Learning German to Study in Germany - A Didactic Story

Posted by Darya Dmytruk • Tuesday, December 27, 2011 • Category: Crossing Cultures
My first contact with the German language was just two weeks before arriving in Germany. It was a crash course to pass an interview at the embassy. Finally, five years ago, I set my foot on the Teutonic lands and since this time my life has been undergoing big changes. If you are unlucky enough to have a passport from one of the post-Soviet Union countries, your world ends at the border to the next EU country. A round trip to Paris for ten days could be the biggest dream that you can afford. I was yet a naive girl and tried to live in Germany without knowing German for the next six months, but I was fortunate enough to learn English to get me by. Sure, I could have been getting by like this, but my destiny said "No!" and I soon found myself in a line to submit my application for a German course.

Children wearing traditional Bavarian dress
(c) by akante1776
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/11332944@N06/4038538044/]

I have always heard that German is a difficult language to learn and as most people, I did not like the idea of bringing another difficult challenge into my life. Surprisingly, in only two months I could begin to communicate with my friend. She had started to learn German earlier, and, in her linguistic drive, refused to talk to me in English. Besides the obvious benefit of being able to communicate, many other surprises were waiting for me. With my basic level I could finally watch Almodovar's "Volver" at the cinema. I was happy because finally I could understand, well more than after my attempt to watch it in Spanish.

Germans have the lovely feature of paying compliments about your German language skills - even if you are a beginner! I chose to believe them and continued with the belief that my German was at least much better than their Russian (another excuse not to learn a language).

Munich's historic city centre
(c) by ines saraiva
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/inessaraiva/4006622538/]

The situation with my poor German skills improved when it was high time to earn my living abroad. From this point I could really feel the result of my efforts from attending the classes. A wonderful confiserie in the tourist center of Munich was the best place to practice my German skills: communicating with old ladies with small dogs that wanted only first-class service. In three weeks I no longer had to ask customers to repeat their questions and moved on to the intermediate level.

My job at Oktoberfest also turned out to cause no linguistic problems. My German skills were fit enough to understand even the muttering of drunk people. At that time, seeing people on the metro with green and white bags with the University of Munich logo, I could only imagine how lucky, extraordinary and intelligent they were to be studying there. The thought of entering the university did not enter my mind and I continued to attend the courses to improve my German. Once again I found myself one step behind my friend. She was going to take the DaF exam (roughly B1 level), a German language test that would allow her to enter the university.

Part of the beautiful Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität campus in Munich
(c) by Depeche Mode wrong
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/jennifersdaddy/450602007/]

Nevertheless, within little time I reached an advanced level in German and the happy day of admission to the German student world came. Now I am a student of one of the best universities in Germany, Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität in Munich, studying the subjects religious studies and anthropology. Sounds good, but behind the scenes, in contrast to all those who have German as their mother tongue, I really feel the difference in the amount of work I have to do. You have to struggle with every text or composition until daybreak. Any presentation of a paper makes you sweat and you still cannot participate in discussions and have to keep silent as if you had nothing to say.

Our life is too short and we have to appreciate every moment of it. We should invest our time and efforts into that. So do not repeat my mistake - do it better! Learn German in advance and enjoy the country as much as you can!

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