Today was the first official day of my program, and so, of course, this was the day I got a little lost. I messed up my train stops this morning, but thankfully my mess up wasn’t too bad, and I still made it to Humboldt Univeristaet (HU) on time.
This morning was final registration for the program and the German proficiency test. The test is designed to gauge fluency in the language, measured using the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (A1 & A2: beginner, B1 & B2: intermediate, C1 & C2: advanced/fluent). The course I’m currently registered for is labeled as a C1 level course, but depending on how well (or how poorly) I did on the test, that might change. The test itself was super strange. There were four short paragraphs, and in each paragraph, every other word was missing half the letters. I had to figure out which word it was and which letters were missing, all through the context of the whole paragraph. It’s something that could even stump a native speaker. There were some that I left totally blank because I had absolutely no clue what word could have gone there.
After the test, the program leaders took us all on a tour around the campus and showed us where our Unterricht (class) will be and where we can eat lunch. On this tour, I made my first on-my-own friend! I met Mimi, who is a PhD student from Philadelphia, and she showed me around the city a bit, since she knows the area better than I do. We stopped in a few stores, and I bought some new sneakers because the slip-ons from Walmart that I’d been wearing were not cutting it.
We met back up with the rest of the group for lunch in Monbijou Park, where we were provided sandwiches and drinks. There was even a small band for us. Here, I met a some other students from London, Turkey, Lebanon, and other places. It was really neat to meet other people who have the same interest in German as I do. We all hung out together for a bit, and then went our separate ways home.
There are some things I’ve noticed here this time that are different compared to things as I remember from two years ago. In Chicago, a lot of people go on segway tours or rent it for a while, but here in Berlin, people rent electric scooters and ride them everywhere. I even saw some high school aged guys doing tricks on them. When I was here last time, people walking dogs was not super common. I would only see a handful of people with dogs around. Now, I see dogs everywhere! (Not that I’m complaining!) Sometimes Berliners don’t even use a leash – that’s how well trained their dogs are. Berliners even bring them on the bus. It’s adorable. So far, those are my two Bemerkungen (things I’ve noticed), but I’m sure I’ll find many more.