koln germany

5 German Words I learned today [4/10/17] and everything about living with German flatmates my High School textbook didn’t prepare me for

By the grace of the Bundesrepublik I have successfully moved into my German flat, or my “WG” as it is called here: A giant house that I share with about 70 other students. That’s right: 70 students speaking German to me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I now get up in the morning and have to literally compose myself in a new language before stepping out of my room and engaging in a conversation in a foreign language. There are some scenarios my High School textbook prepared me for, like going to the movies, catching the bus, and talking about my immediate family. But I relish in that which I am unprepared for: my flatmates asking me how I felt when LeBron James moved to Miami, or how is the government paying for your renewable energy research if Trump is the one in charge? Some things don’t have textbook answers. 

My flatmates are so polite, so well-educated, and so welcoming. It is, quite honestly, the most thrilling experience of my life. My new German friends say to me when I listen to them conversing  (not yet being able to jump into their quick intellectual slang) “You must be so sick of hearing German.” I tell them I feel the opposite, that I’ve lived a life in English, but I feel invigorated in an environment that is strictly German-speaking. 

trotzdem - Nevertheless. As in my new flatmates telling me “Your Masters Degree is being taught in English? Nevertheless, you must learn German. You have no choice.” Aren’t they just the sweetest? 2/10 stars. 

die Glühbirne - a lightbulb. The word literally translates to “glowing pear”, which is the kind of fruit-based etymology I am astounded and enchanted by. Time to go out to the store and buy myself one of these glowing pears for my desk lamp. 10/10 stars.   

eine Fledermaus - a bat, as in those spooky things that pop up during Halloween. I helped my flatmates cut out bat-shaped cardstock name tags for all 80 house mates (70 in my complex, the “haupthaus” and 10 in the separate family flats for students with small children.) I’ve become an expert at inserting myself into the conversation by pointing at something and saying “Wie sagt man das auf Deutsch?” It’s the only way I’ll learn. 8/10 stars.  

“ECHT?” - REALLY? This is a fun little (almost) slang word I’ve picked up on hanging out with everyone in the house. Someone will say “You know that Dobby dies in the last Harry Potter film?” (an actual conversation from yesterday’s breakfast that I was able to keep up with) and someone else will respond “ECHT?” at the top of their lungs. Going to start using this more, even while speaking in English, just because the word does such a good job clearing the phlegm from your lungs. 7/10 stars.  

der Jura - Law, the study of it. I live with a lot of law students, and when my flatmate Jeffery first told me he studied “Jura”, I didn’t know what he meant. Jeffery has (of course!) been speaking English since he was in the third grade, so he quickly said “law”, which I always thought was das Recht (which actually means law in terms of people getting justice, not the study of law) or das Gesetz (which actually means a law as in a bill or a statute, the physicality of law). 5/10 stars.   

Are you studying Jura in a German university? I would love to hear about your experience! (mostly so I can have a better conversation with Jeffery) Write my inbox! I’m just dying to hear from you! Tschuuuuuus!