Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day of the Placement Exam

I should probably clarify that I am actually writing this blog on the day it occurred, so, what? Today is September 1st? Yes, so this is a blog about today. I know I'm going to confuse the shit out of all of you.

Today I had to get up early, and I mean early (6:30 a.m.) so that I could walk to campus and take my placement exam for the Studienkolleg. For those who are not entirely sure what that is, the Universitaat de Saarlandes has a program for international students that is, in a sense, a language intensive program. Basically I will be subjected to four hours of German a day, four days a week. Intense German. Like, 'speak English and we'll beat your knees with bats' sort of intense. But because everyone has varying degrees of proficiency in German, they have to test all the students to determine the appropriate level of German. Anyone who knows me and my knowledge of the German language knows exactly where this is going.

I had intended to get up early and review all of my notes from my German 102 class the morning of. I already knew I was going to 'suck balls' with this test, but I didn't want to suck too many balls. Well, I hit the snooze alarm probably 19 times before I finally rolled out of bed. I figured my shower would only take 2 minutes since I have a limited supply of hot water.

Oh yeah, I forgot that story--yesterday I go to take a shower and literally, I have two minutes of hot water before my shower gets so cold I figure it would be a better bet to go out in the freezing weather naked and shower in the rain. I probably could have made some money off of that. I figured it was probably because they had not turned the hot water back on since the last girl had moved out. Oh no. I have, literally, five minutes of hot water, and by hot water I mean kind of luke-warm. The boy down the hall told me that if I only turn the pressure on half-way, I can prolong said shower for almost seven minutes. Germany, you're not giving me too many reasons to like you right now.

I digress. Anyway, I managed to squeeze seven minutes of semi-warm water out of this shower, which is five minutes longer than I was anticipating, so now I'm really behind. I figure, well shit, I'll just take the bus since my month long pass started today. I race out the door with my bag and an apple and rush to the bus stop, which is supposed to arrive at 7:57.

Now if there is one more thing you should know about the German people it is that they are never, never late. And this holds true for any form of public transportation. Aliens could invade Germany and blow shit up and you can bet your ass that if someone has an appointment to make, they will kick alien ass to make it to that appointment on time. So imagine my surprise when 7:57 comes and goes and there is still no bus. Five minutes later, at 8:02, I start to panic and decide that I might as well walk the two miles to campus to make the test at 8:15. Yeah, right. I walk fast--I don't walk that fast. Of course, as soon as I get about five minutes up the hill, the fucking bus drives past me. Oh, and they WILL NOT stop if you are not at a designated spot. Nor will they wait for you should you come running up behind it in an effort to catch it.

I make it on campus BARELY after 8:20, but luckily, there are a TON of people waiting to take this test, and they haven't done any sort of attendance. We all then get herded into another room, where we have to stagnate ourselves to take this test. Right, because I'm going to cheat to get in a higher class? I am not what you call...motivated to stress myself into success this year. Language is an art, it is supposed to be free-flowing and natural. (Of course, if you've ever truly heard German spoken, you may argue that it is not in fact an is a bark. A command. I tool for intimidation).

The first part of the exam required us to read a text then answer questions pertaining to said text. Easy enough. BAHAHAHA! Yeah, no. Did I have ANY clue what ANY of that text said? Hells no. I caught a few words and phrases here and there, but that text could have been about a one-legged, toothless prostitute named Aunt Emma and I wouldn't have had the first idea. Per the instructions given by the proctor at the beginning of the exam, I got up, walked down the stairs, and gave him my blank test. He grinned and said "giving up"? I replied, in perfect English, "no, Sir. Giving up would require an attempt on my part." He did not see the humor in that statement. My wit does not seem to be translating well in this country.

So yes, yours truly is in the BOTTOM level of this language intensive course. Like I said, I could have saved them the trouble and just told them that's where I belonged. *sigh* It might be a long year. I might need to come back to Boise for Christmas.

All of this happened before 10 a.m. So what did I do with the rest of my day? I wandered around. Because that is all I can do in this place. I walk. Everywhere. There is public transportation, but I fear that the weather is going to turn very soon, and I want to utilize my legs while the sun is shining, fucked up knee and all. I also was supposed to go to the city hall and register myself as a citizen of Saarbruecken. Unfortunately, I could not find it, nor did I even know how to ask in German where it might be, so I eventually gave up and walked home. But not before stopping at the grocery store and picking up some food. I'd been starving. Problem being I can't read any of the fucking labels, so I just grabbed fruit and vegetables. No labels required.

I've been sitting in my dorm room working on photos and reading (Eat Pray Love) for the past few hours now. I was supposed to go to dinner with the other student from BSU here but alas, I was stood up. I think that might be a new record: stood up in a new country in less than a week. I am a winner. I've become quite used to eating on my own, though, which up to this point in my life has really bothered me. If there is one thing the past two weeks of traveling alone has taught me it's that I don't need to worry about being alone. I actually quite enjoy my own company. I'm able to observe more things, waiters are exponentially nicer and bring me free drinks, and inadvertently, if I want to start a conversation with someone, I can get myself invited to their table (this happened a few times whilst on my journey).

On an unrelated note, I must share this story. I went in search of the laundry facilities about 30 minutes ago and heard/saw two Asian girls screaming like they were being attacked (this is outside my dorm building). I rush over to see what is going on because far be it for me to leave a damsel in distress (after all, I've been told I'm built like a brick-shit house, another reason I was not worried about traveling alone) and I see these two girls throwing their shit up in the air and screaming and making a huge fuss because a cat, a fucking CAT was following them around. And not like a rabid, angry cat, but a nice little black kitty, meowing and purring and just wanting attention. These girls were about to lose their shit. I mean seriously, you would have thought a tiger was trying to attack them. I walk over and pick the kitty up, and they run away yelling "danke! Danke! Danke!" I look at the cat and start laughing so hard I almost pee my pants. And just a few minutes ago, through my open window, I could hear them scream again.

Occasionally, things in Germany make me smile.

1 comment:

  1. Europe and being alone, I couldn't have said it better myself. Especially in France when they aren't openly nice until you prove yourself. I remember when I first moved there I went from walking/eating/studying etc with friends at U of I to ... nobody. It's hard, but you certainly learn a lot about yourself. ;)