Jetzt muss ich mich von der sehr schönen Stadt Aachen verabschieden, um in ein anderes Land zu umziehen. Ich wird die bekannte Sehenswürdigkeiten (z.B. den Aachener Dom, die Stadtpark, die Carolus Thermen und das Dreiländereck) aber auch die weniger bekannten Stellen, die ich nach meiner Exploration der Stadt gefunden habe, vermissen.

Ich wird auch meine Freunden hier in Aachen und in die Euregio vermissen. So viele wirklich nette Leute habe ich in Deutschland, die Niederlande und Belgien kennengelernt. Die Tangotänzer, die andere Deutschlerner an der Sprachenakademie, die Wissenschaftler bei RWTH, meine Nachbarin (wirklich ein Engel!) … Obwohl ich bei meiner Ankunft in Deutschland kein Deutsch sprechen konnte, habe ich willkommen gefühlt.

Bin ich jetzt bereit, Deutschland zu verlassen? Jein. Wenn ich mehr Zeit hätte, würde ich besser Deutsch lernen und mehr Leute, wie die nette Freiwillige und Blogger bei WordPress.com, hier in Deutschland kennenlernen. Aber ich freue mich auch auf dieses neue Abenteuer in ein neues Land, und ich hoffe, im Zukunft nach Deutschland zu reisen. Also, tschö, Aachen! Auf Wiedersehen!

Ich bitte, dass ihr meine Deutschfehler entschuldigt! Nach zwei Jahre in Deutschland kann ich viel Deutsch sprechen und schreiben, aber ich habe noch kein gutes Gefühl für die Sprache.

Ringing in 2014

As the minute hand ticked toward midnight, my friends and I grabbed our glasses of champagne and gathered together. I slipped my husband’s glass into his hand as he cradled our friend’s baby girl, just a couple of weeks old and already greeting a new year.

Midnight arrived and we clinked glasses, carefully keeping eye contact and exchanging greetings for the new year in each of our languages. I managed a few sips of champagne before we gathered our arsenal of fireworks and ran down to the street to join the neighbors who were already outside celebrating.

As we prepared our rockets, fountains, and firecrackers, I looked up and down the street. A half-dozen other groups of friends and families were setting off their own displays, including some impressive roman candles from a larger group on the street corner. Even bigger fireworks from surrounding streets shone over the rooftops around us.

We waved to the new baby and her mother in the window, watching the show from inside. Bright colors and the sounds of festivities filled the street. We let out spontaneous “oohs,” “aahs,” and applause for our favorites — like our little rocket that spiraled up into the air (and came dangerously close to lighting up our friend’s balcony) and the sizzling starburst fireworks in the neighbor’s street-corner display.

Looking around the neighborhood, I felt we were all linked by a mixture of euphoria, fear, and the hazy smoke filling the air from explosion after explosion. Finally, we exhausted our supply and slowly made our way back inside, warming up our chilled fingers and toes and settling in to the new year together.

Image of New Year’s Eve 2011/2012 in Köln by Ingo Meironke (cc)

How English Sounds to Non-English Speakers

This post could also be titled, “How a language sounds when you barely know it.” If you’ve never spent time in a place where your native language isn’t spoken, try watching that video and imagining that everyone around you is talking like that.

This video reminds me of how German sounded to me when I was first learning it … or even how it sometimes sounds to me now. (Sigh.) I’ve spent my entire life learning languages, and I’ve lived abroad before, but I never had so much empathy for non-native English speakers in the US as I did after moving here. It’s so hard to move to a new country and start learning a new language from scratch. Especially when you don’t particularly love that language. You study and listen and catch a familiar word here or there, but the rest just jumbles together incoherently.

It’s also interesting how languages have particular sounds that identify them. Walking down the street or sitting in a restaurant, I can sometimes trick myself into thinking that I’m hearing English around me. But then an umlaut comes out and declares itself to be German! Likewise, I can be surrounded by German speakers and then, across the sounds of the crowd around me, hear the rolling lilt of Spanish. Even when I can’t hear the words, I recognize the sound of it.

And so, with that idea in mind, you might enjoy the song “Prisencolinensinainciusol.” It’s complete gibberish that’s meant to mimic the sounds of American English — and it’s also a bit more light-hearted and entertaining: