Life in Berlin. Where do I begin?
I have dropped off the radar, which is relatively atypical of me, since I’m a writer, a communicator, a blogger, et cetera. I have no reasonable explanation for why I’ve stopped responding to emails, updating this site, or keeping in contact in general – except that I’ve been living.
It’s a strange thing to transition from being in a place only in the sense that it’s a vacation destination to actually living there. Suddenly the things that were so exciting and new are still exciting and new, but they’re not fleeting. They’re my life. I feel like I no longer have to record every detail, because it’s not my vacation. It’s my every day. And that is an amazing feeling, knowing that I’m doing what I want, what I love, all the time.
So what have I been doing? Well, as of late, language school.
During my course of studies in university, I took four semesters of German, which is the equivalent of “ground level.” On the CEFR scale, that means I am independent or advanced intermediate student. Out of the six levels, I’ve taken three. Arguably, the third and fourth levels are the most difficult. This is where the major grammatical concepts are covered, as opposed to the simple sentences and vocabulary of the first two levels. Meanwhile, the final two are concerned less with grammar and more with connecting everything on a higher level and working on conversational aspects and increased vocabulary.
Although I took German through the B1 level, I opted to test into that level once I was here. This is because although I am quite good at grammar, my speaking skills are nowhere close to where I’d like them to be. I’m someone who understands most of what’s occurring around me but can rarely contribute in any meaningful way – in other words, my spoken vocabulary is quite passive.
So I enrolled in the Volkshochschule. I’m in a German-intensive course, studying 25 hours each week. I started at the beginning of B1, which is divided into two levels, B.1.1 and B.1.2, each of which is a month long. At the end of next week, I’ll have completed all of B1. After a month-long winter break, I will begin B2, moving up through the levels to C1 and eventually C2. If I stay on track, I should be “fluent” by summer. Which is an awesome feeling.
Already I’ve noticed how much more fluid my speaking is. I still am anxious from time to time, but generally, I don’t worry when talking to other people. I just do it and it’s beginning to come much more naturally. And this is exactly what I needed, as the first three months here, there was little to no improvement in my German. But in the past two months, it’s been unbelievable how much I’ve picked up and how much I’ve grown in my command of the language. I’m not yet dreaming in German, but I do already curse in German and say the words “genau” and “nee” far too often, even when speaking with native English speakers. Slowly but surely, I’m arriving.