Friday, February 22, 2013

Quiet week

The past week has been a rather quiet one. Not many apartment viewings were scheduled, and although we got an email thanking us for one of our applications and informing us that they would choose three finalists for interviews, we've heard nothing further. This may be due to the fact that we have not been sending in a cover letter with our application, a fact that we realized (Ok, I "discovered" and B "remembered"; his response - "Oh yeah, I did do that for this apartment. Hmm. Interesting.") after sending out all but one of our applications. Oops.

Hopefully we'll have better luck with the next round of applications - we have six viewings scheduled for next week. I think that a cover letter will definitely help to explain why B has a mysteriously appearing wife with no apparent background (on paper, it does look like I just materialized in his apartment 6 weeks ago). We can also work in a not-so-subtle references to his job (yay for paycheck security) and my Harvard PhD (Don't we sound RESPONSIBLE? Even if I am unemployed? Plz let us have an apartment!).

German class continues apace. We started on some heavy vocab this week, and I did know heading in that German likes to spread the object gender love, as it has masculine and feminine as well as neuter definite articles (in contrast to English, which has only neuter, and French, which has only masc. and fem.). So I had braced myself for that (and, it turns out, it's not too terrible, since for the indefinite, the masc. and neuter have the same artikel. What I mean to say is that it's not too terrible yet).

What I had not anticipated was the unbelievable variety of ways to pluralize nouns. It's A LOT. And it's not similar to English, in which you typically throw on an 's' or 'es' at the end and learn the exceptions (mice, geese, etc). No, no. There are around TEN WAYS a noun can be pluralized. And to make it better, there are very, very few rules. Yep. Similar to parlay code, it's more what'd you call "guidelines" than actual rules. Much of this week has been spent frantically searching for index cards in stores so that I can make flashcards before the vocabulary gets out of hand (which it may already be, but I'm going to give it my best effort this weekend).

The good news is that although I feel that I may be slowly slipping further underwater in class, I am starting to understand more of my surroundings. I've been able to pick apart some advertisements on the tram (or at least understand what they are advertising), and on Wednesday I was absurdly excited when a girl behind me answered her phone and bluntly asked "Wo bist du [Where are you]?" Simple enough, but still - small victories.

On the other  hand, I've had two instances this week where I was "spoken" at in German, but never quite reached the conversation stage (not counting my second run in with the sweet lady neighbor, again revolving around laundry). On Monday, I ran for a bus that had already closed its doors, and when I got on, the driver decided to yell back at me about...something. Instructions? Berating me for holding up the bus (they do like their timetables here)? I had no idea, so I just sat down. In an attempt that I marked down as "well-meaning," another passenger in front of me turned around and tried to ...comfort? explain?..., but since it was also in German (and I'm 80% sure it was Swiss German), I just sunk further into my seat and gave more apologetic smiles. The bus driver's admonitions certainly worked on some level - for the rest of the week, I have made sure that I am at least 2 minutes earlier than the posted bus time.

The second instance was a tad less embarrassing, if only because it was not a direct result of my actions. I was waiting on a tram when an older women decided, out of all the people at the stop, that I was to be the lucky recipient of her rant. I'm not sure what it involved, but there were a LOT of numbers in it (some of the few words I can reliably catch), so my guess is that she had been waiting for a while for her tram, while other buses and tram lines have come and gone. I tried nodding but she seemed to want more than that, so I gave a few muttered "Yah, yah"s. The first time, she took it and ran. "YAH!" she agreed, and let a few more sentences fly. The next time she stopped and looked at me, I tried it again, but there was an awkward pause after, as if this was not the expected response. At that point, she may have started to clue in that, in fact, I possessed no understanding of what she was saying. She muttered a few more things and we moved away from each other in a slow, penguin-like shuffle, blissfully stepping through separate doors on the arriving tram.
At least in that case, I felt that the embarrassment was likely shared. 

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