German Rank

By the time I arrived in Germany for my summer of German language courses as a precursor to my Fall/Winter study abroad semester, I had done the whole foreign language study and foreign language immersion thing a couple of times already – I knew what I was getting into and how I wanted to go about it.

True fluency was my goal, and I knew how to manage that.

The day I arrived, however, my German was absurdly limited and rather laughable…. I could hardly ask questions, let alone understand the answers (more on that some other time).

And so, by the time I was visiting with the others in my program’s group (they had also arrived that day), and had met the head of my program, everyone had been socially established in terms of their levels of German ability.

One girl was ‘the head’ of the group, so to speak, another was ‘the absolute beginner’, and the other few were sprinkled in between them… I openly declared my poor abilities that had been used throughout the day, only somewhat successfully, and expressed concern of not placing high enough to receive credit for the German courses back at my college (you had to be at least in the second level for the courses to count, and I was worried that I might be ending up in the beginner, first level, based in the day’s events).

In other words, I was ranked ever so slightly above the absolute beginner girl, and just barely below the girl who’d studied for a few semesters already (two years, I think, actually).

However, I wasted no time in immersing myself with the German-speaking head of our program, and got help from her immediately for the things I knew I would need and want to say starting the next day, when I would be interacting with all the people at the school and taking a placement test and starting classes… again, I had done the foreign language thing before, and I was knowledgeable about how to function on minimal vocabulary and grammar – I could make anything work, so long as I had a certain set of vocabulary ahead of time.

And so, to my delight the next morning, what I had prepared myself to be able to share with others about my absurd travels getting to that small town in Germany, ended up being the essay question on the placement test!

Therefore, to my pleasure and total surprise, I was placed in none of the beginner level courses, but in the first of two intermediate courses!

Since I had arrived late the day before (again with the telling another time), I had missed the regular times for the placement tests, and everyone who had taken them then was already in the first day of classes while I took my own placement test (along with a few other people who weren’t in my program, but who were also studying at the language school that month).

Therefore, when I walked into my intermediate level class – this was after multiple verifications that they were sure they were putting me into the correct class – and I found ‘the head’ of our group sitting at one of the tables, there was a brief moment of shock for the both of us, as I blew apart the ranking of our whole group by jumping rank so obscenely (I use obscene, because it rather was obscene, in a sense).

She was not happy, to say the least.

Two weeks later, when I already matched and, in some areas, had surpassed her German capabilities, I had voluntarily removed myself from the ranking altogether.

Rather than be a part of the group so much, I had become ‘the outside associated’, someone who isn’t truly a part of the group, but who comes to visit and gets along well with everyone whenever she does.

I never spoke English after that first day, not once… and that was enough to set me away from the group hierarchy.

(Okay, I did speak English once… this British guy seemed like he was about to cry one day, while begging me to speak English, because he so desperately wanted to hear how I sounded in English, since he had known me for weeks but had heard none…, but that was genuinely the only time I did it while there.)*

And it was wonderful.

In the second month, we had a similar situation happen with the new group arriving and joining our ranks… everyone was re-ranked, with me still as an outside associate for the first round of people, but ranked in a real place by the new folks (just above ‘the head’ from the first month)…

For that month, I was ranked below a new ‘head’… however, a month or so later, when we had all moved to Vienna, Austria, I was fully removed from the ranking system by all the new people, too… I had real friends who were native German-speakers, and certain parts of my German were better than anyone else (not all parts, though, because five years does teach one a lot, so the new ‘head’ definitely had some knowledge on German that I never really intended to have)… and I still used no English.

However, I eventually started throwing in the occasional bit of English just so they wouldn’t hate me so much – speaking only German had kind of pushed me way off the ranks… almost no association at all anymore…, but I got rather pushed back out by some when they discovered my many friendships with non-foreigners….

So, yeah… essentially, I ended up a distanced associate, and that actually was really great for me… I was there to learn German and learn German-speaking culture, not American anything (which was mostly all that my group had to offer), so I did just that: I learned German and German-speaking culture by being a part of it.

And it was awesome.

And I still found the hierarchy of our group to be hilarious, especially when I blew a hole in parts of it again and again. πŸ˜›

That was rather fun, actually.

I wonder how I would have felt had I been a regular member of the hierarchy, and not the super-gifted member that I was… hmm…

Post-a-day 2019

*Something tells me that I might have used the occasional translation with the outright beginner girl for the first few weeks while she got her bearings, but we kept that rather hush-hush and between ourselves, so no one really heard or knew about my occasional English words to her.

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Duhβ€”β€”-nun!

I have found myself thoroughly enjoying my latest hard copy book, Jaws, much to my surprise (although also kind of not to my surprise – it is actually highly acclaimed by reliable sources, and it made one of my favorite films [we can get into the irony of that another time]).

I started reading it two nights before going sailing… and I strongly considered picking another book, due to the timing, but I really wanted to start reading Jaws, and I was determined that reading it would be no different from having seen the title and thought about it already…

And I was right… with both the concern and the thoughts.

It would have been very good for me not to think about sharks right before going out sailing, during which time I, at some point, would want to get into our cloudy, sand-filled water, and I would have had the idea of sharks in my mind just from having seen the book – whether I read it or not was of little consequence, because the damage was already done when I crossed it on my bookshelf.

And so, I struggled to get into the water while out sailing…, but I asked for company and we made it work… I didn’t stay in for long, but I still enjoyed being in the water for a brief bit, and it ended up starting a whole chain of people jumping in and enjoying the water, which was actually quite fun.

Anyway…, I’m liking the book a lot so far.

I love that 1) Peter Benchley has found a way to pursue and share his passion (sharks) with the world through his fiction and non-fiction books, and 2) he has a good humor in the introduction regarding the changes he made for the book to become a film.

And I am thoroughly enjoying the humor and style with which he writes (well, wrote, technically)… I’m actually laughing at terrible situations, because he addresses them so well as to bring out a sense of comic relief… and I, somehow, find it to be quite lovely, in its way.

(And I mean that… I actually laughed aloud at a scene where a body is found, it was so comically written, but incredibly tastefully so.)

I’m hardly more than a couple chapters into it (of around 15), but I highly recommended at least those first two and a half chapters. πŸ™‚

We’ll see how the rest pans out, now, shall we?

P.S. We did have a good time on the boat, at least.

Post-a-day 2019

Dressed for Work

Tonight, I attended with my mom a sake mini-course and tasting event.

As predicted, every Japanese man was in a dark suit with a white shirt… however, the slight touch of color was found in a tie or pocket square in the Americanized men.

Also as predicted, there was a fabulous array of Japanese foods, the presentation was brief but extremely informative, and the tasting was hilariously wonderful.

While there, I considered strongly at one point what everyone else was wearing.

Beforehand, I had asked my mom, a person who is usually quite particular about dressing to the appropriate level for things, if I needed to change into a different dress than what I had on… I showed her the dress, which was a much nicer and more business-y version of what I already was wearing, and she didn’t think the change was needed…. she pointed out that she was wearing something quite similar, albeit slightly nicer-looking (same color scheme, different pieces).

We had been at an art film showing earlier on, and I had worn my current outfit for that and felt totally comfortable in my choice, but I figured it was best to check with her regarding the Japanese event.

Sure enough, once there, she commented that we should have known everyone would be in business suits and the likes, since it was a Japanese event… I reminded her that that was precisely why I had asked about my outfit ahead of time, and she rather shrugged her shoulders unconcernedly at this with an Oh, well…, and we moved on to enjoy ourselves, anyway.

At this point, I thought about how everyone was probably just coming straight from work, anyway, and so they were all just in work clothes… and then I realized that I, too, was coming straight from work and that I, too, was just in work clothes…

I don’t have a corporate job in an office with a cubicle on a floor in a big building… or anything like it… I’m a writer and photographer… and, today, I was editing photos, and then sent them off to a client – much work accomplished for a single afternoon, actually… and this cotton dress and summer sandals are what I wore to do that… casual and cute, but not office business…

In “Hannah’s Life, Created”, a notebook I compiled a couple years back, while living in Japan, I have a brief description of what I want my work attire to be… tonight was a beautiful acknowledgement of my having achieved that desire, and, in that instant of noticing this, I was filled with a sense of calm confidence in regards to my life – I am doin a beautiful job of pursuing my goals and dreams and of becoming and being the person I want to be.

I’m not all the way there yet… I am there with some things, though, and I am well on my way to more and more at any moment(!!!)…. and I love it.

I really do love it.

Yes, it would have made sense to wear the nicer dress tonight… no, it didn’t ultimately matter for what tonight specifically was…, yes, it was amazing to notice what I did about being in my ‘work clothes’, and so was totally worth it this time to be a bit under-dressed…, and no, I never really quite fit in at Japanese events, anyway – Gaijin Smash to the max!**

So yeah… we had an awesome time at the event, learned loads about sake. – and yes, I am fully aware of how odd it is that I take such an interest in sake, when I drink just about no alcohol in the average month – and ate wonderful foods over wonderful conversations.

And I had a lovely discovery about my current status in life, and it tickles and overjoys me even now, hours later. πŸ™‚

Yay, life!

And thank you, God, for entrusting me with this piece of the path – I love this part, and I trust you fully, as I throw myself fully into this lovely hard work!

Peace

Hannah

**Man, do I miss my store Mister Maxx in Toride, Ibaraki!… like a cross between Target, Petsmart, and a bakery!

Post-a-day 2019

Profundity in Precipitation

I always feel so profound when it rains… Like it is time for me to start writing my book… Or to continue writing… to spill out and pour out lines worth quoting, thoughts by which to live each day, a guide to life in ten words or fewer as a page-a-day calendar – as the rain pours around me, words pour from me…

Perhaps it is a sign that I need to go somewhere like Washington to write my book, so I can be often in the rain…

Perhaps… perhaps… perhaps…

Post-a-day 2019

Some Nights

Some nights, we are calm and at ease, for we know we have accomplished our expected tasks for the day.

And some nights, we are not, because we haven’t…

Tonight is one of the latter “some nights”… The thing is, though, I’m actually really interested in all of this research I’ve been doing for this paper… I just don’t want to hassle with putting it all together in a paper… you know what I mean?

I think I do, anyway…

Well, back to the paper organizing, so I can get to the actual writing… which is due to be turned in and then presented tomorrow… oops πŸ˜›

HashtagΒ I’mANutJob, right?*

*If you haven’t seen it, check out Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s skit on hashtags… that’s what was on my mind just now with that line. πŸ˜›

Post-a-day 2019

Speedboats and slow thoughts

I might have shared about this already, but I’ll share it again, because it’s on my mind…

I was thinking tonight about this boat thing.

(Well, actually, I was thinking about Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and how I’m looking at reading it with a friend, so we can talk about it, but that this time I might do well to make a list of reasons why it’s good that I didn’t live in Pride and Prejudice times.

You see, I usually get lost happily in the story, such that I am sad when I finish it and just return to real life… it only ever takes me a couple or few days to read, because I end up doing little else once I start reading it.

And so, at the end of it all, I am covered with a sort of depressive feeling of my life being inadequate and/or uninteresting and I likely to be anything wonderful compared to the world of which I’d just been dreaming in Jane Austen’s book.

Anyway, so I was thinking about making a list of reasons, right?

I’d thought, ‘Oh, the whole bathing part makes me glad I don’t live there… that’s for sure,’ because I like being clean, and clean didn’t seem to be so precise a thing in those days, and smelly was all too common…

‘But then,’ I thought, ‘I couldn’t have ridden on speed boats or gone water skiing…, though I could have ridden on big boats between countries… like the Titanic!… only not the Titanic, because that was terrible, and, besides, it was much later in time, anyway…’

And that was then I thought of tonight’s topic renewal!)

Sophie Kinsella has a book where the main character has amnesia… when she watches her wedding and honeymoon DVD to help jog her memory, she sees herself beside her husband, who happens to be driving a speedboat.

She is absolutely delighted by the fact that her husband can drive a speedboat(!), and brings it up in her mind somewhat regularly, partly as a reminder that it it worth staying with him, despite the fact that she doesn’t remember him or seem to have a connection with him, and partly just as an adorable and silly reminder of how amazing her life has become (since she can last remember it), because, goodness, a man must be amazing if he can drive a speedboat(!), and it is even more amazing to be married to such a man.

Totally silly, I know, but that in no way changes the fact that I love it every time I think of it.

The main character does such a good job of convincing the reader of her belief in the fact that her husband’s skill is spectacular, that I found myself even thinking how amazing it would be, even dating someone who knows how to drive a speedboat.

‘Wow!’ I would think, ‘What could that be like, knowing, let alone dating or marrying, such a person?’

And this thinking continued for rather some time – even a couple or few years, I dare say – before something absolutely absurd hit me.

Growing up, two of my grandparents lived in a private community of lakes a ways North of Houston.

It would take us about two hours, door to door.

My uncle kept a ski boat there.

And we grew up kneeboarding and water skiing.

The damn broke terribly when I was supposed to start to learn to ski, but I eventually had the opportunity, when the damn and lake were restored.

And so, for the last couple years my grandparents lived there, I was the only child living at home, and so the only one who went to visit with my dad whenever he went up (the other went, too, but nowhere near as often).

My dad, therefore, taught me just about everything needed in terms of caring for and using the boat.

The ski boat… a speedboat…

Meaning, of course, that I not only know my dad as someone who can drive a speedboat, but that…, well,… I know… myself… you see…

Yeah… not too sure how I missed that one… for years.

πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Not so impossible after all, to find someone who can drive a speedboat. πŸ˜›

Post-a-day 2019

Evening Rest

Pressure, pressure, pressure

Pushing from the inside, pulling from the out-

side

My head turning every which way, wondering where to take me,

where to head

head-on

And then I curl up after my shower, just letting it all go,

including the gas,

and I feel intensely improved,

almost great

Now just ready for bed, to rest my head

before I consider more intently what my next steps will be,

where I next shall leap

full-on, head-on, full power

of me propelling the energy around me, like magnets at work in this swirling world of life and such

Post-a-day 2019