Going to Schleswig-Holstein is not on the top of everyone’s bucket lists, but it definitely was for me! Five years ago, my mom and I opened our home to a German exchange student named Marie. We were excited for a unique experience, but I didn’t know how much she’d truly become part of the family!
Now I’m in Germany (finally) so I got to see her village and visit her family!
Marie’s sister Jule is getting ready to spend her year in America! She leaves in less than two weeks. We are so excited for her! A lot of the family was over to say goodbye to her. This was really exciting because I got to meet a lot of the family.
Sometimes people say that everyone in Germany speaks English, but this is just not true. On a university campus it is pretty true, but it’s definitely not true everywhere. This was really good though because it forced me to at least try to speak German.
It was surprising how different people speak up north than they do where I am studying. This is true in standard German, but even more true when people speak a local dialect called Plattdeutsch. It is arguable whether or not this is really a dialect or actually an entirely different language. I tend to lean towards the latter.
Being a native English speaker does make understanding Plattdeutsch a bit easier because many of the words sound closer to English than they do to Standard German!
Regardless of whether or not they were actually speaking a language I’d studied or not, I often found myself being asked a question and having honestly no idea what to say and just staring blankly. As someone who does not always know what to say when I’m speaking English, participating in conversation in another language is pretty difficult.
As Jule prepares for studying in America and I am already studying in Germany, you would think that we could easily communicate in each others languages, but you would be wrong. When the three of us were together we rarely spoke one language consistently.
Marie, the most proficient of all of us, would speak in the language of whoever she was looking at, Jule would speak German, and I would speak English. I’m proud to say that we didn’t have any trouble understanding each other, but we do need to work harder to step out of our comfort zones.
I hope that after our time in each other’s homeland, we will find more comfort in each other’s native tongues. Maybe next time we see each other I will speak in German as she responds in English. Only time will tell, but we are improving every day!
When they told me that we would be going cable skiing, I was pretty scared. I have only been snow skiing a couple times and was never very good. I knew I’d already looked a bit dumb struggling with my German and now they would see me fall over and over and over.
We drove a few towns over to get to the water ski park. All of the signs and instructions were of course in German. Sometimes understanding every other word in a foreign language is enough to get by, but when being given safety instructions, it might help to understand a bit more.
Imagine hearing this, “Okay so something hold your arms something something and sit something but don’t something something and you’ll be fine. Do you need me to something or without?”
Marie translated most of the somethings so I was considerably less scared. Then she told the guy working there that I wasn’t very good at German, so he tried to say things in English, but that was pretty much just “ready?” and “let’s go!”
After 12 times of immediately flying out of my skis and into the water, I stood up a bit without falling. I got so excited that I ended up falling anyway!
I finally figured out how to not fall off, but never how to stand up. Maybe next time!
A Note about the Title
Before traveling, I have been researching typical greetings for each place so I can go ahead and begin working on my blog posts. I try to keep my ears open when I get there to make sure people are actually saying it before I post inaccurate information for y’all!
Well, as soon as I got out of the car for the first time in Schleswig-Holstein, the first thing someone said to me was, “Moin! … Kennst du das Wort?” which is the greeting followed by “Do you know that word?”
I was so surprised to hear it right off the bat, but I was pretty proud of my research skills. 🙂
See you in a few weeks Schleswig-Holstein,