Wednesday, September 21, 2016

My week: September 11 ed.

Monday of this week was a holiday so I slept in, bummed around, and went out to pick blackberries with my friend K. This year's crop of blackberries were pitiful; they were either shriveled from being in the sun too long, or were too small and bitter. We spent about an hour picking the ones that looked decent and each took a quart bag home. Last year, I picked so many blackberries that I filled my freezer and even shoved some into the freezer at work.

To be honest, though, I'm rather glad that this year I didn't feel obligated to pick blackberries like I did last year when I probably spent about 18 hours picking them. That sounds completely insane and as if I did it all the time, but it was over the course of a few weeks. I used the activity to relax after an all-consuming work project while listening to audiobooks and the new Tunde Olaniran album. I did get a bit sick of eating blackberries and haven't finished all the bags from last year yet so I can accept the significantly smaller yield this year.

Another night, A and I attended a lecture about Vietnam, which covered its history, culture, and the speaker's experience living there. The lecture was in German so it was a good chance for us to practice our listening skills. There was one part where neither one of us understood what the presenter was describing though. I'm still curious about that part!

I met a group for a language exchange meeting and sat next to a Syrian guy I had met before at a similar meeting. It had been weeks since I'd last seen him; during the previous meeting, he was excited to start a practicum. Curious, I asked him where it was going to be and what he'd be doing. At the time, he had no idea since the organizers hadn't told him much about it, but he was looking forward to working and being productive.

At the current meeting, he filled me in since he'd just finished the practicum. He had been placed in an office that helped others, including some of the refugees too, and had enjoyed the work. While he speaks very good German for someone who has lived here for only a year, he decided that he wants to pass the C1 test to really integrate in the work place.

I did feel sad about part of our conversation. We're hosting an event and we said he should invite his family too. I was starting to say it would be good to bring them, "weil die meisten Leute die Syrer nicht..." and before I could finish, he said, "mögen?"

The next word in my sentence was actually going to be "kennen." In other words, I had said that he should bring his family because most people don't _____ Syrians. He thought I was going to say that people don't like them, when what I actually said was that people don't know them and I went on to explain that it's good to meet people from different backgrounds. It's too bad that he thought that people might not like them. Maybe there are some people like that out there, but in our group, that's not who we are, and I'm glad.

Another evening was the start of a new Volkshochschule class with the same teacher I had in the spring. He's an excellent teacher but the class is somewhat too hard for me again. After much debating with myself, and asking his opinion, I decided to attend. My problem is that I feel as if I'm stuck between levels. Outside of vocabulary, I feel as if I'm past B2. However, C1 is a bit too difficult for me. Why does it feel as if I've missed so much? Is it such a jump between the two levels? Feel free to comment if you have any insights. I do know that I really need to kick my tush into gear with learning vocabulary because that's where I'm the weakest.

At the end of the week, I was exhausted so I stayed home and in one go read the entire 400+ pages of The First 15 Lives of Harry August by Claire North. I love time travel books and quest books; it was right up my alley.

On Saturday, I made my circuit around town, checking out some of the thrift stores, visiting downtown to see what was popping, and studying German for a while in the park. I love having what seem to be slightly lazy Saturdays, which are actually sneakily full of errands of a nosy sort.

After that, I visited the university's gardens for a free tour (in German) about herbs. I had planned to stay for the whole event but it was quite hot in the sun and after biking all over the city, I was hot, sunburned, dehydrated, and tired so I left early.

Sunday was Tag des offenen Denkmals, which is a nationwide heritage day in which historical buildings and sites are open for free tours. A. joined me for a stroll around Kaiserslautern and we visited the former Friedenskapelle, or the site of a small city cemetery that will be renovated as a center for community events. We also visited the Pfalzgrafensaal, which had been part of a castle located downtown, and were given a quick tour of the tunnels under the building.

We wrapped up our wanderings with a dinner of nachos at my place. I told A that people probably think that this is how Americans always eat. For the record, we don't ;)

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