My Deutsch Struggle.

About Four months ago, I relocated to Deutschland! I had mixed feelings of course; how was it going to be? Would I like it? What of the language barrier? Seeing is believing they say; Well, here I am today expected and getting answers to all my questions through experience. I partly regret leaving the amazing Kenyan sun, but despite the ounce of regret I still believe this new journey is totally worth it.

Well let’s talk about my biggest challenge in this integration process; the elephant in the room, Deutsch! To date, I can’t type Deutsch without referring to google or a book, that’s how bad it is… ha ha ha.bellaE

In an integration process, it’s important to learn the local culture especially the language. For everyday communication, to get a job, go to school, make new friends, you must learn the local language of  your new habitat. This is not an easy process as I assumed it would be.

I speak three languages fluently, namely; English, Swahili and Luo. So naturally, you’d expect me to have an easy time learning a fourth one. Contrary to that expectation, I’m having a hell of a hard time learning German. I can only compare it to mathematics and for me, that was and still is only comparable to rocket science. I’m exaggerating a little of course.

DSC_0018 (2)I took a German course for three months back in Kenya, A 1 level which is the very basic beginning and that wasn’t fun. I only learnt how to introduce myself and the very basic words. It was all too much for me to learn and comprehend in three months . Plus I wasn’t practicing after school because, I would speak other languages but German. Lets say I could; whom would I speak with? All my family and friends don’t speak any German.

After the three months elapsed, I had to take an exam which was a visa requirement and the pass mark was 60 out of a possible 100 points. Fair…huh? Guess what? I flopped the exam on my first attempt. Though expected, I felt below par because this course wasn’t cheap and neither was the exam fee! I felt like I really didn’t put in a lot of effort and that was true because I had no interest in learning this language! I had to do it because I was expected to do it and pass. I was under pressure, but that’s not an excuse I wasn’t ready to pass then!

Well, I had exactly One month before my Embassy appointment to retake the exam and knowing what was at stake, I decided to gather all possible reading materials and do some research on the fastest way to learn a new language, German in particular. It wasn’t easy I admit, but I had the will and the interest and that was the first important step. On the second attempt I was confident and prepared for the exam and I did it…I passed and it felt so good I should have done it on the first attempt.

You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once – Czech proverb.

I really thought I was done with the difficult part of learning German, but surprise! It had barely hit the climax, it was just getting started.  I enrolled to a language school and that’s when it all got real. The first month was fairly easy as it was basically introduction and I was good at that. Oh, did I mention that I was on the same boat with other Deutsch newbies? Yes I was, and that was the icing on the cake for me. All of us struggling to make a simple sentence like “I enjoy travelling”, was something I must say! A beautiful mess.

Three months into the course and things are getting more and more complicated by the day. There have been moments when my colleagues and I understood nothing but chose to keep trying. Imagine learning a word as complicated as “Verpflichtungserklärung”  or “Einreiseerlaubnis”. Catastrophe! The more I learn the more confused I get.

Lots of speaking, reading and listening practice is helping me but it’s not as easy as I thought it would before coming here.Most importantly, I know my purpose for learning this language so whenever I feel like giving up, I envision my life being jobless and without a social life and I know that would destroy me so I keep pushing on because I really want to master it and start feeling at home.

Most German words have articles. And these articles are classified into masculine, feminine and neutral.  So there’s a lot of das, der and die which change depending on a couple of grammatical factors which I can’t explain yet, owing to the fact that I’m still learning too. But, it is for sure very complicated how das, der and die become dem, den etc. The grammar part is the most complex aspect for me. In fact, when it comes to German grammar, I wish I had photographic memory.bellaE

Speaking three languages complicates it further. When I learn a new German word, I try to remember is by translating it to all the three languages. Unfortunately, by the time I’m done, the  German word being translated will have long evaporated. ha ha ha. That’s funny, I know.

It’s a tough ride but like every cloud with a silver lining, I’ve been able to meet and make friends from all over the world. Ireland, Colombia, Greece, Turkey, Albania, Syria, Angola, Algeria and Poland; these are the countries my classmates in the Deutsch integration course are from. It’s always a breath of fresh air to be around good people and my classmates are simply amazing. We also have two amazing teachers from Russia and Romania, who make the whole course interesting and worth learning because they were once in our shoes.Bella10

What guides me?

  • Learning a new word daily.
  • Attending classes faithfully.
  • Watching YouTube lessons.
  • Speaking as much German as I can.
  • Above all, I know the importance of this language to me so I’m doing it for a purpose and that really counts.
  • Watching German kids movies and kids books too.

To have a another language is to posses a second soul – Charlemagne.

Learning a new language is hard, especially German. It has been done by many meaning it can be done by any. All you need is a purpose and interest. To anybody out there who speaks fluent German as a foreign language, I respect you! I know I can do this and I’m going to. Good luck to me and everybody out there learning a new language.    Till next time, Tchüss!

Zitat: A different language is a different vision of life. – Federico Fellini

My Wild African Heart

My darling girl, when are you going to realize that being “normal” is not necessarily a virtue? It sometimes rather donates a lack of courage. – Aunt Frances.

afro1When I say wild, I don’t mean unruly, rebellious or violent. Instead, I’m focusing on the very unusual, often in a way that is attractive or exciting; My own kind of wild.

Well, many a time, I get attention without seeking it or even knowing it… talk of still waters running deep. Mostly for good reasons but of course there have been days… especially my teenage years, when I got attention for all the wrong reasons; from sleeping during a Maths class to not attending dawn preps in boarding school and not doing dishes or being home on time…yes, we had a curfew! My father was and still is very strict.

I’ve always been different from my siblings. Not only from physical appearance but also from our attitudes and views on life. My big brother and I somehow share a few common beliefs; especially on hustling or in other words making it on our own in this crazy Universe. I am extremely outspoken, courageous and fast. I vacated my parents house at 21 years of age. I was a third year university student. I loved the idea of the freedom that came with moving out. I didn’t just wake up one morning and announced that I was moving out… Hell no! My father wouldn’t have tolerated that! An internship opportunity availed itself and I jumped on to it without a second thought. That’s how I moved out of my father’s house to my own little nest.

My parents had concerns on how I would cope with life on my own. I was moving to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city and all the relatives I supposedly had in this big city were strangers to me so moving in with a relative was totally out of the question. I mean who would want to jump from the frying pan into the fire?… Not me! I was craving independence. I wanted a life where I wouldn’t be answerable to anyone about my decisions or my moves and wouldn’t have to share a bedroom with my sisters. I wanted privacy and space.

So here I was in the big city. The first two weeks I lived with a very good friend and we shared costs. Then the unexpected happened. My internship, my reason for moving to the capital city, was cancelled or there was a miscommunication; I never followed up. I was disappointed beyond words. So I set out in search of a new internship opportunity. I had come too far to give up and I wasn’t ready to tell my parents what had happened out of the fear of being asked to move back home and as I already stated; that wasn’t an option. I had to prove a point to myself and to my parents that I was ready to face life on my own. I had the will and I knew there had to be a way… and Indeed, there was a way.

Most things I’ve ever wished for in my life (I’m young), mother nature has always found a way of granting me, some in small doses and others in overdoses. Maybe it’s a case of not asking for too much, I don’t know. All I know is; I dream big and I’m a good definition of a dream chaser… Literally. Imagine me in my Five-inch pumps running after my dreams… ha ha ha… funny, I know, but that’s the way I look at it.  When I set out on a mission, I have to achieve my desired outcome.

I’m considered a proud person by many and that’s something I can’t refute 100%. You see, I’m a Kenyan girl, from the Luo tribe and the one thing my people are known for is pride. Secondly, I’m a daddy’s girl and my father raised me up constantly reminding me that I can be and can do anything I desire in this world. He made me feel very special from a very tender age. So I grew up knowing that I’m important and my opinion counts in this world. I call it confidence, not pride. And confidence, I’ve come to learn, is very important on this Planet. Thirdly I am proud because I know what I’ve achieved on my own, despite the longest of nights and the saddest of days, I emerged a winner in my own way. If that’s not something to be proud of, then what is?b

My curiosity is inborn. I was taught to always ask questions and to never go with the flow like dead fish. Growing up, we were expected to use common sense more than anything. Let’s say you were sent for bread but there was no bread in the shop, you’d be expected to buy something else like doughnuts for example.  So from a young age, we were taught about options. Talk of survival tactics ;). Knowing that I had other options helped me so much when I moved to Nairobi. And to date, I’m grateful to my parents for this vital lesson.

There were and will always be other options or plans and thanks to common sense I always remembered that. Sometimes though, I feel like I let myself and my parents down when I fail to explore other available options. For instance when I started living on my own, I would move in and out of apartments like a joke. Every two to three months I would shift apartments and of course lose money in the process and my furniture got damaged. All this could have easily been avoided if I would have taken my time and considered all the available options and picked the best. But this wild heart always led me where it wanted when it felt cornered in a particular apartment…and I let it.

The truth is, My brain has no heart. My heart has no brain. That’s why when I speak my mind I seem heartless and when I do what’s in my heart I seem thoughtless. I’m always looking for something new to show love, compassion and care. So wild, yet so loving. So hot, yet so cold. Beating so fast, yet so compassionate. My current obsessions are writing, cooking and keeping plants. I only have three plants but to me my house feels like a garden. I also have two coriander plants growing beautifully on my kitchen window so that brings the total plant count to five, wow!

I created this blog two years ago and never posted anything all that while. Truth is, I was scared; scared of people’s opinion. Until I recently learnt that; If public opinion were to be decisive there would be no need for constitutional adjudication.  After all, you’re only young once so, do the things you’re afraid to do and the things that make you happy. Party hard, make mistakes and laugh endlessly. Although overindulging is not good. Explore, stretch your wings and fly as high as you can.afro3

Do what you love, there’s a time for everything and we’re all born with different purposes. Find yours and stop wasting your life judging other people’s actions because as you judge; they are living, making mistakes as they go while you’re stuck on your self-proclaimed jury seat.  Jonny Ox said, don’t let the tamed ones tell you how to live, so live your life according to your own terms. Be happy, dance in the rain, love jealously, work hard and in everything you do, give it all you have. Life is not a rehearsal and everyday counts, so love your life.

Wild hearts can’t be tamed. They are wild for a reason. But they can gently be nurtured into loving, learning and enjoying new things. All it takes is patience. I’m a Leo, you know what they say about Leos… “Like lions, Leos tend to  be dignified and strong and it’s this sense of power that allows them to get things done.” I’m an example of a nurtured  wild heart; guided by the spirit and not driven by Ego, I am rooted but I flow.

Like every normal human being, I have fears;

  1. Crawling creatures… To imagine that some people own them as pets! I’ve tried facing my fear by watching crawling creatures like lizards up close without screaming but that didn’t work…as expected. I also think manual cars are annoying but well, when you go to Rome you do as the Romans do.
  2. Failure. I believe nobody Fails. You either win or learn.
  3. Death. It comes with no notice but when it strikes it hurts to the bones. I guess it’s a fear everyone has to live with for nobody knows the time nor the hour.

The world is a cruel place, but I let my wild African heart guide me. So far so good! My parting short is simple…

  1. Embrace who you are to the core and love yourself.
  2. Make the best out of your life. Set standards and expect them to be met.
  3. Never settle for second best because you were born to be a star, to shine bright.
  4. Don’t let anyone or any situation dim your sparkle and above all fight for your dreams.
  5. Trust your instincts.
  6. Respect everyone irrespective of their gender, color, religion or political views.
  7. Make love, not war.

Zitat: Why fit in when you were born to stand out?