Got a tip that registration for community college courses started yesterday. The München Volkshochschule is the go to place for cheap, but intense German classes. I’ve heard extremely varying reviews of the other, private institutions, and the Goethe institute is supposedly the gold standard, but I can’t exactly drop a grand on a language course.
So, I woke up, hopped on my bike and rode to The Gasteig. The Gasteig is a large building in the center of town that houses the Philharmonic, a library branch, a Musik school, hosts a film festival or two, and holds a Volkshochschule campus. I’m 2 miles from it, so it’s a quick pedal up the river and I’m there. I arrived just before the advice and testing (Beratung and Prüfung) office opened and after a short wait behind some excited Italians I was sitting in front of a nice German guy who I understood perfectly well. He was impressed that I had nearly a year of self-teaching.
So this fine gentleman gave me two tests: the A2/B1 test and the B1 test. I was to finish each in less than 10 minutes and they would determine what level class to go in. A2 is advanced beginner and B1 is intermediate. He said I got a 60 on the B1 and a 80 or so on the A2/B1 test. That sounded about right to me. So I am now enrolled for a very intense 5 day a week, 4 hour a day German course coming up in late September.
I’m excited. There are standard course, intensive courses, and integration courses. Integration courses couple language with culture knowledge, I think. I’ll be going the intensive route. I was tempted by this, but I hope to get more cultural knowledge through contact.
On that front I’ve been told about something called Tandem which is where you join up with a person wanting to learn or practice the language that you speak, and they speak the language you want to practice. So I’ve been on a few sites, filled our a few profiles, and am realizing how much this is like online dating. I was warned by a friend that this is how some people use Tandem. I guess I can see why. When I look through the pages of faces I have no metric for how to pick a guy. There don’t seem to be shared interest sections in the profiles, and with a girl it’s easier to think “she’s pretty, I’ll sit with a coffee and try and talk with her.” The primary focus for me is speaking partners, so it’s just a weird aspect of this I’m having to think about.
I got a great ticket to The Valkyrie yesterday, and I actually met a guy from America, Sam, who is a massive Wagner fan, so I think we’re going out to Füssen to see the opera together. There’s plenty of Hostel space in Füssen, and it appears the Opera house is a good 30 minute walk back to town, which sounds about right after 5 hours of intense drama. It feels good to already be starting on one of the major projects of my German stay. Füssen is only 5km from Schwangau where Mad King Ludwig built Neuschwanstein as a tribute to Bavaria, Bavarian Royalty and the works of Wagner. I have every intention of getting a little hike in the Alps in before the show.
Fall is slowly sliding in on us, and I’m realizing how wrong so much of my wardrobe is. Especially the “essentials” I chose to bring with me.
I really wanted to get my visa sorted out or at least begun this week, but the bank continues to drag its feet, and I’ve got enough other projects to do that I feel it can wait. Soon though I’ll have to consider bailing on the free online bank and joining the München Stadtsparkasse.