Today I want to write something from my own experience, which may be useful to those who learn German. I came to Germany exactly one year ago. After several years of learning German in school, to be honest, I couldn’t say much more than “Ich heiße…”. I didn’t attend any courses abroad. It’s obvious, that it costs not only money, but also a lot of time, and each of us has a hundred more reasons why not to go to a German language course. The paradox is that, if you want, you’re capable to learn everything, no matter if you’re young or old, working 4 or 8 hours a day, but under certain conditions.
When you are looking for an apartment – try to live with the Germans and don’t try to talk to them in English. Listen and learn, repeat and try. When the washing machine breaks down, when you forgot to wash the dishes, when you just want to offer someone a cup of tea on Saturday afternoon… Do exactly the same wherever you are, no matter if you’re opening a bank account, buying a public transport ticket or simply buying food in the supermarket. And what about those who have never had contact with the German language? I would recommend buying a phrasebook, the smaller the better, because it contains the most popular and useful phrases.
Make friends! Of course German friends. They are not that terrible, as they are considered to be! They are very sociable and of course they love chatting in their native language. They will be happy when you try to talk to them in German. They will improve your language and won’t be offended, even if you make a lot of mistakes. This way you will be familiarised also with their culture and the sense of humour. Believe me, people learn faster through laughter and fun!
Keep your eyes and ears open! Always and everywhere. Read writings on the shop windows, advertisements in the newspapers, and when you’re bored, while standing at the bus stop, read names of the stations… do you know how to say, what hour your bus arrives? Take off the headphones and listen to people. Even if you think, that it makes no sense, because you don’t understand, it’s simply not true! Our brain captures everything: images, sounds, situations… One day you will read the word translation in the dictionary and you will think, “I know that!”. The word connected with the context is much easier to remember!
If you think, that you came here just for a moment, you get it wrong. And even if it’s true, then why would you deprive yourself of one of the best things – the social life? The language of the particular country opens up not only better job possibilities, but it gives an indescribable satisfaction, that in every place on earth, you can feel welcome.
I made a lot of mistakes myself. I couldn’t find an apartment, so I lived with the Poles. At home, everything was Polish – furniture, food, newspapers, television… At the beginning – I liked that, but working mainly in English and coming back after eight hours to my small Poland, I had no opportunity to speak German, anywhere. I’ve never felt more alienated. But these several points, which I shared with you, saved me from the depression. Now I finally feel at home.