Two weeks ago we’d dropped by the community college to talk with the German teacher about which class I should take. I was registered for advanced, but my grammar is crap and my book learnin’ is very rusty. The teacher suggested I sit in on both A2 – mittlekurs, and B2 – advanced. A1 had their last session yesterday afternoon, the same day that B2 started. So there I was, standing in the doorway of the last session of A1, Deutsch fur Auslanders.
A few of the students were there already. A tiny Phillipina invited me in, coralling me in to a chair between a blonde woman from Kosova and a very pregnant Brazillian woman with brown skin and kinky hair. They all seemed delighted to see me, but certainly they couldn’t have been more delighted than I was. Foreigners! God bless them, more than one, all in one room! Two from Kosovo, one from Brazil, two from the Phillipines, one from Chile, a handful of Slovenians, and a perpetually amused looking man from Poland. I wanted to hug them. All of them. Every single one. “Hi honey! I’m HOME!” I felt like shouting.
They asked me where I was from, how long I’d been in Austria, was I married to an Austrian, how was my German, what was I doing here, anyway, was I going to be in the next class, did we have kids, etc etc etc etc. All this in a mix of English and oddly accented German. “I have Phillipina friends in American,” I told my defacto hostess. She lit up like I told her she’d won the lottery. “REALLY! What do they DO?!” One of the students (I think he was Slovenian) had just had a baby and was handing out chocolates and giant cans of Coke. Another one had brought her tiny son, he sat at her side during lessons and sometimes wandered circles around the classroom.
Because it was the last day, things were quite informal, but we did do some lessons. In discussion around the new offspring, the teacher explained traditions for visiting the family, for baptism, for confirmation. Then, in order to learn how to use a certain type of negative, we discussed Lent. Two of the students are Muslim, so we talked about what you don’t eat during Ramadan. The woman sitting asked me if I was Catholic. “Nope,” I said, “Judische.” She looked at me like I’d said, in all seriousness, that I was from the moon. She repeated it, slowly. “Yooooo-deeeesh?” she said. I nodded my head. She still looked confused. “Listen,” I said, “Don’t look at me like that. You’re Muslim and you live HERE. You’ve got to be the only one around for MILES.” She laughed and nodded her head. “Pretty much,” she said.
I didn’t get to talk to everyone, but the class is small and the next session (I’m sticking with A2) starts Tuesday. The Muslim woman from Kosovo lives just up the road from me, we’re talking of carpooling and getting together. She speaks excellent English, she was a language liason before she married her Austrian and moved here.
It should be really fun. It’s not just the language lessons, which are both much needed and very enjoyable. It’s those smilling foreigners. There aren’t a lot of them but the break in the homogenity of the dairy valley in which we live is like instant spring break in the middle of winter. Watch this space for the bloom to wear off the rose, but for now, I couldn’t be more delighted.
A carpool and a ukulele club? Who knew?!