Today I went to a very interesting symposium all about the way that statisticians count "Migrants in Germany." It was much more interesting and nuanced that you are probably imagining and I really feel like I learned more than I expected. There were amazing presentations and the professionals presenting are renowned scholars in their fields. I geeked out at this thing, and I'm not even a statistician groupie.
I recently had a discussion with two American friends wherein we all agreed that we think it is weird when people here learn that we are American,and then proceed to ask us "Wieso kannst du so gut Deutsch sprechen?" This translates as "Why do you speak such good German?" We agreed that not only is it an odd thing to ask, but that there really is not a good way to answer this question. I have also recently been lamenting the fact that my German probably isn't ever going to get significantly better than it is right now. My German is by no means perfect and I am always finding the limits of my vocabulary as I have documented here before. Today I chose a different path for myself. I'm working on changing the way I think about myself, and I like to think that this small step today was just the beginning.
The entire symposium was in German--not just regular run of the mill German, but academic German which can be very difficult to understand. Add onto the vocabulary failures, the fact that there were at least 5 different accents floating about, and you can perhaps imagine the fun that could have been my linguistic incompetence today. But the thing was, that my language skills did not fail me. I honestly understood at least 90% of everything that was said AND could not only take notes but make critical arguments in my head about what was being discussed. That is new to me. Yes, there were a few words here and there that I did not know the meaning of, but that actually happens to me in English at academic-y things too. I'm not writing this to brag at all, rather to remind myself that it is just fine to not understand every single word in German all the time. I need to cut myself some slack with regards to language more often here! Once I thought about these facts, I actually felt accomplished and smart for perhaps the first time in our entire stay here up until this point. How silly is that? Hopefully this slack I'm cutting myself can also move into other realms of my life as well, though letting go and not being hyper-critical of myself for not living up to my ridiculously impossible standards has never been my forte in general. I carry the banner of pragmatic unrealistically ambitious girl too well at this point in my life! Isn't it funny that the things some friends treasure most in you, you cannot apply to your own life?
In related news, my research is going well right now.
Time for note writing.