I’ve only been in my German class two days, but there’s already an awful lot to chew on. I’ve basically gotten out from under the fog of sickness, I’ve had 2 real bike rides and both have been glorious. Months ago I imagined cycling out past the edge of Munich into the green hills and mountains of Southern Bavaria, and through the flat northern stretches towards Nuremberg. I’ve now done both, I’ve pedaled through my own dreams, and I cried both times. On Sunday I saw the Alps out there like ghosts in the distance. Not so far.
So now with a better grip on myself I begin my German class. It's positioned as the 3rd class, so I tested out of the bottom 2. So far I’ve gotten compliments from the other students of how good I am, but I’ve got the advantage of enthusiasm and months spent in preparation.
The students are from everywhere. It’s fascinating. Japan, Bulgaria, Barcelona, Romania, China, India, Ukraine, The Congo, Uruguay, New Zealand, Greece, Ecuador, California and Texas. Yes, it is a big class, and yes, the Americans identified themselves by state. The narcissism of minor differences. The teacher barrels through for 3 hours every afternoon speaking 98% German. So far I’ve understood everything, but other students have expressed to me a dissatisfaction with the teacher. However we only have her Mondays and Tuesday, and Wed - Fri we have a difference teacher, so we’ll have to see how die Zweite Lehrerin is.
The guy from Uruguay sat next to me for the first class, we did our standard issue getting to know you chat and then I looked at his t-shirt. Bright red with a cartoon of Texas on it, with all the highlights: Dallas, Houston, El Paso, no Austin, though. Perhaps in Europe Austin can remain a secret.
The teacher has trouble with the Chinese and Japanese names, but just plows through them with confidence and no embarrassment. I feel like in American there would be a lot of embarrassment and very awkward feelings. Here it’s a quiet moment of mispronunciation, correction and we move on. The teacher also asked a lot about China’s Blood Moon Festival, and described it, sort of dismissively as superstition. I don’t know.
We’re a room full of foreigners trying to gain some knowledge of, and presumable a place in, this woman’s native land. I wonder honestly how she feels about all of us, and the refugees.
Kirill from Ukraine and I got partnered up and when we were done we made small talk. He complained that cell service was too expensive in Germany. I explained the price gap from American to Germany. He was unimpressed, 4 Euros a month is all he paid back home. I wonder how well of Kirill is back in Ukraine. I haven’t yet asked him why he’s here in Deutschland.
It seems like my class buddy is going to by Kyriakos. He keeps chatting with me at the breaks, and I don’t mind, his German is pretty good, so we can talk about a few more interesting things. At one point the teacher used the word “Psychologisch” and Kyriakos leaned over to me and said “das ist ein Griechisches wort.” Interested I asked “es ist Latein, oder?” “That’s a greek word” “it’s latin, isn’t it?” He huffed slightly and agreed. Later Joe told me that I’d stepped in some pretty good Greek cultural doo-doo.
It must not have been too bad, Kyriakos walked with me to my bike after class, he was all curious, he told me about how he has his girlfriend here, and they speak Greek together all the time, he’s getting a degree in sport science while he works at a Greek cafe. When I told him I was here because I wanted to be, and not for a job or degree, when I told him I was alone with no friends here, no girlfriend, just a little outpost of myself he literally stopped in his tracks, looked at me and said: “Du best ein verrückte man!”
You are a crazy man.