Chopper and I have both had exposure to the German language prior to moving here. I took 2 years in high school (would have been 4 but my family moved and it wasn't offered at my high school in Virginia) and Chopper had 2 years in college. But A) when you don't use it, and B) when you hear it spoken by native speakers . . . well let's just say it's been pretty nonexistent for both of us.
I have decided though that I don't just want to try to get by, I really want to try to become pretty fluent. I have never felt so out of place in an area and I think that the primary factor is language. It is true that the majority of German Nationals that I have spoken to so far have a decent command of English or are downright amazingly fluent. I know that they start English as a 2nd language in their schools at a young age but it is still very impressive. But I feel like an idiot trying to speak and hoping I get the sounds and the words right and I really don't like not being able to read signs!! Especially with the things that we're seeing -- there are often informational signs and I want to know the history and things about these buildings and areas!
I have a new found EMPATHY for people who come to the United States as adults and use their children as translators. As an adult it is very difficult to learn and understand quickly. I know we've only been here 2 weeks so far but I do feel a strong desire to be able to communicate well.
So that's the first thing.
The next is food. Oh food. I am so grateful that we are staying in an apartment and I don't have to drag the kids out for 3 meals a day. But I am certainly not complaining about the food!
Schnitzel is awesome!! (That's it on the left). Spaetzle (top right) is ok but the gravy that it was in was too strong for my taste. Chopper says that German food speaks to his southern soul and I have to admit, there are similarities! But I think this is better! We're limited in our restaurant choices by walking distance but have found German, Greek, and Italian that we like and have yet to get a reservation at the Mexican restaurant that all the Americans like and apparently the Germans don't go to!
We have also discovered the joys of gelato. There's a shop called Penguino's Eis just around the corner and it's less than 1 Euro for a single scoop cone so we kind've go there a lot. They have amazing flavors -- have i blogged about this before? I know it's been on Facebook so I lose track sorry. We've had typical flavors but our favorites so far have been the fruit ones -- zitrone (lemon) grapefruit (I can't remember what the German word for that one was) and one called waldmeister that is a light, sweet, herb one. I can't describe it but it's really good.
Then last week we took our first trip to a Germany grocery called Nahkauf. It's a mix of familiar and unfamiliar but the best thing was the selection of chocolate that we don't get in the states and the strangest thing (so far maybe) was that milk and eggs are not refrigerated. And the milk comes in teeny-tiny cartons. I don't know what's been done to it so that it doesn't have to be refrigerated and I've certainly been sticking mine in there anyway but I was a little wary of buying it at first!!
We've also found that there are bakeries everywhere and I have fallen in love with kaiser rolls. Megan calls them sea star or sand dollar rolls because they have a swirly star cut into the top. A girl in my ward says that she just considers the food as another souvenir because she'll be taking a few extra pounds home with her and I certainly will be falling into that category!!