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High school German to C2 in 3 months!

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irishpolyglot
Nonaglot
Senior Member
Ireland
fluentin3months
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285 posts - 892 votes 
Speaks: Irish, English*, French, Esperanto, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Sign Language
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 9 of 73
30 March 2010 at 6:01pm | IP Logged 
@Judith Thanks for those, I've already got an apartment (only took me an hour ;) ) but I'll check out the GermanPod for other tips!

So, it's time for the next update:
***********
DAY TWO: Complications in buying a SIM card
***********


I am now in Berlin!! I love it here; am very glad I made this decision! :)

I am happy to report that a HUGE amount of what I did today has been entirely in German :D Excluding talking to one American, I have indeed done everything all day (off the PC) in German.

I started very easy, just with good morning and thanks over breakfast at the hostel, and then went out to run some important errands that are necessary when moving to a new country.

First thing was to get an apartment. This was the only thing I did in English, simply because the landlord is American. The first place I saw was perfect so I took it (move in tomorrow).

Then I went to the Tourist Information to buy a map, and ask about prices for monthly public transport tickets. This was my first proper German conversation.

I was worried that I would have to fall back to English, especially when asking at the Tourist Information where they would of course speak it, but he was quite patient with my umming and struggles to say something. Just before the conversation, I looked up a few words in preparation and wasn't caught out by his responses. I thought that they would immediately change the conversation to English, but seeing that I am genuinely trying has kept everyone speaking German with me so far.

Next was much more complicated; buying a SIM card. This isn't a simple case of asking for one, paying, and leaving, because I wanted to know exactly how much everything costs, especially 3G Internet access (so I can check work e-mails when not at home). I first spent 10 minutes in the Vodafone shop to get a prepaid card, but after going through the whole official process, the clerk realised that I can't even use full Internet on my iPhone so we cancelled it. We had tried a few things, and I was struggling to understand his instructions, but CONTEXT helped me where not knowing actual vocabulary failed.

For example he was describing some type of list to go through and made it to... "Netzwek, Mobiles Datennetzwerk" and I recognised these (from the similarity to English) to "Network, Cellular Data Network" and knew that to get to these on my iPhone I had to click "Settings, General" first. He would have said those two words but not understanding them didn't stop me from performing what he was requesting.

Next I went to T-mobile store and asked straight away about the iPhone Internet options. It seems none of them have a flat rate (great news: "Flat rate" is how they say it in German! I picked this up from the first guy) and charge per kB, which I didn't like at all.

Finally in the O2 store I saw that a contract is the best way to go. He assured me that I can cancel it a month before I leave and receive an invoice by mail that I can pay in person, so I don't actually need a German bank account as I had thought. Once again, lots of words I didn't understand here, but the context made so many things obvious. At one point I did give up and asked him to say something in English, but he said he didn't speak any! So he explained around until I understood, so the conversation did stay in German!

I made sure to have a pleasant smile and to apologise for my level of German, with anyone I talked to more than briefly and they all complimented me and gave me great encouragement. I was totally expecting to have to battle to speak German, but the low level of English of people working in the mobile phone shops worked to my advantage. This successful first day trying has given me great confidence; a good first day is hugely important to keep up the momentum!!

Despite that, it's also shown me LOTS that I need to work on, so I'll be studying for the rest of the day ;)

Edited by irishpolyglot on 30 March 2010 at 6:17pm

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Arekkusu
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Canada
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 Message 10 of 73
30 March 2010 at 6:08pm | IP Logged 
irishpolyglot wrote:
I am happy to report that a HUGE amount of what I did today has been entirely in German :D Excluding talking to one American, I have indeed done everything all day (off the PC) in German.

That's great, but now you need to stop using the computer in English whenever you can!
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irishpolyglot
Nonaglot
Senior Member
Ireland
fluentin3months
Joined 3683 days ago

285 posts - 892 votes 
Speaks: Irish, English*, French, Esperanto, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Sign Language
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 11 of 73
30 March 2010 at 6:14pm | IP Logged 
@Arekkusu
My computer is already entirely in German ;) This is how I changed it.
If you mean writing posts online, I quite enjoy writing in English, but don't enjoy speaking it. So most of my writing will always be in English no matter how immersed I am. However, I am (right now actually) chatting in MSN auf Deutsch and have a twitter account in German too, so I will be practising somewhat. I'll start writing much more when I consider that aspect of the C2 exam, but for the moment I am focused on speaking.
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Sprachprofi
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Germany
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 Message 12 of 73
30 March 2010 at 8:42pm | IP Logged 
I'm a bit worried you may have been ripped off about the apartment or the phone
contract, because Germans are not likely to conclude things this fast.

Apartments are unbelievably cheap in Berlin, for example around 500 Euros a month for
55 square metres in the very center, and decreasing still as you approach the "ring" of
the circle tram line.

Also, according to Chuck, who is an iPhone developer, the only company to offer a
useable internet flatrate for iPhone is Simyo (10 Euros a month), while all the bigger
companies' contracts are 12 months or 24 months minimum... of course you can cancel
after 3 months, but you have to pay 50% of the remaining months' fees or something like
that.

Really surprised you concluded everything within the same day, not looking into
things at all. You're not a Berliner yet!

Edited by Sprachprofi on 30 March 2010 at 8:47pm

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irishpolyglot
Nonaglot
Senior Member
Ireland
fluentin3months
Joined 3683 days ago

285 posts - 892 votes 
Speaks: Irish, English*, French, Esperanto, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Sign Language
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 13 of 73
30 March 2010 at 9:05pm | IP Logged 
@Judith
Before coming to Berlin I had asked several friends and never got any useful information about the phones regarding Internet rates (I had messaged Chuck on facebook a few times but he musn't use FB chat much) and in Berlin I went into 4 different shops, listening to all the various options before taking the one I liked best, which I'm genuinely happy with. I confirmed with the O2 dealer that there will be no problem or it won't be expensive to cancel one month before I leave. There will be no 12-month cancellation fees involved - I don't know where you are getting your information from.

And how am I getting ripped off for the apartment?? I don't even remember telling anyone HOW MUCH I'm paying for it - why are you presuming that I'm paying lots?? You jumped to quite a lot of conclusions in your response I have to say! They are super cheap in Berlin, if you plan on staying long term, and definitely if you don't need it furnished. Despite this I'm not far off the price you quoted and my apartment has several extra benefits that most I saw don't.

There were loads of even cheaper deals I had seen, but even if they were furnished, they were just studios (which I didn't want because I'll be hosting people and would like both of us to have privacy), and did NOT come with Internet. I don't want to go through the bureaucracy of setting up an Internet connection and have to wait several days (or longer since Easter is coming up) for it to be activated.

I've been constantly replying to flat advertisements on the major websites over the last 2 weeks so I have a good idea of the prices and what's available, and I'm very happy with what I've got in the end and definitely don't feel "ripped off". Don't forget that I've moved into dozens of apartments before :P Anyway, the price I'm paying is very good and I'll tell you in person if you like.

If the Berliner way is to "look into things" for weeks or months, being needlessly meticulous rather than getting efficiently set up as quickly as possible then no, I'm not a Berliner yet... maybe Berliners don't have the knack I do for getting settled quickly ;) In which case I'll have to lose it :D
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Sprachprofi
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Germany
learnlangs.comRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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 Message 14 of 73
30 March 2010 at 11:13pm | IP Logged 
The reason I was suspicious is because people don't generally rush like that about
giving up their apartments here unless there's something wrong with the apartment or
the contract. Chuck and I also had to find an apartment really quickly, but after
finding the right apartment, it took a couple more days to get all the documents ready
(old landlord certifying we didn't have outstanding debt, employer certifying we'd be
able to afford the rent, guarantor certifying we'd pay it...) and even then rental
companies only have two set dates per month on which their people are ready to come out
to show you into your apartment and complete all the moving-in formalities. Maybe you
just hit one of those dates, but it still sets off a hundred alarm clocks when German
bureaucrats do something quickly.

According to Chuck you never brought up the issue of iPhone phone contracts, and when
he researched alternatives to his soon-to-expire T-Mobile iPhone contract, O2 didn't
enter the shortlist though he can't remember the reason now. You should also be aware
that employees of phone companies can't be trusted to tell you the truth about
contracts, 4 out of 5 times I talked to one they left out vital information or
downright lied, and Chuck had to pay off two two-year contracts (the kind that
activates automatically as you receive the letter) with two different companies even
though I heard him state very clearly several times that he only wanted information and
NOT A CONTRACT. Anything related to phone services is an unsavoury swamp in Germany and
you can only trust the wording of the contract.

Quote:
If the Berliner way is to "look into things" for weeks or months, being
needlessly meticulous rather than getting efficiently set up as quickly as possible
then no, I'm not a Berliner yet... maybe Berliners don't have the knack I do for
getting settled quickly ;) In which case I'll have to lose it :D

I'm sorry I cared.

Edited by Sprachprofi on 30 March 2010 at 11:15pm

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doviende
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Canada
languagefixatio
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 Message 15 of 73
30 March 2010 at 11:32pm | IP Logged 
This is all very interesting to hear, about 5 months before I hit Berlin. I'm hoping to find a room in a shared place with some other people, so maybe I can avoid some of the bureaucracy by dealing with the people living in a place instead of their landlord.

Benny, I'm interested to hear more about what you're studying in preparation for week 1. Working on vocab mostly? Or working through a phrasebook for the common things?
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irishpolyglot
Nonaglot
Senior Member
Ireland
fluentin3months
Joined 3683 days ago

285 posts - 892 votes 
Speaks: Irish, English*, French, Esperanto, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Sign Language
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 16 of 73
31 March 2010 at 12:03am | IP Logged 
@Judith Your response is confusing. I'm just telling you I wasn't ripped off for either the apartment or the SIM card. If the O2 guy lied to me then I guess I'm screwed! But your claims that they mislead you "4 out of 5 times" is hard to swallow. Sorry, but I find that way too cynical. Are you trying to tell me there are no business ethics in Berlin? I appreciate your concern, but I wouldn't have rushed into decisions like a place to live if I wasn't sure that everything was legit. I make my decisions quickly, but that doesn't mean they aren't after important consideration and lots of experience in similar situations.

Please discuss the phone and apartment issue with me further on facebook or in person if you wish, this is going needlessly off topic.

@doviende Finding a shared room is extremely simple in Berlin, and generally avoids lots of bureaucracy from what I'm told. You won't have any problems! Since I was looking for a furnished short-term apartment with very specific preferences, it complicated matters a lot.

I'm mostly reviewing grammar that I would have learned years ago and relearning some basic vocabulary. I'll be studying a lot tomorrow too because from Thursday most of my day for almost a week (since I'm taking time off work) will be spent socialising with Germans and actually speaking. As you know, I don't put much time into sitting at home and studying in these missions ;)

Edited by irishpolyglot on 31 March 2010 at 11:31am



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