23 October, 2016

An Update and a Success Story

Photo: Pixabay

It's been quite some time (even longer than usual) since I've sat down to write a blog post. I can't really explain this extended dry spell, except that it's simply due to a lack of motivation. Writing isn't something I like to force myself to do when I don't feel enthusiastic about it, so I cut myself some slack and let it slide.

As a result, a lot has happened in the past several months that has gone undocumented on this blog. I finished my third semester of grad school, got married in Copenhagen (yay for casually dropping big news!), visited my family in the United States, and just this week started my fourth semester of grad school.

Blog posts about some of those things will follow, but for today I just want to ramble a bit about an experience I had this week. As I mentioned, I just started a new semester of grad school. That meant moving back into my dorm in Hildesheim, where I hadn't been since the end of July. I had mixed feelings about going back. On one hand, most of the feelings were negative because heading back to Hildesheim meant leaving my newlywed husband (I still haven't gotten used to calling him that) in Hamburg, but on the other hand, since I only have three classes this semester I only have to be in Hildesheim Monday through Wednesday, so it's not like we'll be separated for very long.

In an attempt to keep the negative feelings at bay, I've decided to try to fill my spare time with productive activities. In addition to classes, this means doing homework in the library, tutoring, and spending time with friends. And one other thing that I've been putting off for the past three semesters: working out.

The university offers a fairly extensive range of sports and fitness-related activities. Every semester I glance over the list of offerings, tell myself that such-and-such looks interesting and that I should go to it every week, and then proceed to never go. Up until now it's been a combination of apprehension about attending such a class in German and just plain laziness that has kept me away, but this semester a new activity was announced that piqued my interest: a martial arts fitness class. I've never done any sort of martial arts before, but for some reason the class sounded really fun and I decided to go.

And guess what? I actually went!

Afterwards, I was really glad I had gone. Despite the fact that I am woefully out of shape and was sore for three days afterwards, it was nice to get my body moving again. And then some time later, almost as an afterthought, it occurred to me: concern about the class being taught in German had never even crossed my mind. Laziness had almost swung the decision the other way, with my desire to get in better shape and my confusion about which workout clothes to wear also weighing in, but the language piece hadn't factored into my decision at all.

I'm not sure if writing it out like that emphasizes just how big of a deal this is for me. Basically every plan or decision I've made since moving to Germany has been at least partially influenced by which language will be spoken, and knowing that exclusively German will be spoken in a certain social situation or at a certain event has often caused me an unreasonable amount of distress. Making the decision to willingly enter an unknown situation where English wouldn't be an option and not even thinking about the language aspect is definitely a milestone for me.

If you've been reading my blog for a while you will know that, despite my fluency, the German language continues to present challenges for me. After all, three years ago I didn't speak any German at all! But going to this fitness class without even a hint of linguistic anxiety has reminded me that I am still making progress, even if I've had a hard time seeing it. And it has given me hope that all of the seemingly insignificant events that happen in my daily life will someday actually feel insignificant, even if they happen in German.

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