New Germans

Tanya and I met while learning German at Kapitel Zwei in December 2013. She seemed to be a down to earth kind of person and I liked her. During the short brakes we started to sneak off for coffee in the canteen on the 8th floor. There we tried our best to communicate and use our somewhat limited German vocabulary. Since we attended the same level, B2.2, it didn’t matter if we made mistakes. We both made them and the important thing was to understand one another. Not to make perfect sentences.

Me and Tanya

Me and Tanya earlier this year.

When we saw each other some weeks ago (Wow, time really does fly!) I suggested a new café I’d found in Linienstraße, Atelier Cacao. It’s actually not just a café, but a chocolate manufacturer and they sell their own delicious eco friendly ice-cream too. I’ve tried Marzipan-Mohn and it’s heavenly. Mohn, or poppy seeds, are very popular here. Mostly in cakes. Don’t know why, because I don’t think they taste much. Luckily marzipan alone makes my day.
However, this time I chose jasmine tea and a simple chocolate cookie. Tanya tried a cake that looked more like a pie. Forgot to ask if it was any good, because we had so much to talk about and share.

Being new to a country is something you can’t imagine what it will be like until you are actually there. Learning a new language can be very tricky, even though you have studied it before. And most importantly, you have to build a whole new network of friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Tanya, being a pianist and piano teacher, has realized this at an early stage, but it’s still difficult when nobody calls anymore. I’ve had the same thought. Not so much work wise as to this network of people who somehow knows who I am. Maybe they even help to define me. Who am I in this new world? I have the freedom to find a new self, but before I can do that I have spent time thinking about what I am ”losing”. Not being part of a certain community anymore makes you lose contact with it. Not every person, but the context. I have a new context. Going through these stages of ”becoming German” it feels good to have someone to talk to. Someone who is going through the same things.

2014-02-25 15.31.08

A view of the river Spree early this year.

Although both of us are Berliners by choice not every day is filled with sunshine and daisies. No, we have our dark moments as well. I found work thanks to my nationality, but Tanya being Moldavian has not yet been so lucky. Not only because of her nationality of course. I could use my writing skills in combination with my Swedish nationality to find work and she wants to find something through her piano playing skills. The best thing about seeing each other isn’t just practicing German and talking about our lives. It’s actually sharing. We share hopes, dreams and ideas. She is still learning German at Kapitel Zwei, I learn it through everyday life. She helps me understand grammar and I talk about new expressions I’ve learnt. Last time we met I realised I am almost fluent in German now! At least when I talk to someone I like and feel comfortable with. I still have a long way to go.

Tomorrow we will see each other again and I’m really looking forward to it. What has happened since last time? I am so curious.