I know it’s been a while since I’ve written, but a lot has been happening in the last month. I’m going to reflect on some things I’ve learned and accomplished after my first summer in Deutschland.
- The Language:
My boyfriend Benedikt sent me this photo the other day and I found it extremely relevant to my situation. I have always heard that the only way to truly learn a language is by living in a country where it’s spoken and immerse yourself in it. I know I am far from perfect, but I am now able to communicate in German daily at work. I don’t mean to sound “bragodocious”, but sometimes I just stop and think, “Wow, I can really speak and understand this language.” I would also like my American friends to know, despite what we hear about the German language sounding so harsh, it actually is quite lovely. I’ve also heard and read that people often take on different personalities in different languages. The other day I was at a bbq with coworkers and I asked a guy for a Bratwurst (I know, it doesn’t get more German than that) and I said in a very polite tone, “Ich hätte gern eine Bratwurst bitte.” One of my coworkers said to me, “Oh, wie süß!” (Oh, how cute). I was thinking to myself if maybe I said it wrong but she told me I sounded so sweet when I asked. I have noticed that I sound much more sweet in German than English. That’s probably because in English I’m so much more sarcastic and witty. Anyways, sweet, German Lauren is doing quite well and coming along nicely.
2. The Job:
I absolutely love my job. I’m currently doing a Bundesfreiwilligendienst, which is a paid volunteer social work program, and I have the opportunity to work at an international boarding school in Germany. My duties include assisting the heads of the houses at school, helping out with homework (I have become the English homework go-to, of course), doing activities and sports with the students, and just being someone to talk to when they want to. It is more slow-paced than my last job as a horse trainer, which was hard for me to get used to at first, but now I’m really enjoying the work I’m doing. The students and staff I work with are amazing, and they have been so helpful and kind with me learning German as well. I’ve already learned so much on the job. At my job, I have also come to appreciate that English is my native language. It is certainly difficult to learn, and it is also used worldwide, which is helpful when dealing with students that come from all over the world. I’m excited to what’s to come for the rest of the year!
I never expected to see the day where I needed to learn how to drive a manual car, but the time has come. I am learning stick-shift because part of my job at the school includes transporting the students places when needed, and the cars we do that in are Volkswagen Bullis (Buses), which are manually driven. I had my first behind-the-wheel lesson in July with a driving school here in Münster, and it was TERRIBLE. It was hard for me to understand what I was supposed to do because the instructor only spoke German and my language skills were not so good at that point. I stalled the car about 4 times and cried. I was so miserable and didn’t think I could ever get this. A simple call to mom made me feel better as she told me she had to learn stick-shift on the freeway driving from LA back to the Inland Empire because she had to get my dad’s car home. Benedikt was also very encouraging through my training. By my 5th lesson, I had it down. Last weekend, I had a mandatory driving training class to be certified safe to drive the cars at the school and I actually had a blast driving stick. It’s a skill that I’m glad I know now, it’s just a shame it’s so seldom taught or used nowadays in the US.
I am so grateful to have found a great barn to ride at here in Germany. The trainer I ride with is very knowledgable, but also quite easy-going. Horses are and forever will be my passion, but it’s a different feeling now when it’s not my job. I feel more relaxed, in a sense, and I take my time to just enjoy the process of riding a young horse and seeing what can be accomplished from the beginning to the end of the ride. Even though I only ride twice a week now, I am so happy when I get out to the stables. With that being said, I am also thankful for the foundation I’ve had in riding in the US, especially at Elvenstar. Without that, I wouldn’t be able to just get on and enjoy myself while working the horse correctly.
5. The Future:
At the moment, I am thinking a lot about the future and what my next step is going to be after my year of working at the school. I do want to pursue my education, whether it be my Masters or a second Bachelors degree, but I do want to stay in Germany. They have excellent universities here, as does the US, but I don’t want to be in student loan debt even more than I currently am. Tuition at public universities in Germany is free (with just a semester fee around 300 Euros, which often includes a SemesterTicket to travel within your school’s state for free), and if I can get an education that is equally as good to one in the US but without the cost, then I definitely will. For those reading and thinking “Hey, I should go to school in Germany since it’s so cheap”, it is not always as easy as it sounds. There are some select programs offered in English, but a majority are in German, or German and English, and then one must be able to reach a level of C1 with their German competency. There are Language Competency levels from A1-C2, and a C1 level is a proficient user in reading, writing, speaking, and hearing. While it may seem to be quite a task, I am up for the challenge and I’m going for it. Wish me luck!
So that was my summer in a nutshell and this is where I’m at in life currently. If you ever have questions or want to know more about living abroad or what I’ve been up to, just shoot me a message!
Bis nächstes mal! Tschüss!
But first enjoy some photos of my summer…. 🙂