One of the most amazing aspects of my current life is my ability to do, well, just about anything my fevered brain can dream up. This surfeit of freedom occasionally gives me a whiff of existential vertigo, but most of the time I try to balance this good fortune with some minor paid employment and sincere efforts to do good in the world in ways large and small.
Travel has been an enormous part of this freedom over the past two years, as evidenced by the vast majority of this blog’s postings, but this time the travel comes with an added twist. Starting May 2nd and lasting until the end of the month, I will be studying in an intensive German language program back in Berlin, a city that has clearly rocketed to celebrity status in my urban pantheon.
In truth, the main reason for this adventure is a chance to spend more time in Berlin outside the charmingly cocooned tourist environments of cozy hotels and stunning museums. This is not to say that a student’s life bears any resemblance to the realities under which most of the world labors, but only that I will have a fixed schedule, some actual deliverables, moderately uncomfortable pressure, and a more “day-to-day” life than I have had during my visits in the past.
Using every ounce of rationalization still left to me, I will also argue that being back in the classroom from the student side offers two pedagogic opportunities. One is the chance to watch other people do what I do, and that is teach a second language. I hope to pick up some new techniques and perhaps correct some current habits or patterns that are less that helpful. The other is to have the often humbling experience of being a beginner again, remembering for myself the frustrating “deer in headlights” sense of not understanding what is going on around me coupled with having the oral prowess of a two-year-old on a good day.
In addition to blogging during my school daze, I hope to start writing a more focused piece comparing my intensive language program experiences from Germany to Japan and back to the USA from my PSU days. I’ll keep you in the loop if I manage that achievement.
So fasten your seat belts and get ready for a month in the life of a language learner, Berlin style. Along the way I’m sure there will be some interesting tales to tell. Auf Wiedersehen für jetzt! (Goodbye for now!)