Eight days of class completed, Köln feels like a whole new world. Don't get me wrong – the 40 class hours haven't miraculously gifted me with fluent German or anything. But neither do I feel completely helpless when spoken to.
Our teacher is outspoken and looks a little like a Santa Claus. In a booming voice, he taunts and humiliates us into quasi-functional German answers to his initially incomprehensible questions. He seems to speak a little of every language in the world, and is clearly very well traveled (due to his holiday stocking-stuffing excursions, perhaps?). This is good, because, as a class, we're something of a Tower of Babel. I'd imagined a class chocked full of Yanks, but was pleasantly surprised to find myself in a class consisting consist of: 2 US Americans (counting myself), 2 Russians, 2 Brazillians, 2 Turks, 1 Venezuelan, 1 Pole, 1 Portugese, 1 South Korean, 1 Japanese, 1 Spaniard, and 1 Tunisian. We range, in age, from 18 to 33. Most of us speak English, but not all, and everyone is very friendly. As far as why we're all here in Köln, love may not make the world go round, but it seems to make the world move around, as most of us are here to be with a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife (as well as to live, learn, and work, of course). We're all becoming fast friends, few of us knowing many people around the city. Sometimes during class breaks, this means resorting to Deutsch as a common currency of communication. Really, this is proving an ideal way to learn German, not to mention meet people from all over the world.
Later this week, Herr Lehrer (that's the teacher) is taking us shopping in an open-air market, where we'll be expected to identify produce items by name, and smoothly navigate transactions in German. Kelly didn't hafta sign any permission slips for this field trip, but all the same, I'm hoping there's a long rope we'll all be required to hold onto. Or at least that we're instructed on the importance of the buddy system.
Anyway, should the opportunity arise, and time and money are no object, I heartily recommend uprooting yourself, relocating to a strange land, allowing sufficient time to become desperately bored, and then devoting yourself to a full-time language course.