Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Back To School - Again

But not without a fight. No, not like me refusing to get out of my nice, warm bed and Thomas pulling the sheets off me while yelling, "We paid for this and you are going," (although that may or may not have happened on occasion). More like me having to defend my right to pursue further education. Who woulda' thunk?

Having taken five months off from school (yikes, has it really been that long?) I decided to continue German language classes at the Volkshochschule (adult education school). You have to register in person for anything beyond entry level classes so I headed out last week to register. I had printed out the paper with the exact information for the course I was interested in and also brought along the official certifate stating that I had passed my B1 level exam.

First stop lower level where I confirm that there are still openings for the class. Second stop, upper level where I have to complete the registration paperwork so that I once again can return to the first level to pay. All manageable. Or so I thought.

I hand the registration Frau the paper with the B2 course information and tell her I'd like to enroll and then I produce my B1 certificate. The woman starts shaking her head and tells me that "I can't enroll for the class because it is a B2 level and I am only at the B1 level. "I have completed the B1 level," I say as I point to my certificate. She tells me the certificate shows that I have made it TO the B1 level and I say (politely), "No, the certificate states that I have made it THROUGH the B1 level." I tell her that a friend of mine, with the exact same class experience has already signed up for this class. She remains unconvinced and says she has to check with a colleague and so gets up to call the presumed German Oz. After some discussion on the phone she comes back and says NOT "I'm sorry, you were right." BUT "I think you would still be better off in a B1 level course. I think this course will be too hard for you." Huh?

I'm thinking, I've said all of 20 words and I'm fairly certain I said them correctly since I rehearsed them, oh, approximately 800 times on the train ride into the city. What gives? I mean, I know I didn't wear a business suit or anything but it's not like I had on my stupid hat either. What's a stupid hat? This is a stupid hat - favored by Bavarians during festivals such Oktoberfest.
People who wear this hat are prone to doing stupid things like drinking out of it or even worse....

So, back on point.  I want to pay to voluntarily learn the language of a people who wear hats like this and I am being rebuffed?  By an adult education class? Would I have gotten farther with, "Guten Tag, I'd like to sign up for the Building a Better Bonsai class."? What's that, you say? You think this class may be too EASY for me and I should really consider Cement Chemical Composition: Creating a More Concrete Future? Thank you soooo much for realizing my potential.

At this point, She Who Cannot Admit Wrong launches into this whole spiel (which by the way is a German word from das Spiel (game) used in the colloquial sense as in "to blather") about how everyone always wants to be in the higher level and it's not fair to the teacher and the other students.  I tell her I did well in my other classes and I have no doubt I can manage this class. She waves her hands and says, "Oh, everybody always says that but the reality is very different."  She tells me there is a lot of difficult grammar and a lot of vocabulary in this level and I would really be so much better off reviewing the B1 level. I tell her I would rather have it be too hard than too easy.  She's not budging.  She says it is better to review than to be overwhelmed.  I say I have all day to study.  And on and on and on.  Seriously, do you think I want to learn your language so badly that I'm going to don my dirndl and jump into a quark-filled boxing ring to wrestle it out with you? Quite frankly, I'd rather wear one of those stupid hats. 
After ten minutes of back and forth during which my German skills plummeted to 3 year-old child tantrum level, I finally said, "Is there no way I can sign up for this class?" And she said, "I strongly advise you against it. I think you will be very unhappy and you will want to quit." Which is basically all I needed to hear cuz just tell me "no" in any language (Swahili, for example, "hapana") and watch me roll.

ME: But when you still have places free, which you do, and I want to sign up for this EXACT class, which I do, you cannot tell me NEIN, oder?
SWCAW: Stare that borders on a glare.  Shuffles papers.  Shrug shoulders.
ME: Also, gut. Then I would like to sign up for this class. Today. Now.

To conclude: she is not my new bestest friend ever.  School starts on Tuesday.

To update: day one down and I can tell you right from the git go, I ain't the dumbest muffin in class. And She Who Cannot Admit Wrong really needn't have worried about my quitting. I guarantee you I'll die of boredom first.

1 comment:

Seh said...

OMG, your post cracked me up! I'm moving to Munich in November with my German husband (also named Thomas). :)

And I soooo know what you mean about "rehearsing!" Thomas' parents don't speak English, so whenever I want to communicate with them it has to be in short, premeditated sentences. :)