I have begun my struggle through the incomprehensible terrain that is the german language. For me it is definitely a challenge!! From the three types of THE Die, Der and Das, to the multiple uses of the word sie whether it be for she, You plural or the formal you. Also the constant questioning of whether a word was masculine or feminine! with spanish i felt the word was a give away El Toro, La piscina the words sounded manly/ feminine! here its like a vicious game of russian roulette and constant second guessing oneself. I am undoubtedly eager to learn,because to me this actually meant something. It meant an end to a summer of loneliness due to language barriers and an ability to order a chocolate “kuchen” without fear or just a plain “gipfelli”. If german was not hard enough, then you have to try and decipher the divide between high german and the swiss german which is utilised here in basel. I haven’t a hope!
My classmates are a lovely, but strange mishmash of people. I sit beside a wonderful brazillian girl who unfortunately has little, to no english. We communicate mostly with elaborate gestures, with intense eye contact and random bursts of hysteric laughter. I can tell she’s a kind soul and perhaps she sees something in me too, as we our permanent class buddies, maybe dare i say it, friends. I so badly want to learn to speak to her properly but i feel i dont have enough time.
There is another beautiful, elegant serbian girl with a radiant smile .She is timid but pleasant. We share the occasional amble to the Bahnof Sbb ( swiss railway station) together. When saying goodbye she leant in to kiss me on either cheek. I was not used to such close and personal behaviour. In Ireland i feel you only gain hugging privelleges after three months of close friendship ,otherwise you can be gauranteed you would be viewed as ” a bit touchy feely ” . So i just stayed still,panicking within my shell, like a snail in the desert sun. I left it too late of course, and she left with a strange expression on her face. Should i have chased her? Probably not.. She would think i was embarking on a childish game of kiss chase. Either that or she might feel I was a ravenous rapist, looking for my next victim.. anyway moving on…
There is also two other brazillian girls in the class. One is prone to bouts of random moodswings and suffers from an overload of “emocianales” which seem to be out of her control. She storms out of the class when questions are asked of her which the other girl referred to as a “latino moment”. She is very beautiful though and when she smiles she really lights up the room. She just doesn’t smile very often but i couldn’t really blame her. Having no english or german would definitely make me upset too! The other is a much calmer laid back woman with a child at home. She keeps her friend grounded, translating into portugeuse where necessary.
Then we have the wonderful newyorker! Her first question of course was “where is the air conditioning?” I think she said what we were all thinking. I feel like a battered cod most days in that class, moist and sweating in my breadcrumb coat,in that Deutsch furnace. She is also beautiful and speaks fluent spanish. She had a long flowing pocohantas like mane and dark ebony skin. She is a very prominent character in the classroom ,forever questioning frau sybille, and eating things in class ( such as a yoghurt which nearly turned to cheese by twelve o clock) She also has a love of rare steak and often asks our vegetarian teacher very distressing questions.
Then we have two men of both japanese and asian descent. They both have their little quirky habits. The chinese man tends to medidate, while the japanese man is prone to bouts of booming laughter and introduced himself in a rather flamboyant fashion ” I AM A STUDENT, GOOD MORNING! I FEEL I AM IN HEAVEN WITH SO MANY BEAUTIFUL WOMEN BESIDE ME”. The two had a squabble though over a vocabulary game. ” HAHA I WIN, JAPAN ALWAYS WIN AGAINST CHINA”. Frau shneider was forced to be a referee in a possible jostling match, as the young chinese man went out to the hall to medidate, to calm his nerves.
The teacher herself is a eccentric but wonderful woman, who i have yet to see frown or look even slightly impatient. She has a tendency to wear loose fitting clothes and not a smidgeon of make up could be seen on her pale face. She made everyone feel comfortable and feel safe, as we attempted to grapple with the ever growing body of vocabulary, rules and angry pronounciations.
I have only ever had one mishap, in which I declared that i was a panda. She had asked us waren sie schon einmal in den ferien? ( or something to that effect) I naturally didnt have a clue, as usual. So i interpreted that as what kind of animal i was in my past life ( she had drawn a time line with liebe written above it on and an arrow pointing backwards. ) I Gave the question some deep contemplation. I certainly wasnt a cheetah , they were much too fast. A bear was far to agressive and a hawk too observant. I would be a warm fat rotund animal for sure, but definitely not a grizzly. “ICH BIN EIN PANDA”. she stared at me,with a worried frown splayed accross her face. ” PANDA?! WAS IS DAS?! NEIN! NICHT ANIMAL” “I ASKED YOU WHERE YOU HAD BEEN ON HOLIDAYS”. She laughed so hard tears formed in her eyes and rolled down her freckled cheeks. Another incident that could perhaps be mentioned was when my humour was intepreted as a serious statement leading people to believe that leprauchans did in fact exist in ireland.
” So on saint patricks day people dress in green like little leprachauns?”Where did that idea come from ?” “well it’s quite sad really. In ireland in the early 18th century, people lived in tight knit communities, and often inter clan relationships took place, leading to some deformities at birth and a high rate of dwarfism. Those people were cast out in society and labelled as leprauchans and thats where the name came from. Like we all laugh about it now but it’s quite tragic really ”
“OH MEINN GOTT HOW HORRIBLE”. ..it was too late to back out now ” Yeah there have been some charities set up for dwarfism and stuff but the name really stuck, biscuit anyone?”. Note to self never try to be funny with swiss german language teachers again, they will not get sarcasm. Though admittedly i took that joke way too far.
Classes end on wednesday.. I do not want them to end, because it is the first time since i have arrived that i have not felt alone and that i felt truly part of a community. It is with great sorrow i depart from klub schule despite all my hausafgaben ( homework ):( I guess all good things come to an end?