Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chapter 2, In which I suffered a personal setback, and continued with my life

This blog is largely supposed to be a reflection of my experience here in Germany as part of the immersion program that I’m taking part in. This implies that it’s largely independent of the sordid details of my own personal life, and I’ll generally try to stay true to that. But I’m going to have to deviate here, for a brief period.

I initially began learning the German language at the beginning of 2011 because I had a German girlfriend at the time, and I wanted to be able to communicate with her (in German), and also with her family (who spoke little English). With this in mind, I set off on the path that led me to where I am today (namely, Germany). Unfortunately, life does like to throw us curveballs, and I am no exception. Shortly after arriving, my girlfriend broke up with me (this was about a week before the writing of this post), and that knocked me for a loop. I don’t plan on dwelling on it, either in my life or in my writing, but it has to be stated, so that you can understand some of what is stated here, and some of what is not.

I came with some preconceived notions of how I’d be spending my time, and I now find myself redefining the experience, which is hard. It is somewhat more difficult for me to drag myself out and about, to do all those lovely touristy things we all wish we had the opportunity to do! Nevertheless, I’ll be making a concerted effort to keep living, and so that living is what I’ll be sharing here.

My classes continue apace, with no seeming reduction in pace or content – I find that I’m learning at a minimum tens of words per day (although my German usage has declined, as I’ve been making a rather large number of English phone calls home). The classes run for about 4.5 solids hours, but I find that it is anything but boring. There’s something very exciting about communicating in a language other than your mother tongue. If, like me, you’ve only ever been monolingual, it’s an amazing sensation, and addictive.

Outside of class, we were given a holiday this past week. I took the opportunity to go and explore a local Schloss (castle), called Schloss Benrath in the vicinity of Düsseldorf. For those of you that haven’t been to Europe, there’s a general sense of age to some of the things here, and this was no exception. Some of these buildings were here while the United States was still changing its metaphorical diapers! I even managed to take some pictures (even though in some cases I wasn’t supposed to), and those’ll be sprinkled through the text.

When I arrived at the Schloss, I was greeted by the following sights:

I paid 5 euros to for full admittance to the premises, and a guided tour of the mansion itself, pictures above. When we actually came inside, I was informed that I shouldn’t take pictures, so I only have a few. In the main dining hall, I captured the tour guide!

For any of you who have ever had the pleasure of watching Muzzy for a language program, this man was Corvax. He looked a bit like Corvax, sounded like Corvax…it was uncanny. Except he wasn’t evil. I think. In any event, as we explored the house, I realized that it was just a tremendously beautiful place. Imagine sitting in your receiving room with this ceiling above you:

It’s quite something! It was simply breathtaking in person. The backyard was perhaps equally striking:

It was a gorgeous day, and the gardens were really very pretty. The swan I (and several others) happened to meet agreed!

Before I returned home for the day, I realized that my phone actually had a rear facing camera, and took a quick shot of myself, for any who are wondering what I look like. This is me, at Schloss Benrath!