Every morning for the last three weeks, I have been attending German language classes with the German Language School or GLS. It's been a real treat to wake up and be a student again. I love it. I feel like I have a purpose and something to work towards. I'm slightly less affectionate about the subject matter itself but I feel strongly that I should have at the very least a basic understanding of the official language of the country I've chosen to move to. I certainly could exist here in Berlin without any knowledge of German because there are so many English speakers, many foreigners who only speak their mother tongue and English. In the short time we've been here I've met a few Europeans who've told me they don't plan to learn German even though they live in Berlin. Call me old-fashioned, but I feel like that is a bit aggressive and presumptuous, to actively not participate in learning the language of the country you're living in and assume the populous will accommodate you anyway. Definitely not my style but to each their own, I suppose. Maybe it's my fear of being viewed as a dumb American, but I would like to reach some sort of competency in understanding German during my time living here. In my mind, that is obligatory. And as of right now, my brain is pretty much overflowing with so much new information, in German and English. It's intense but exciting. Just in the three weeks I've been in school I've learned so much. Obviously, I'm still a beginner and quite far from being conversational but it's really exciting to already notice a difference. The city is a totally different place now that I've started to understand some of the words that are in it. Sometimes I can even complete basic interactions with German speaking humans! I know some of the words on my shampoo bottle! I understand more of the German-dubbed episodes of Forensic Files on TV! I can only imagine how amazing life will be when I know what all the shampoo bottles say and can follow the storyline of all Forensic Files episodes! I'm excited to maybe, one day, get to that point but in the meantime, I just have to keep learning and try to not become overwhelmed by all the new information assaulting my brains. And on that note, I would like to share something special with you all. I would like to reveal to you my latest teaching aid in my German-learning journey. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Secret of the Unicorns or Das Geheimnis der Einhörner.
I bought this German tween fiction on a whim on my walk home at a bookstore in our neighborhood and at €2.50, I think it was a real steal! For those of you who did not know me in my prime, around age 9, you should know that along with wanting to change my name to Tony, I may or may not have been completely infatuated with mythical creatures. I blame premature exposure to my Mom's "Motherpeace" tarot deck, specifically the Daughter of Swords card (she just seemed like a real badass from the illustration), and imagery from a combination of films including The Labyrinth, Ladyhawk, Legend, The Last Unicorn, Clash of the Titans, and the pink forest from music video for Gypsy by Fleetwood Mac (imbedded below for your viewing pleasure) . I was particularly smitten with unicorns, Pegasus, and, because only one fantastical physical attribute on a horse was not enough, I was also crazy about the double-whammy version of these mythical creatures, the winged unicorn, or Pegacorn. So when I saw this glorious book in the sale bin outside the bookstore I knew I had to have it, you know, for my German education. The reading level is probably for ages 10 and up, the type is large, text widely spaced, and there are adorable black and white sketches of sparkling unicorns sprinkled throughout. My goal is to read a page or two at a time, a few times a week and eventually, with the help of a German dictionary—or perhaps a German ten year-old— finish this exciting novel so I can tell you, my devoted readers, what The Secret of the Unicorns really is! From reading the back cover, I can understand the protagonist is named Laura and her unicorn sidekick is appropriately named Star Tail, or Sternenschweif. I would've gone with a name like Rainbow Flutter (Regenbogenflattern) or Glitter Coat (Glitzerfell) but whatever. I can also tell from the illustrations that there will be some unicorn riding, a magical box, and lots of sparkles involved. So stay tuned to learn more about what happens with Laura, Sternenschweif, and my own self-discipline —or lack thereof.