. Stephan comes along and is included in the conversation - The conversation immediately shifts to between Stephan and the other person and I´m simply left out. The eye contact becomes only existent between Stephan and the other person - and its as if I was never in the conversation in the first place. Isn´t it such that its harder to understand a foreign language when people don´t even look you in the eye to talk?!?

My german is technically only 4-months old, but there´s no concession about that. Nobody slows down to speak german to me. And I can´t help but have the feeling that whoever I end up talking to, is like "stuck in a trap of talking to Priscilla". Its like people are "running away" from speaking to me, so whoever gets stucks sitting on the left or right of me, ends up having to say something to me. And honestly, I feel like the one who "sets the trap - starts the conversation" and the "unwitting" person has to talk to me.

I called my Dad today and he was actually quite surprised when I told him that without german proficiency, its almost impossible to find a job that is in line with a university degree. I had to tell him that if I were staying in a bigger city like Frankfurt or so, I would have been able to get a job transfer in PwC to the german office - without a prior knowledge of german. However, Stuttgart is way smaller compared to Frankfurt and simply put, without german you just don´t get a job. I always thought that with a english proficiency, its possible to survive in most parts of the world. But just not in Germany. People here speak much less english compared to countries like Netherlands or Norway, simply because there is no need for a 80-million country to speak the international language. The language barrier is tremendous.

Ahhhh.... I´m beginning to look into the possibility of going back to Singapore after my integration course ends in February 2007 and learn german there instead. And only go back to Germany when my german is actually proficient. Its so tough to survive in Germany when your german is somewhere in between non-existent and elementary. And I honestly do miss home - my family and friends. More so whenever I feel like I´m in an intellectual vacuum.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know how frustrated you must feel regarding the language barrier and difficulties but it is a normal phase and you will get over it after a few months. The best way to learn a language is to be in the environment , in that country exposed to that language day and night and in every situation possible. Hang on tight and don't be too hard on yourself, it is a phase but an important one and with time, you will realise that your german will improve and you will be able to have a proper conversation with Step's friends and not feel left out anymore.


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