Thursday, August 6, 2009

Back to School, Back to School....

(feel free to sing that title "Billy Madison" style)

On Tuesday I started tracking down language schools. I did a google search, mapped out which schools were closest to my apartment and started pounding the pavement. I quickly discovered that schools are much more competitive here than in Berlin. Not only are programs cheaper, but courses throw in a trial class, books, even coffee and cookies. After visiting 4 schools and taking 3 placement tests, I was experiencing some major brain drain. I picked a little school with an intensive course and some nice social activities. (Ryan and I need to make some friends!)

Wednesday was my trial class. I had only tested into B-1, which was the course I was taking in Berlin, but after talking with one of the teachers they moved me up to B-2. Apparently my speaking and comprehension is a full level above my grasp of grammar! I was surprised to be the only American in the class; the others being Belarussian, Swedish, Norwegian, Indonesian, Spanish, Croatian, and Thai. Some are shy, and some are loud. All are quirky. In particular there is a Russian woman, Natasha, who speaks a mile a minute and likes to talk about things like "the eternal soul of a tree."

But the funniest moment came during our speaking exercise. We were doing mock job interviews. The class was divided into four "bosses" and four "applicants." I was an applicant. They tried to lob difficult and often illegal questions at us. After I claimed to have 20 years of IT experience, Natasha asked "ah but aren't you too old for this job?"

The Indonesian girl, Chila, interviewed last and was very nervous. She is petite and held on to the bottom of the chair the whole time. Magnus, a Swede, finally asked her "If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?"

Chila smiled and said "Star!" She let go of the chair to trace an outline of a star. Natasha intoned "We have no Hollyvood here!" Everyone snickered, but Chila confidently continued. "I like the star. It is shiny. It is shiny and smooth and shines above all the world. If I work for your company, I will shine, and then your whole company will shine. And soon your company shine above the whole world. That is my dream. Thank you." With that she gave a slight head bow and sauntered out of the classroom.

And these cultural crack-ups are what I really love about school.

No comments: