So last week I was told that there would be canoeing in Sports class (the German equivalent of Physical Education). My Opa used to make kayaks, and watersports like that have always been a big thing for me. I've always loved it, and so I was excited. Thursday came (the first day with Sports in it in the week for my class) and I was all ready to go canoeing in Germany (and knowing that I now have that on the list of things that I have done is really cool). We split ourselves into groups of four, got our life-jackets, paddles, and canoes ready, and got into the canoes in the water. I and the other three guys in my group were the second group onto the river. We headed out, canoeing down the river, and it was pretty fun (and the river itself was very beautiful). Once class was getting close to ending, we turned around and began to head back towards the school. My group wanted to go faster - as fast as we felt we could go, and then we went a little faster, because why not?
So we were canoeing at top speed when the canoe started to go a little off course, heading towards the riverbank which had lots of bushes and branches and such poking out over the water. I was seated at the front of the canoe, which means that most of the shrubbery was going to replant itself into my face, which I didn't want (surprising, I know), if we continued at the rate that we were going. So I started to say, more to myself than to anyone else, "No no no no no, no no no no NEIN." We were collaboratively trying to turn the canoe away, but our efforts weren't really working, and in the end our canoe tipped over and we fell into the water for an unexpected swim! The good news was that my face was perfectly intact with no botanic additions. The bad news was that we found ourselves to be a little wet.
The water was surprisingly warm - if it hadn't smelled so badly, I would consider swimming there again. Once we got all of the canoe business taken care of, and once we had gotten ourselves out of the water, I started to run home. One really nice thing about where I live in Hamburg is that I live so close to everything - including my school, making it possible for me to run home. I think I've mentioned this before: I am hard of hearing, and I have hearing aids. Which don't like getting wet. So as I was running home, soaking wet (which was actually kind of fun, and come to think of it, must have been an interesting sight for those that I ran past on the way home), I could hear my left hearing aid getting quieter and quieter, slowly calling it quits. Some German words are becoming more and more automatic for me (a good thing, I think), so as I ran home I thought "Oh nein nein nein nein nein nein nein, Oh nein nein nein nein nein!"
I got home, and realized I forgot my house key at school in my Rucksack (backpack). So as the sounds to the left of me gradually grew duller, I frantically rang the doorbell repeatedly, hoping someone was home. After a few minutes passed by with no result, I switched to ringing both doorbells (there is a doorbell by the front gate and a doorbell by the front door of my house), hoping this would convey the urgency of the moment to any possible people in the house. Eventually my sister Elizabeth showed up at the door and I thrust my hearing aid at her. We managed to get that taken care of, and I showered and ran back to school. I got back from that evening and tried out my hearing aid, and thankfully it worked!
Now, only a few days later, looking back at this memory makes me happy - happy that I now have such a story. I can only hope that I get even more stories over the course of my year here in Germany (although hopefully not quite so risky).
Okay, switching gears now. I guess the rest of this post will be related in one way or another to language learning (or not learning).
Right now, not knowing a lot of German in a predominantly German speaking country is difficult. Luckily I have managed to find some English speakers (with my host siblings being among them; and anyone who can speak half-decent English has automatically become one of my best friends) but I can't expect them to translate everything for me, and I am here to learn the language. I'm still enjoying myself, it just can be hard sometimes.
It's like when you are swimming and dive deep under. You spin around a few times, and suddenly you are lost, floating in space, not knowing what way is up. Where the sky is. Where a breath of fresh air is. You're lost, you're drowning, and it's possible that you are only a few feet from the surface which makes it even more frustrating. It feels like you're falling short so close to the finish. Sometimes I think I've found the surface, and an excitement takes over. And then sometimes it feels like I'm drowning in German again, just as far as - if not further than - where I started. I'm told that I'm getting better though, so I am hopeful. Sometimes if I have a class that I don't understand anything in, I get a crystal clear image of turquoise water in my head, surrounding me, with a glare of what looks like an unattainable sun beaming it's way through the water from an undetermined location. It is actually kind of cool. I want to draw it, but have no clue how.
Luckily, my awesome Deutsch (Deutsch class is just like Canada's English class, except in German) and Englisch teacher saw that I still wasn't really understanding that much. We'd talked before about how I don't know too much German, and she wanted to help me (which I am super appreciative about). There is a class at my school for refugees, to help them learn German. It's a fairly small class, so my teacher asked if I could join them during the classes that I find hardest to understand, and it was said that I can! I've gone a few times now, and I really like it. I'm meeting lots of nice people (so far, everyone I have met is super nice) and it is really cool. I just started this class last Friday, so I haven't had the chance to learn too much from it yet, but I think it will be a great help for me. I am very grateful that I get to go!
Until I get better at German, I've decided that the language of smiles mixed in with broken German, a good attitude, and a developing talent for charades is my best way of communication. Even when I have no clue what is going on, or don't know how to reply to something, a genuine smile does the trick. It is a wonder how big of a conversation you can have, how many messages you can get across, with a simple exchange of smiles.
This isn't to say that I don't know any German, aber es ist sehr schlecht, und es ist nicht wie ich möchte es (rough German for 'but it is very bad, and it is not how I want it'). I'm told that I'm improving - and often I'm very pleased with the progress that I am making - but in the end I am a bit of an impatient person, so I guess it is just not going as fast as Impatient Me would like. Oh well, I will get there.
In a few weeks my class is going on a five day class trip to Berlin, which I am pretty stoked for! I can't wait, as I think it will be lots of fun, and super cool to get to go to Berlin.
Anyways, Franzosisch Klasse (French class) is coming to an end, and I don't have much more to say, so I guess that this is as good of a place as any to end this post. When I get home I'll edit this and hopefully post this tomorrow [Future/Current Jason Edit: today is tomorrow to the Jason that wrote this post].
Hopefully you are all doing well, and having as great of a time as I am! Talk to you soon!