So today was my first day at German school. That is, of course, me learning German. I went with starting from scratch. I may have mentioned that I have a Higher in German somewhere before on this blog, but as you might have gathered from other posts I am not that great at it. I can understand written German, follow most of what is being said in conversations, can spell in German (though where this talent comes from I have no idea), but to actually speak German, I am garbled at best. Often I just speak strange lists of words, sometimes the right ones, probably never really in the right order.
So back to basics. Already day one, I am wondering if I made a real error. ONE WHOLE HOUR on 'My name is...', 'I am called...'. Then numbers, then all the 'I am 13 years old' stuff, and to round off 'I come from Scotland'. Except everybody in the class more or less comes from Spain and speaks no English. I am thoroughly disappointed. I wanted to make lots of friends in the class, but unless I fast track my way through all the Dora the Explorer back catalogue, I am going to struggle. I don't know that counting their fingers, singing Merry Christmas in Spanish at them, shouting 'stop!' and 'let's go!' are enough to even base a Facebook friendship on, never mind sustain me through a coffee break.
And so, the only English speakers in the class are a 57 year old man from Paris who seems nice enough, and has a pleasingly very French name; a smug Korean guy who arrived only 3 days ago and here to study bio-chemistry; and an Israeli guy who copies my answers and hasn't got much to say. I am a little disappointed. I had dreams of busloads of Americans, Brits, and Canadians all round about my age and here as the accompanying spouse of someone 'from the Embassy'. There's a bit of me that wants to stay up all night, work my way through the beginners course book so that I can get into the next class up tomorrow. Sadly though, there's another bit of me that just can't be bothered and would rather sit here and read other people's blogs.
You always think 'Ah, if I went back to school and re-did all my subjects I would totally apply myself and come out with straight A's and about 6 more qualifications than I did'. The thing is, I think, that sometimes you might be a grown up version of yourself, but when faced with a rather dull German class you're still the kind of person who thinks 'I'd much rather be in Art right now'.
Anyway, meanwhile, back in the real world, I went and picked Orla and Hamish up from Kita and found Orla wearing the jeans again that I'd just washed and handed back to the Kita from last week when nobody understood Orla saying she needed the toilet. I was gutted thinking we were heading into a 'pee-your-pants-cause-you-hate-nursery-phase' until I couldn't find her wet leggings and knickers anywhere in the building. And then, it clicked. Last week nursery left a woolly hat in Hamish's locker as if to say 'Get your act together. This boy must be freezing!' and I knew the next step would be someone actually coming and telling me that it was 3 minutes past summertime and he should be wearing tights under his trousers. So, I had a wee peek under the jeans and sure enough, Orla was still wearing her own clothes underneath.
I can't quite get to grips with the German obsession with the cold. There have been some ovely days recently where it's been in the 20's (degrees C) and it's been quite possible to go out wearing a light top. But you will still find everyone wearing coats and see children with woolly tights and fleeces and hats and gloves. My friend who has lived here now for a couple of years and had a baby over here has fully embraced the German way of life in this regard. She says that she worries that she has not got her daughter wrapped up enough as strangers will stop you in the street and tell you that your child hasn't got enough on. Can you believe that?
Well, they can try with my pair, but it'll be another 4 weeks before I'll be able to understand them.