October 17, 2007

International German Students Unite

Though much has been happening, I haven't been able to write in the past few days, mostly due to exhaustion and activity. I started my German classes on Monday, and have already completed 12 of this week's 18 hours of learning. The thing that surprised me the most about the classes is how the students are from such varying backgrounds. I had expected a lot more North Americans, or at least English speakers, but in fact, I am the only native English speaker out of about 20 people. There are students from Bosnia, Kosovo, Egypt, China, Iran, Russia, Thailand, and Nigeria.The class is about half girls, half boys, and about half of the girls are married. One of the things that being in such an international environment has made me realize is how I took for granted that the way that I was brought up was "normal". Today in class I was trying to imagine all the different experiences that so many people must have, to have all ended up in the same room. I'm sure that the childhood and adolescence of Julia, the Russian girl, must have been as different from my own as Mohammed's, who is from Egypt.

The classes themselves are fun, and there is a really nice feeling among the students. Every one is very kind to one another, which I find really enjoyable. Though English is sometimes used as a common language if the German equivalent is unknown, the fact that no one really speaks the same language means that we are forced to speak German to each other. Because there is no other choice, every one is patient and helpful. I don't know whether it is a cultural difference, or whether it just differs from my own experience, but the attitude of the students here seems to be in stark contrast to the indifference most students have for each other at McGill. In the three days that I have attended classes in Graz, I have learned more about most of the students in my class than I did in a semester of German classes at McGill.

So, I am very much enjoying the company of the other students in my class, but the class itself has actually been a bit disappointing. The teachers are helpful and I like the way that they are teaching us, but most of the material that we are learning is stuff that I learned halfway through my German class last year. There is another placement test in about two weeks, when, they have told us, we will be rearranged according to our results. I would like to be in a class that is more challenging because I really want to improve my German, and I don't think it's going to get any better going over stuff that I already know. On the other hand, if we have 18 hours of class a week, it is possible that this class will get harder pretty quickly. I'm going to sit it out until the placement test, and then see how I do.

Other than school, we went to the Office Pub for the weekly Pub Quiz last night, and came in 8th, up from 16th the week before. I was able to contribute a lot, which was satisfying. Can you answer: "Which N.R. celebrity was born Nicole Camille Escovedo?" After the Quiz we went for Kebap at a stand near our new apartment. I am so excited to live there. It is so close to everything that we will just be able to have everyone over to our house instead of having to argue about which bar or restaurant to meet at. Unfortunately, the Germans have told us that they probably won't be ready for us to move in until the end of the month. This is particularly annoying at 7:30 in the morning, which is when I have to leave for school in order to get there in time from Christian's parents house. From our new apartment it will only take about 10 minutes. SIGH.

Ok-- I have to go to bed. I have a feeling that this entry wasn't as well thought out as others, but I have been so keen to do German homework that I am already tired at midnight. Tomorrow I finish at 10:35, so Christian is going to meet me at school (in part so that the Bosnian boys stop trying to marry me) and we are going to go look for bikes. Gute Nacht.


noran said...

nicole richie...duuhhhhhh