Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Sie denken, daß es ist zu Ende. Es ist jetzt!

Last night I sat the final exam in my Open University German course (L130).

It was an online oral exam where we were to be given one of four initiatives for changes to events/exhibitions in Türbingen, for which you would then have to give a two-minute presentation as if you were asking for funding from the Town Council. We knew what the four proposals were in advance (to do with Türbinger Kinder-Uni, Türbinger Bücherfest, Kunst in Tübingen, and - very unexpected this - the Türbingen Viva AfroBrasil open air festival), but not which one we'd get.

Then, in groups of four, we were led into the virtual exam room. I was given AfroBrasil to do my presentation about. As this was the fourth in the list, it was the one I'd least prepared for. But, if there are marks for colourful language and enthusiasm, this was the one that gave me more scope for standing out. (The photo here is from the AfroBrasil website, and is of Bateria Da Mangueira. But you knew that, right?)

I don't think I disgraced myself too badly. My only fear is that as I had to use a dictionary a lot to look up unusual words and work out the pronounciation, I might have said something unintentionally surreal ('The AfroBrasil festival is mongoose-inducing banana-split with much fiery wash-stand!'). Indeed, I did detect a slight chuckle in the examiner's voice when she thanked me for my talk. The other problem is that unless the others had similarly scoured their Collins', they wouldn't have a clue what I was talking about.

Oh, and I had tried to sneak in a Rammstein title-track to each presentation. I'd managed it with the other three, but the only R+ I could think of for AfroBrasil was 'Te quiero puta!', which is a phrase rather hard to smuggle in under the radar.

There then followed an eight minute group discussion where we had to address the merits or not of each initiative, and to come to some kind of agreement. This was a bit strange because of course you can't see each other (it's all done through headsets), so the only way you could tell if someone wanted to speak was if they 'virtually' raised their hand with a screen icon. So, the flow was a bit disjointed, with sometimes people talking over one another. Sometimes I'd click to raise my hand, then start speaking without holding down the 'sprache' button. So nobody could hear me.

I think we were heading towards voting for the AfroBrasil project. But it caused angst because it involved flying Brazilian performers over from Brazil, which would be rather costly to the Council and to the environment. I suggested we could have a 'satellitenfunk' with Brazil, by which I meant a satellite link-up, but it was a word that just came to me so goodness knows what I really said!

Anyway, that's it. No more learning German with the OU. No more electronic essays to send in. No more listening to disembodied voices over the ether. No more Tübingen, Leipzig or Graz. A bit sad in a way, as I have enjoyed the course and have learned a great deal.

But, soon (soon! Soon!) we will have sold our house and started our journey to moving to Germany, where I'll have lots of opportunity to learn as much German as I can!

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Friday, 7 September 2007

Bonjour Paris!

Paris Metro by Andie Gilmour
In Paris for a few days. God, how I love this city! I am supposed to be revising for my Open University exam, but the natives aren't so keen when you try and speak German at them; I can't imagine why.

Quick joke: Two German ex-Panzer Division Officers, twenty years after the war, arrange to meet up together in a Paris bar where they used to frequent during the occupation. They don't think being openly German would go down very well, so they decide to pretend to be English.
Well, they meet up outside the bar and warmly embrace after all this time. They go up to the bar and one says, 'Pip-pip garcon, what oh?" (his grasp of 'Englishness' is rather stereotypical), "Martinis for me and my old mate, if you'd be so kind."
The bar-tender enquires 'Dry Martinis?' to which the answer is, "Nein! Zwei!"

Okay, I'll get my coat . . .