I started taking German 4 years ago when I began 10th grade. At that point there were really only two reasons why I chose German instead of the oh so popular Spanish. I wanted to be different (not like every other person who took Spanish) and my family has a lot of German heritage so I thought it would be a good idea.
I did not think one subject would end up having such an impact on me.
I do not really remember my first year of German. I did well, but there wasn't much there. All of this changed my Junior year. Our teacher had retired and not that she was a bad teacher, she was just burnt out as many teachers get. Anyway I get to class the first day of my Junior year and I meet Frau K., at first I thought she was a student- she is just this little, young, energetic person who loves all things German. She made that year for me, and pretty much the rest of my High School career.
She was so excited to teach us the German language and the culture of Germany that it was easy to learn because you wanted to. I was still quiet, as I always was in my first period class (what High School student is really awake at 8am, not me!). Toward the end of the year Frau K. asked who would be interested in filling a students spot for the 3 week exchange to Germany in the summer (German students had already come in the fall and american students were to attend a German school in the city of Tuttlingen in the summer). I raised my hand, not thinking anything of it, and knowing that I couldn't afford it. She gave us information and told us to talk it over with our parents- but I didn't do anything about it.
Little did I know Frau K. called my mother and expressed to her how unique a High School exchange experience is. I don't think I had much say in the matter but a few months later thanks so my amazing mother and her willingness to sacrifice I found myself on a plane to Germany!
I was 17 and so excited. I had only taken 2 years of High School German, nothing real intensive but I did know a few key phrases like "Ich haette gern blah blah blah" (I would like to have....) and thanks to our great German hosts I learned the phrase "Hasch 'n Problem?" which is slang for "Hast du ein Problem" or auf Englisch "got a problem?" or something of that meaning, haha.
I lived with a host family for the duration of our trip and there were definitely differences among us. There were some awkward situations where I didn't really know how to express myself. Lucky they knew english- but not too well. But heck, I can't complain- not like I was an expert at their language. I had to explain that I didn't want to wear a bikini or drink alcohol and I felt a little disrespectful but at the same time they needed to know where I stood and I hope they respected me for that. They were a great family and had an amazing house. They lived in a little village a train ride away from the school we attended. The village sat on the Danube river or in German Donau. Beautiful. Down the street from them lived their grandparents, uncle's family, and their aunt's family. They were very family oriented as are many German people and it was great to be involved in family celebrations like their Oma's (grandmothers) birthday party. :)
To shorten up my trip a little: I went to switzerland and france, the blackforest (schwarzwald), saw castles and waterfalls, went to a public viewing of the world cup (that was AWESOME!).
I loved it and I wish I could go back today.
In the short time that I was there I fell in love with the country of Germany and the people and culture and just the way of life. Europe is so different from the United States in goods ways and bad, of course. A few things I loved were: their markets, festivities, public transportation, and the desire to progress their country.
I continued on to my senior year by taking German 103 UW course. It was difficult but very rewarding. I enjoyed that class more than most, maybe even more than I should have haha.
You could define Germany by events of the past but that is ignorant and disrespectful to the country who has given this world Philosophers like Goethe, Musicians like Bach, and Trailblazers like Albert Einstein.
I love Germany.
And through my increasing love for this country and language I have also developed the desire to learn of other cultures and experience them as fully as I can in this life.