Monday, June 22, 2009
|From 2009 May|
Here are Nathan & Merani in front of Nate's house - #34 - and van. You can see that it is connected to the house next to it. It's the same way on the other side; I'd say there were about 10 houses all connected in one building. Each one had a one-car garage too. We loved their house (as you can see by the excited looks on their faces)!
Their doorbell cycles through a bunch of different songs when rung. One day, they noticed that I was humming the German National Hymn. I don't know the German National Hymn, so I'm quite certain that I must have heard it from their doorbell, but they claim that it is not one of the tunes! Who knows where it came from!
We also love their windows and patio doors. They all have three directions you can turn the handle: if it's down, then the window is locked/closed. If it's horizontal, then you can open it like a regular door. If the handle is upwards, then you can tilt in the window/door from the top. I'm not sure if I'm explaining it that well, but I like it! And I love the built-in shades too.
The front door is tricky to open (even with the key, which is required). I learned that one day after I had walked back to the house alone with the kids and couldn't get in. Of course, I didn't bring my cell phone b/c international roaming would have been quite expensive. So we just sat on the step and waited.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
|From 2009 May|
|From 2009 May|
These first two pics are of Merani holding Mystique - Nate's family's cat. They have two cats - Mystique & Beguira? I have no idea how to spell Beguira's name! That's how I'd spell it in Spanish, but I doubt it's correct. I think it's a name from some book or movie or something. Neither cat was particularly cuddly with us, but Beguira was especially shy. I say shy, but perhaps I should say bothered by us! Anyways, Merani doesn't mind. She loves all animals and wants to hold them all in her hands. If the animal happens to be slow enough, then she gets her way for a bit.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Somebody mentioned on Facebook that they are curious as to how well I learned the language. I had been trying to learn it (crash-course style) the last few months before we left. I tried using the Tell Me More! program, which was available to use online free through a local library. It seemed like a neat program, but I felt like I was going through learning lots of vocab without really understanding any grammar. It's supposed to be similar to the Rosetta Stone, but I haven't tried that, so I can't compare.
A couple of days before leaving, I frantically tried to learn some last-minute stuff. I watched a bunch of youtube videos aimed at teaching german called Learn German with SpeedyConKiwi. For example, here is one teaching some basic conversational stuff. One of my favorite ones, which I thought was quite useful, was her Pronunciation Guide. Unfortunately, when I was explaining some of it to my sister Erin (who is fluent in German), I apparently mis-remembered it and told her some things that were not accurate. So she wasn't impressed with the videos, but looking back at it now, I think that the video was right and I was just not a good student. :) (Check it out Erin, and tell me what your impression is now.) I also really liked this video, and the song was in my head lots while in Germany!
I also signed up for LiveMocha, which is great. You create an account and fill in details regarding what languages you speak and what languages you are learning. Then, you are part of a community of people who are helping each other learn languages. There are lessons, which I've enjoyed, and when you do some of the writing and speaking "homework", then you can have them be reviewed by people who are fluent or experts in your target language. You can also chat with people who speak the language.
Anyways, I had lots of great resources, but I didn't really start in enough time. I could say some very basic things, but never really had much of a conversation in German.
Here's some of my best work (and I am disregarding the umlat for ease of typing):
Die Frau ist klein und dunn. = The woman is short and thin.
Der Mann ist alt und arm. = The man is old and rich.
Die Madchen ist jung und dick. = The girl is young and fat.
Der Junge ist gross. = The boy is tall.
Really impressive, no? Well, while in Germany, I played Guess Who? with Katy. You remember that game, don't you? I had it when I was a kid. So... I asked Katy to play it with me IN GERMAN! So, I learned how to say things like:
Hat die Frau brille? = Does the woman have glasses?
Hat der Mann auchen grun? = Does the man have green eyes?
While in Germany, I logged in to LiveMocha a couple of times and learned a few more important sentences:
Die Haus ist rot. = The house is red.
Der Auto ist schwartz. = The car is black.
Das ist gelben. = This is yellow.
Unfortunately, I found no opportunity to embark in a real conversation with a German person using my limited vocabulary. I did say "Ein stille wasser, bitte" a number of times (which means: "uncarbonated water, please".)
I was able to use the words for "left" and "right" a few times while we were going places --> "links" and "recht". That was exciting.
But usually, my conversations with Germans went like this:
Them: Hallo, blah blah blah blah.
Me (apologetically): Ich sprechen Englisch.
Them: blah blah blah blah
In one instance like this, a woman later told the rest of the family that I didn't remember her from before. I DID recognize her! I just couldn't say anything of value!
I also found that when my brain was trying to tell my mouth to speak in German, my mouth only got the message that it should use a foreign language, so Spanish would come spilling out. That wasn't very helpful. Although, with strangers, it would probably be better so that I can pretend I'm a Spaniard rather than an American. ;)
Jacob learned a bit too. He can proudly tell you "Hallo" and even "Nein!" (which means "no")
Perhaps my title should've been Ich sprechen keine Deutch... :(
Monday, June 8, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
10. Don’t drive in. We got a rental car in
9. Don’t use public transportation. Especially if you’re from
8. Don’t look for souvenir t-shirts. You’d probably want to find something with words in Spanish on it, since you are visiting
7. Buy a
6. Stop by an ice cream shop. But be sure to grab lots of napkins, because there are no tables to sit at in the shop. And those inviting tables just out on the sidewalk are not for you; they are for customers of the outside café there. And you’ll end up sitting on the sidewalk next to a tree, but you’ll need those napkins when you realize that you’re basically sitting in a city ashtray and your daughter has cigarette ash all over her hand. You’ll probably want to prevent that from getting on her ice cream cone.
5. Don’t expect your knowledge of Spanish to assist you in
3. Consider visiting the Aquarium. But figure out how to say aquarium in Spanish if that’s what language you’ll be using. Because, even though the official name of the place is “L'Aquàrium de Barcelona” , the train ticket lady will be thoroughly confused if you throw in that phrase (which I guess is in Catalan) in the middle of your Spanish sentence.
2. Don’t expect to find a couchsurfing host there. I highly recommend couchsurfing in other areas, but apparently,
1. Go to Lleida instead. Yeah, if you’ve got young kids with you, it’s actually a really dumb idea to attempt