This has definitely been a different week for me. You are now reading the writing of a graduate of course A1 of the GLS School (Schule) in Berlin.
How was it? I'm glad you asked. I turned up on Monday morning (Montag morgen) and took a placement test to determine my current knowledge of the German language. What a humiliating experience that was - I opened the sheet and recognised nothing! I knew I wouldn't be able to ace the test, far from it, but I do know *some* German and thought I'd be able answer a few questions here and there. At least I've got a new 'Lowest Test Score' record that I thought I'd never beat after scoring about 5% on a thermodynamics test back in Uni.
So I get put in the bottom group and go to my first class. Now I mustn't have read the fine print, but I didn't realise the class would be entirely taught in German. I was really starting to wonder what I'd got myself into - I honestly cannot remember concentrating so hard for an hour and a half (Uhr und ein halfe) in any class through school and Uni. At this stage I was starting to think I was a little over my head and this was going to be a big waste of $200, however the next class started, my brain started to thaw and I started to pick things up - now I think about it, I haven't to use my brain since some of those cerebral bending courses I had put up with to become a BE.
The rest of the week flew by fairly easily. Two lessons each day in the morning leaving the arvo for sightseeing. We were pretty much learning was kids in Grade one would learn; one class on plurals, one on adjectives etc. I'm still trying to work out in what part of the development of language did everyday objects get assigned a gender, and how was it decided why a wall (eine wand) is female and a floor (ein boden) is male (there's an easy joke about men being walked over, or having to support women, but I'm not going to make it). Then what about the poor genderless things - I see why, but a boat and the weekend (ein Schiff und das Wochendend) has to be androgynous.
I was pretty much the black sheep of the class, OK, mature age student - although I asked fewer questions that some of them. The rest of the class were Uni students studying abroad - it was kinda funny seeing how their knowledge compared to mine, as a traveller I knew some stuff - numbers, things to do with transport and directions, food etc and I picked up some stuff faster, like the rules behind pluralising everything whereas they would easily pickup the nuances sentence structure while I would struggle. I'm guessing it's due to the difference between learning German when your first language is English compared to Spanish or Italian.
Overall, it was a week really well spent. I honestly can't speak that much more Deutsch than I could before, but my understanding has increased tenfold and I can communicate on a basic level at the checkout or on the train. The main thing is I feel a lot less ignorant and guilty knowing only one language. Now I get to be angry when I speak in the local tongue and the speak back in English - bloody Germans.
Quick word on Berlin. Awesome, awesome city - possible best in Europe. Felt a bit like New York, lots of districts with different personalities all sandwiched together and it seethes with energy and creativity. I understand why locals love living there. Also all the events that have occurred there in the last 100 years is mind boggling. As the guide of the walking tour I did said 'Berlin is in transition at the moment and trying to find itself, and lets hope it stays that way'