Friday, February 17, 2017

My week: February 12 ed.

Hoo-ee, have I been gone for a long time, thanks to my normal winter schedule of taking two German classes a week. Combined with meeting with my tandem partner, that means I'm practicing German four nights a week, and often traveling for funsies on the weekend.

This week, the university German B2 class ended. Even though I enjoy the class, I am glad to be over with it because I was really running out of steam and need at least one free weeknight (besides Fridays) after keeping up this schedule for four months. I'm tired, folks, especially after the night this week that the class at the Volkshochschule started up and I had to run from the uni class directly to the VHS one afterward.

We took the final exam for the uni B2 class on Friday night; I thought that overall, I performed reasonably well on it. However, the listening portion took me by surprise. In previous tests, we were given a minute or two to read the questions first. Since there were about 15 questions and they used an advanced level of German, I was looking forward to reading them first and underlining some keywords.

That didn't happen; our teacher immediately hit the play button and I scrambled around, madly trying to listen to the selection and read the questions as I went. I missed the first few questions because I was so discombobulated. At least there was a second go 'round of listening but I still lost a lot of it.

The selection featured an expert talking about manners and mentioned something called "Knigge." I've never heard of that term before and didn't latch onto any context clues so I had to go with the assumption that it meant some sort of behavior. In a moment of grasping at straws, I wondered if it was like the Danish word "Hygge," which is basically like Gemütlichkeit.

I let wondering about it go because I had to move on with the test. However, later, I was on Facebook and saw a German article about old books that still have value and there was one from Knigge! Apparently he was a writer, Freemason, and Illuminati member [insert dramatic music here, for sure] and is particularly well-known for his Über den Umgang mit Menschen, which describes human behavior. His accomplishments have morphed his memory into being more like Miss Manners. I'm glad to have found this out because I don't like leaving any stones unturned, so to speak ;)

-During the weekend, I attended one of my favorite annual events, the Grünkohlessenabend hosted by the women's club. During the event, we eat kale (any of its health benefits are drowned out by the sheer amount of salt and fat added to it), sausages, and potatoes in order to celebrate northern German traditions (even though we're in SW Germany).

Along the way, we've created our own traditions around attending this event. As is customary, I invited my friend W, who has been my "date" for all of the last three years, including the infamous first year where we wore Dirndls and were lightly schimpfed for the transgression. There, we learned that setting the table on fire is a tradition, drinking alcohol out of a giant wooden shoe and spoons is practiced, and that one will burn her mouth if she doesn't wait for the shot glass to fully cool. The second time we attended, I was the one to set the table on fire. It was definitely very exciting.

The third year we finally had our act together and knew how things worked. W attended and we also invited my friend A. I had written to the organizer because A doesn't eat pork and I checked to see if anything being served that evening didn't have pork (we found out that everything, except for the alcohol, had pork in it. Whoa!). Imagine my surprise when I found out that she could just order from the restaurant's regular menu! W is vegetarian and during the previous two years she had only eaten the potatoes. We had a good laugh that we finally found out that she could've just ordered something vegetarian the previous years.

I told A to expect the table being set on fire and possibly someone burning her mouth on the flaming shot glass of liquor (I was reminded that I was the one who had done that before). Much to my surprise, no one inadvertently set the table on fire and I was very careful to make sure the shot glass had cooled before I drank the contents. A doesn't drink but when we toasted by drinking schnapps out of our special, big schnapps-holding spoons, she took a shot of gravy from her meal. What a team player she is.

There was a wonderful new addition this year: SEA SHANTIES, accompanied with ACCORDION MUSIC. It was very exciting and even better yet, I think that some of them had dirty lyrics. It was hard to translate them and sing at the same time, but one song was talking about ladies, the Reeperbahn, and St. Pauli in Hamburg, which was a notorious area for sailors and the ladies they visited.

Afterward, W stayed over since she's from out of town. We enjoyed breakfast together and then she went on her way home. I ended up napping the whole afternoon, which I needed sorely after being so worn out from exam week and partying down with the women's club. It was a good end to the semester.

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