Two months and 12 days. I already feel like my year here is soon to end but I in fact have approximately 9 almost 10 months of sticking around. But, even so, the end this term, when it comes to an end…I suspect to have had the best of years in my life, thought changing, trying new things, exploring and getting to know myself myself and of course, speaking the German language more fluently.
The past few weeks after my one week autumn holiday in Aachen and Köln where both great and a bit long sometimes, particularly at my workplace. But, initially, every minute spent there has been nothing but fantastic and worth it. While I am also attempting to speak German, breaking this language but still understood by its native speakers and kids. I am learning so much.
One of my greatest moments here in the days I have spent so far is realising that I am starting to have an ear for the German language. I am finally comprehending it. This hearing ability is helping me pick up how people speak, how they construct sentences and use the grammar, which I think is the most challenging thing about the German language. I am not using the word “difficult” because, although it may be, it is not impossible to learn and adapt to it. At the pace I am on, I think I am doing just fine. Although, a sense of impatience is getting to me because all I want to do is to speak good German and unrealistically now. I am so longing to know how to speak this language very well immediately because some how, somewhat, there is so much beauty in having the ability to engage through it. I trust I am well on my way.
So much I have learnt and picked up through listening has been from from the kids, colleagues and the family I live with. I find the children far sympathetic. And of course, teachers with patience and often a simplified speech and frank ways to tell you when you are wrong and to correct you. It has never felt any less than a safe space to make mistakes.
It is endless. I am amazed about how my German has improved. Conversations with children turn to be endless, we talk about animals, about food, about making noise, going to the toilet, using the bus, mothers, fathers, playing and all that is in between. And of course coming back to where I live, the conversations continue but more often on other interesting things like music, what we are eating later, how each others days were. To a larger some of our conversations have been far important. Including things like getting me a German sim card, travelling alone, shopping, and all the necessary things to get me going to be familiar with my surroundings.
I found pleasure in learning. But, I think one can only embrace this if and only if the space of learning is initiated with no pressure. I am finding my feet. I hope that I absorb much very quickly.
My second highlight in the past months is how my birthday was spent. It is so much linked to the culture of how birthdays are celebrated and the language as songs were sang in German and not in English. It was great. My birthday was on the 3rd of November and this day kicked started earlier as I usually join my host family on breakfast.
The breakfast was a little difficult, with a home baked chocolate cake, baked by my host mother and, some cherry cup cakes baked by her also lovely sister which I later took to the kindergarten to share with my colleagues and kids. There were also about 7 or 8 presents. I really appreciated the moment. Maybe this celebration was meant to teach me to start celebrating my life far more than I never found it relevant to do. It felt like my life was important. Which I never saw in this way. My family in South Africa has always and I mean for every birthday bought cakes and would sing very early in the morning. This to me was all I needed. Some hugs and blessings. Fortunately, they still sang for me early in the morning via a Skype call. Later in the morning, I had celebration at work with kids and colleagues. There also, I got some gifts. The parents of children with which I am part of their group called the Rosengruppe, literally meaning the group of flowers also surprised me with gifts. Although I do not celebrate my birthdays, I have learnt to embrace every moment given to be on earth. After all, we live once.
With that said, I have been effortlessly doing my best to enjoy myself through engaging and trying to internalise the German language. This past weekend, I attended two markets.The first one was a joined initiative of Waldofpädagogik Havelhöhe, which incorporates a kindergarten, school (both primary and secondary levels). This is were I volunteer. The was a market called Licht Markt (Light market) and was brought together by the kindergarten and the school as a way to fund-raise. I enjoyed being a part of it and more importantly seeing parents, educators and learners coming together with different ideas of selling things in order to make a direct contributions to the institution. This market sold a lot of things such as food, clothes for children, decoration for Christmas, toys and a bit of self made things, creating more entertainment. I got a chance to participate in some of the activities and to also had a shift to sell at the kindergarten´s stall/booth where I was working with my colleagues.
On the following day, Sunday the 20th of November, we went to another market in Messa, Berlin. There was stalls of different products sold from different countries. Africa, as a continent was there and, South Africa was among the African countries.
I felt the need to support South African although I supported another country buying bracelets. I ended up in interesting conversations with the ladies I met from South Africa. It was a breather to even speak iSizulu there, back to back accommodating each other speaking Sesotho too. I had to grace the moment.
Not only have I being engaging in these ways, going out in this cold autumn, I have also sort to have really warm indoor moments with my host family, be in comfortable clothes, taking some naps and doing some studying relating to my other interest, journalism.