German Culture: Learning the language

Since day one, I have been determined to learn the German language. Have I succeeded? In my eyes, yes. When I arrived in Germany 3 months ago (wow) I was overwhelmed. I remember how excited I was to head to Germany and while I was certainly nervous, it wasn’t until I arrived that it hit me. I was in a foreign country and didn’t speak the language. I had assumed I could get by with my English but in reality, it was not as easy as I initially thought. The signs were in German and surprise, the people in the airport spoke mostly German. But the killing blow was transit. Getting from Frankfurt to Mosbach. In truth, had I not had the help of my fellow students, I most likely would’ve found a nice quiet corner to curl up in and simply starve. But now I can say “ich habe Hunger und ich möchte wasser, bitte”. Which means, “I am hungry and I would like water, please”. So now it is nearly impossible for me to die in Germany. Finding a German girlfriend? Much harder. But in that case, I can always say “zu dir oder zu mir”. I’m not going to explain what that means and to my German friends, yes, I know a lot more than you think. Anyways… So on that day I had a choice, I could either give into my fears or I could face them. So instead of being helpless, I helped myself. I said, “I will understand German”. And I did, as simple as that. Duolingo, memrise, and rosetta stone. But you know what the best teacher was? Making German friends. I would like to personally thank my buddy Tim, who invited me to the underground German poker ring, where the Germans said the table language was English but ended up speaking German anyways. So what did I do? Did I say “Englisch, Bitte”? Nein. I listened. And slowly but surely what was once noise started to become words and words became very broken sentences. And now I am proud to say that can almost speak as well as a German toddler. So here’s my guide for learning German when (not if) you go overseas.

Duolingo

If you have not taken a German course before, duolingo is your best friend. It’s free and it will give you the vocab you need to succeed. Beforehand, I recommend learning the German alphabet via youtube, find what works for you. In addition, memrise should be used as a supplement to your daily duolingo training. If you have rosetta stone great, but I haven’t found it necessary to learning the language. Once you start using these basic tools, you’re ready to move on to…

Make German Friends

To be clear, this is not a guide on how to make friends, but if you’re struggling on that subject, read Making Friends (shameless plug). Any-who, this is pretty self-explanatory. You have class, sit next to the Germans. Say, “Hallo, ich heiβe          und ich möchte sprechen Deutsch mit dir”. If they give you a confused look, that means I’m still learning and I just made you look like an idiot. But the idea is, make sure the Germans know you want to speak and learn German, otherwise they’ll simply assume you want to speak English. Then, once you have friends…

Listen!!!

German, for lack of a better word, is a very strong language. If Germans scare you, I can understand completely. When I first arrived, it sounded like Germans were hissing at me. But overtime, I’ve gotten used to the language and I can now say that Germans aren’t angry, they’re just different. We have two ears and one mouth, and I think a lot of people would be done a lot of good if they used their ears more and their mouth less. Listening helps you pick up on the little nuances of the language and will help you pronounce the words better, so it’s very important!

So that’s it! As a bonus, you can listen to German bands (with lyrics) and watch German TV (with subtitles), while not necessary, it definitely will help (and it’s fun). So the moral of this story? Learn the language! I highly recommend doing it before you head over (unlike me, whoops). It’ll make for a more meaningful experience, trust me! So get excited and make sure you go study abroad, it’ll be the best experience of your life. Any questions? Feel free to comment.

 

 

Germany Week 2 (and 3… and 4…): Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Germany is pretty cool and I’ve left the house a few times!

The question everyone is asking, “does Mike Cole speak German?” What’s the answer. Well, that’s the debate. I say “Jaaa” but many say “Nein, Nein, Nein!”. I however, am not deterred and have strengthened my resolve to practice pronunciation every minute of the day.

In other news, I left coffee in the coffee maker back home. It’s only been a month, so I’m sure it’s fine. An evil nail also ripped my pants, but I hear ripped pants are all the rage. And I lost my health insurance card, so if I don’t post for a while it either means I’m super busy or got struck by illness and am dead.

Adventures

 Switzerland

My big adventure for week 2 was going to Switzerland, which was absolutely gorgeous! Rhein (Rhine) Falls was absolutely amazing. The Falls are 250 ft wide and 75 ft high (as illustrated beautifully by the photo below). After standing in awe for a good while, we then headed over to Lucerne, where we spent a few hours exploring the city.

20160917_070121

Lucerne was absolutely amazing. The city had a giant monument of a dying Lion carved into a rock. Of course, words and photos can only say so much, but they say enough, so here’s a picture!

20160917_100127

Then of course there was the old town… Which had murals painted on the buildings.

20160917_103911

Other than that, it was just plain beautiful. Walking around, seeing the history of the city, it really is something that has to be experience. There’s a lot of character in European cities. Then we spent 10 hours in Zurich which was more or less the same (not a bad thing). My only regret is that I am but a broke college student, so I couldn’t buy a Swiss watch.

France

This last weekend I was in France, which was absolutely amazing. I drank French wine (both red and white), ate a crepe, ate a baguette (I almost started crying it was so delicious) and had some fancy French Chicken (forget what it’s called).

And of course, the most amazing part of the trip…

20160924_142826
Notre Dame

Disclaimer: I am attending class in case any of you were concerned. First two weeks I had a crash course in the German language, last week I had a Intercultural experience course, and this  week I’ve had business law and leadership.

That’s it, that’s my week(s)! Thanks for reading and stay classy friends!

Germany Week 1: I’m not dead!

I arrived and am alive!

So the first question you may be asking yourself, “Did Mike make it”? The answer is yes. The next question you might find yourself asking “what have I been doing the past week”? Well, let me tell you.

Classes started the 5th and I arrived at 6:10am on the 2nd to Frankfurt airport. Feeling overwhelmed at the airport, I quickly found the nearest Starbucks,which I suppose is better than going to McDonalds. After I had time to collect myself, the rest of the OSU squad arrived and we took a taxi to downtown Frankfurt (don’t, it cost 74 Euros!).  Frankfurt is basically the Wall Street of Europe, so there were plenty of skyscrapers and people in suits. When we arrived, we checked in at the youth hostel, had lunch, and then napped for a few hours (super exciting!). After our lovely nap, we decided to explore Frankfurt. Besides there being a lot of brothels (we didn’t go in, I swear!), there were…

Churches!!!

20160902_170209

I took a lot of photos but the one above is my favorite and is simply here to illustrate the fact that we explored around 3 to 4 churches, all of which were very beautiful. Just to give you an idea of scale: 20160902_170516

After the churches, we found…

20160902_171215

A bridge with love locks! A lot of love locks! That’s about it. It was cool, but nothin’ special.

And Then…

20160902_175416

The creepiest statue ever. And then…

20160902_181633

The chillest statue ever… But of course, I wouldn’t be a good business major if I didn’t take a photo of…

20160902_180459

The Bear and Bull of Frankfurt! So yes, it’s confirmed! Frankfurt is indeed the Wall Street of Europe if there ever was any doubt.

What else did I do? Ah yes, after Frankfurt I arrived safely in Mosbach via train. The housing is amazing and i’ll have more photos on the way… But for now, just to give you an idea of how awesome this experience has been thus far, here’s the bed i’ll be sleeping in for the next four months.

20160909_082958

Yes, it does have zebras! That’s all for now, cheers and stay classy friends!

Two steps forward, one step back

So here’s an idea. Everyone knows the old saying, “one step forward, two steps back”, right? Well, I say let’s challenge that. Life comes down to perspective. Let’s break down the saying itself. Who in their right mind has ever taken one step forward and two steps back? No one. Isn’t it more likely for a person to take two steps forward and one step back (maybe to turn in a new direction). That makes sense. Why would you ever believe a saying that doesn’t even make literal sense? It’s a logical fallacy.

Moving Forward:

The first step – As it goes, the first step is getting started. If we want to get anywhere, we must take the initial step. This step is the foundation. The first step allows us to take the second step. If we only take the first step, we get nowhere.

The second step – In a perfect world, I’d say that the first step is just as important as the second step. That it comes down to perspective and that it really depends based on the situation. It doesn’t. The second step will always be more important than the first step. That said, without the first step the second step would never exist. The second step is what pushes us further. It is putting the decision in motion and giving us a taste of what to expect.

One step back – This is the turning point, the point where you choose whether or not to take the third, forth, five, etc. step. Think of it as a pivot, it’s not really a step back but rather a rotation, a change in priority, even a change in purpose.

So there you have it, a fun little musing of a common saying. I plan to do more of these “common sayings perspective shifts” but until then go take a few steps into the unknown. Learn from your mistakes  and you’ll always be moving forward. Thanks for reading!