My First and Last German Classes

Here, people come to one day go to some place far, far away

During my short stay in Taiwan, I came across some old stuff that brought back some of my precious memories.

For example, here is my first textbook in learning German:

Before I graduated from high school, I decided to study German during my university days.

At first I tried to self-teach myself by on-line materials, but that soon turned out to be insufficient. On-line materials were often behind pay-wall, and it required a lot of effort to force yourself to regular study behind the computer screen.

I mean, you know, whenever you are on line, you would always want to check your e-mail, or your facebook notice, or anything. I’m just not the kind of person that can sit there and listen to an on-line lecture for some half an hour.

So when I attended university, I tried to find a German course for regular study.

The thing was, I had too many mandatory courses as a freshman, such that my schedule were too full to accommodate another language course. So I decided to take the lesson outside campus.

The first class I took was in Goethe Institute. Most of the classmates attended the A1 class with me did not have any knowledge in German, so we share this very unique feeling of starting something at the same time together. I don’t know if that was the reason why we developed a more intimate relationship, when compared to all later German courses.

Most of us kept contact to some extent after the class was dissolved nine months later. After I came to Germany, I even went on a small trip during Christmas with one of my classmates.

It was also there where I developed my first intimate relationship and had my first genuine date, you know, not the ones in high school that you did not know WTF you are doing now with this girl.

I remembered well that the course was on Friday evening. I also remembered well that I took mandatory Chinese classes on Friday afternoon, just before my German course.

The Chinese class was quite unconventional, where the teacher taught Mythology; mainly Chinese mythology, but also Greek, Nordic, Japan, and many other subjects. I liked the feeling of being unconventional, and I liked the stories and interpretations to the stories.

Thus gradually, the latter half of Friday became the most exciting part of the week in my freshman year, because you knew you got to learn things that were interesting to you, then with the person who you highly valued, and then you could go home, took a shower and had a sleep, and then it would be a wonderful start of the weekend.

But too few student remained in the class for it to continue operating. So three months after the dissolve of my first German class, I went to another not so known institute for the last part of A1.

The classmates here were constantly varying in that class, and so the bond between us was far weaker.

Until around the Chinese new year of 2016, when someone also from Taida (my university) joined the class.

It was about the time when I took TOEFL and began to seriously consider studying abroad. The classmate was going to attend an exchange program in Duesseldorf for a year, so she gave much insight on how to apply the visa, the insurance, and all the stuff you needed before you were allowed to study Germany.

But I think she was few of the classmates who had also attempted to get to know everyone not only in our class but also the entire institute. She would chat more often about things and considerations of other people, so in some way she became a catalyst for the class to get to know each other.

For example, were it not for her, I wouldn’t have known that one of our classmates were a member during the famous strike of flight attendants of the China Airlines in June 2016.

By September 2016 she left the class for Germany, and the good atmosphere we once had soon disappeared as new attendees came in. It was a little bit sad.

Still, I happened to meet a high school English teacher during my last year studying Germany in Taiwan. He already spoke fluent English (needless to say) and French (above C1), and learning German was one of his hobbies, alongside with joining a chorus and catching Pokemon nearby.

And then it was finally my turn. My last German class was a week before I left Taiwan. By then I only knew one other classmate who stayed since the very beginning.

I think that’s how a language class works. Here, people come to one day go to some place far, far away.

(It was good, however, to know that my class survived until to date during my return visit to Taiwan. I went back to see the teacher during my return trip to Taiwan. She was still the same nice teacher and enthusiastic in teaching German; her online German program is ideal for beginners that have greater perseverance than me.)

I did not go to a German course after I arrived in Germany. Partly for the costs, partly for the lack of necessity I naively assumed initially. After all, one would always think, you get to speak German naturally when you are in Germany, don’t you?

It just wasn’t like that, especially in an international course. My reading and listening might have improved, and you can see how I have been struggling to sustain my writing here in Medium, but speaking has been the most difficult.

Whenever a German asks “Wie bitte?” or simply gives me a question mark on her/his face, I would often frighten out and turn to my default English tune.

To be honest, my English improved much more than German in my stay here, especially my writing and speaking.

To be furthermore honest, I don’t really know why and what I have just written.

My time in German courses is definitely an important part of my life, but it is not something like my studying in renewables, or my involvement in environmental movements. I find no imperative passion that I can share from it.

It is mostly some sort of nostalgia for the lost innocent days I suppose, another part of everyday’s life that will torture you more as you get older. The alas and what-ifs.

I hope whenever I think of more detailed stories about the classmates I have just mentioned in the future, I can write it down too. It feels irresponsible to just mention them without giving more context. Sometimes I wonder if these images are yet another kind of nostalgic fetish.

Which reminds me of this very last, seemingly unrelated thing: during my Mythology class in freshman year, our teacher assigned us an essay as homework, with the topic of “Love for Things”.

I did not know why she took so high esteem of my work. Among all the students within the class, I was the only she nominated for some literature prize in campus.

Now I partially know why. We mortals will always need a myth to believe in, and a God/ness to worship. And to live in a scientific era is to mean that we have to build up the myths and God/nesses by ourselves.

A Taiwanese student who studied Renewable Energy in Freiburg. Now studying smart distribution grids / energy systems in Trondheim.