Week 3 found me deep in learning the German language. Grammar and vocabulary in the morning and then a tutorial in the afternoon where we basically reviewed and practiced what we learned in the morning. I noticed that I was extremely tired at the end of the day and not physically tired but mentally exhausted. I wondered if any of the other students were feeling the same or if it was just my age that made me so tired. I asked around and without exception the other students said they felt the same. This was something that I remember being told about in our orientations, but I didn’t realize just how tired I would be. Someone brought this up in a class and it was pointed out to us that of course you are mentally tired at the end of a full day. When you are learning a new language, you are using a part of your brain that isn’t used for ANYTHING else except learning a new language. And in an intensive environment like we are learning we are using that part of the brain to the max. We were told that it would be at least a month before we became used to this and didn’t feel so tired.
During the third week we also had our first test and that was a real shock for me. In all my other courses I’ve gotten As and Bs, but on this first test, I barely got a C. In other classes, I read the material, do the assignments and can count on at least a B (and that’s if I am, for me goofing off). Learning a language doesn’t work quite like that. The grammar concepts were easy enough for me to get a handle on, but that has to be backed up by rote memorization of words and verb conjugations and articles, etc… etc..
I used to have a good memory for rote memorization when I was younger, and while I still have a good memory in general, not when it comes to rote memorization. I found that I was spending three to five times as much time on homework as I did on any other class and was making Cs instead of As. Now don’t take this as a complaint, it’s not, just a report of the facts. I expected this to be a lot of work and it is. I am also really glad that I applied for this program.
As far as the studying goes this is an area where my age seems to be a factor. While the other students (all of which are 19, 20 and 21) aren’t exactly having an easy time of it, they don’t spend near as much time on homework as I do and get better grades. At 56, I feel like I am constantly in catch-up mode. I also learned that while I only had two terms of college German before coming here some of the students have had more. A number of them took German in high school. That actually made me feel better, less incompetent. In any case I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything; hard work is good for the soul.
The highlight of week three was a hike to Wurlmlinger Kapelle and the small town of Pfäffingen. Wulmlinger Kappele, or Chapel is on the top of a hill in the Neckar valley that affords a great view of the surrounding area. Here is a picture of the chapel from a ridge line near bay:
These are some pictures from the top, looking at the surrounding area:
We finished the hike by hiking down the hill and into the town of Pfäffington and to Silvia Kunze-Ritter’s house where we were treated to an excellent Swabian dinner. As well as good conversation and an all around great time. We then walked to the train station and took a train back to Tübingen. The hike, someone said was about 13 kilometers. I think that was pretty close and it was easy going terrain and a pleasant day with wonderful weather. Although slightly physical it was somehow relaxing after the mentally exhausting week we had just had.