I Miss Conversing With People

14 Jun

I’ve been here in Germany for 6 months, and yet I feel depressed with my surroundings. After giving it some thoughts, I think I know what happened. There are two factors that influence this.

First up, is the difference in the two cities that I’ve resided. Some months ago, I was in a small suburban town in northern Germany. Neümunster, a small town where I did my internship, was a lovely countryside. Slower pace that it carries, and more importantly, the friendly people, kept me alive. No matter where or when, I can be sure that I talk to strangers more in Neümunster than in Karlsruhe, a bigger city where I spend my summer school. It proves the general opinion that people in big cities are more individualists. It might be not as stressful if I can make friends and get along with the locals. However, the second problem, which is the last point, arises here.

The biggest mistake that one can make while doing study abroad is, in my opinion, to not know anything about the native language of one’s destination. Yes, you can get away with English. English is a universal language, you can find people speak English anywhere. Although, in my own belief, I don’t learn much by speaking English here in Germany. English itself is not my native language, so I happened to have the same experience in learning the language. There is a big difference in learning the language in class and in actual conversation. Let me give you an example.

Two words with similar meaning might be perceived in totally different way in practice. I never thought that the word ‘hate’ can have a strongly negative meaning to disapprove something. Saying something like, “I don’t prefer that one” gives the same meaning in a more respectful manner.

See here, when it comes to real conversation, a small thing such as this choice of words can make a big impact on the emotion that people express to you as an answer. I believe the best way to learn it is to speak a lot of English. That’s what I try to do when I am at Purdue. Going back to the problem, we can relate the example to my case in Karlsruhe. I want to learn more about the language, but with my level of German, I can’t even engage myself in a conversation.

Once more, one can survive doing study abroad, or at least here in Karlsruhe, Germany. But if you want more than just having fun and play around, as in, you want to immerse yourself with the natives, get yourself some language course.

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