Friday, 27 May 2016

3 years on

Facebook reminded me that it's been nearly 3 years since we moved.

Is it weird that it doesn't seem significant? But I sort of want to remind myself that it is.

Because 3 years ago I was a ballet and French teacher. Malcolm was working at a waste water company. We lived in the teeny tiny flat that I moved into in 2011. I drove my maroon golf and Malcolm his blue fiat. On the day we left, poor fiat was at the garage being repaired after a rather tedious towing episode, ending with the bar loosening and me leaving Malcolm behind with only a block to go. We'd hang out at the mall and go to Fego to look at books and drink macadamia flavoured milkshakes. Caramel dipped cones were our standard order at Steers. We'd rent videos from college road and sprinkle our popcorn with the salt sachet left over from the cinema. I'd hang my laundry outside where it would dry in a couple hours. unless a storm blew over. We'd use a string mop to clean the floors and fling the windows wide open. I'd go grocery shopping and buy cornflakes and Chelsea buns and Simba chips. And instant coffee powder. We'd attend church on the other side of town, and hang out afterwards for coffee. The evening service was a good way to end the weekend. We'd drive home and put the car lights on bright as we approached the electric gate, peer around and hope we'd be safe. We'd lock and close curtains. Family was always so close by and a weekend visit would usually involve dogs and cake and grandparents and hugs.

Oh man, life really was different. Not better and not worse. But I forget how different. On the anniversary of our move, we'll be in the Czech republic at a conference for international student ministry... Not at all what I pictured 3 years ago when my eyes welled up with tears as the plane lifted off the tarmac.

But something that really hasn't changed? My belief that we're exactly where God wants us. Sometimes it doesn't feel like it. Sometimes I feel like punching Malcolm in the shoulder and shouting 'why did you make us come here?!' Sometimes I'm impatient and restless. Sometimes I feel like our dreams are so very unattainable. Sometimes I long for 'average', 'comfortable', 'stable'... and sometimes life seems to be exactly that. Or less. Sometimes that's comforting, and sometimes it feels like a bad fit. Sometimes it feels like we're 'stuck' yet 'passing through' and waiting for life to begin.

But then I remember how big and faithful and loving and omnipotent and forgiving and just our God is. That His ways aren't our ways, and that He'll make our path straight. That the safest and most adventurous place is in His hands and in His will.

So, 3 years in Germany, many experiences behind us, and many to come. And one BIG God.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

German isn't that hard

That's pure click-bait right there, because it absolutely is hard. 
My secret weapon, apart from trying to speaking quickly in an attempt to mask a myriad of errors in grammar, is English. Ok, so it's no secret I can speak English, but I've recently realised just how much English I can throw into German and get away with.  

Now usually I'd decry this and say that languages should defend their authenticity and vocabulary... down with the universality of English!!! Language Purity!!! Rah rah rah!!!

But who am I kidding? It's awesome getting to throw in some English, and have it understood ;)

Of course, English words need to be said with a German accent, otherwise you just sound like you can't speak German. pfff. Or nobody will understand you, and they'll be like, das check' ich nicht.

But, feel free to throw words like vorkahohlic, vorkshop and feedbeck into your meetings and conversations with colleagues. Heck, you can even use feedbeck as a verb... lass uns mal kurz feedbecken, ja? 

And if you need to talk about tech-y things? No worries! Ich habe mein Facebook Status up-ge-dated, or ge-updated... I'm pretty sure I've heard both. There's also ein-loggen, and googlen, and ge-posted. See? No sweat there!

Shopping is easy, too. I learnt most of my German in this category while living in Cologne where we had TV and I could watch Shopping Queen Shohpping Kveen to my heart's content. But, as it turns out, many things are named in English, anyway. Some things sound ridiculous, like vellness hose or jogging hose for tracksuit or sweat pants. (But then vellness is usually used completely out of context anyway, and I'm yet to hear it used in any similar fashion in English where "wellness" as a noun is rather rare.) In lingerie shopping, once you've figured out that a bra is a BH (beh-hah), you're good to go and figuring out what a long-BH is, is easy! And while you're in the same section, you just need your imagination to decipher what a shtring is.

Now if you have anything to do with children, you'll need to learn the word babysitten, and you'll most certainly soon come to understand the words fair and unfair - both squealed with a delightful accent, until you give everybody a Lolly.

With friends, your English will go quite far if you arrange to meet them somewhere to chill - chillen, and the guys may want to go kicken (because that's essentially all that soccer is, right?). If it's a friend's birthday, don't worry! You'll sing the usual version of Happy Birthday, but you'll have to change it to heppy birsdey and remember to swap dear for liebe/r. I find that a little strrange (remember to roll your 'r' slightly on that one), but I'll go with it.

Now don't be alarmed if anybody suggests something to do with pimpen, because it has nothing to do with what you think. Essentially, somebody watched 'Pimp My Ride' and since then it seems to get used as the verb when one wants to improve something or even just generally add to something. So you can pimp your pizza, you can pimp an outfit, you can pimp your table decor. Just be careful when you pronounce it that you don't add an 'r' and make that pimpern, or your friends will be very concerned about your relationship with pizza.

There are also some English words that I really can't take seriously when they're used in German. Like a beamer referring to a projector. Or a Handy for a cellphone. And the annoying thing is, it's only a matter of time until you start asking where your Handy is when attempting to speak normal English.
Meanwhile, other English word-choices just sound brutal. The first time I heard about pre-school kids mobbing one another, I really was rather concerned about the kids in the neighbourhood! It may just be due to my desensitisation to the word, but mobbing sounds a lot more extreme than bullying, right?!

Anyway, I'd recommend throwing English with a German accent into just about any sentence in the hopes that it makes sense, but you really do need to be careful about some false friends. Like mist. I remember talking to a sweet old lady on the topic of weather (because, come on, what else do you talk about?), and trying to say that there had been a lot of mist that day. Heute vormittag gab es richtig viel... Mist? She would have understood that there'd been a lot of 'manure' in the area. And that's not very nice. (Even though you can totally use 'nice'. At least in my 'hood.)

The cool thing, though, is that you can use just about any word and few people will know how acceptable it really is. Seeing Sh*tstorm on large advertisements, or hearing it from Angela Merkel, seems to have made it perfectly acceptable. Who knows what we can introduce to German next?! :D

To end off, let me reassure you. Even if you mess up, even then, English has your back. Don't worry about the Entschuldige or Entschuldigen Sie that your language books Google Translate suggests. Because even then, you simply need to say sorrry and you're all good. It's that Zimpel. 

***Disclaimer: I haven't studied linguistics. Or German. I may be wrong. Half of this may be legitimate German after all. I may explain things incorrectly. Please go ahead and correct me where I'm wrong!***