The other day I read and commented on Cathy Dobson’s blog (The blog has sadly gone) about her first few (acually 20) years of living in Germany after having moved there from England. It brought back many memories of when I moved from Germany to England.
I was lucky because I already spoke (if badly) English, and I married a Brit who was able to help me with lots of things. But he was at work and I did have to go out on my own and brave the English world!
I remember having to get a national insurance number. The building was a huge room where everybody sat and waited until your number was called. You then went to the front and had to speak to one of the people there. I remember there were HUNDREDS of people waiting with me and EACH ONE of them could hear that I wasn’t English when it was my turn to speak at the front!
Ok, there probably were only 35 and they most likely couldn’t hear a word I said, but I felt terrible.
I remember my mother-in-law asking me to get some sausages from the butchers one day. The mere thought of asking at the counter made me sweat. Wasn’t there a supermarket nearby I could use???
I remember going into an off-licence asking for a bottle of wine. I only knew Liebfrauenmilch (I wasn’t a wine connoisseur ;-)) Well, I didn’t know that the English pronunciation was different to the German!
All those problems were little problems because I did speak English and I did know things about England, yet to me they felt HUGE!
That’s why I don’t just teach German, I try to help people with anything cultural they may encounter if they move to Germany or deal with German companies – just don’t ask me about any wines 😉