Trip Start May 05, 2008
119Trip End May 05, 2013
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My German course has been great! I completed my initial 4 weeks and my German improved rapidly. I was doing the A2 level (beginner to intermediate). All classes are auf Deutsch and Deutsch becomes a common language when speaking with other students outside of class. I was the only native English speaker although most of my class mates could converse very well in English too. The course is well rounded and all the material is very current and set in the context of Berlin. I struggled with the grammar and basic language terminology to begin with but it comes. I found that my vocabulary was pretty good and I could explain a broad range of topics albeit with dodgy grammar and sentence structure. The school also does a teach German as a foreign language intensive 1 month course. They require students for this so I signed up for another 4 weeks for free. I had a lot of fun and every Friday we would all head to a pub / bistro around the corner and have a drink or two. We had one rule, we must all speak German for the first drink. I learnt as much from the other students as I did from the classes. I also found that by focusing on the language full time to begin with gives you an enormous confidence boost on a day to day basis. My advice to anybody moving to Berlin is to double down on the language in the beginning because once you start working you will likely be using English a lot and will have less time for learning German.
Angie has been having a bit of a rough time of it though. She was working as an OP Schwester (theater nurse) in a hospital in Weisensee (10 mins north on the tram from us). The working atmosphere was terrible and she was thrown into it. There was no time to learn the ropes and colleagues would scream and shout and basically belittle and break her down whenever she made a mistake. Hospitals here are short of nurses especially theater nurses. However, there is an older contingent that seem to resent new starters, have no idea how to mentor and take this hard-line sink or swim approach where they do there best to drown you. Angie lasted one week then they sent her to the sterilization unit for a week to learn the instruments (1 day is usually enough and you don't really learn anything). She was so unhappy there that she handed in her notice after the 2nd week. They were quite surprised and didn't realize how easily she was able to walk into another job. They told her that you need to be a tough old mare more or less in-order to work in theater in Berlin and that maybe it wasn't for her. Angie moved from ward to theater nursing in Wellington and she was very capable. She works well in a good team where there is support when you need it. Angie could write several pages on her experience her so far.
Meanwhile, my job search has been a bit on and off. Angie's work experiences and our overall lack of commitment so far has mean't that one week I am very motivated to look for work and get setup and then the next week I don't know if we are staying or going. Angie is increasingly unhappy here and cannot enjoy or get into the life in Berlin. We have come to realize that we actually had a great life in Wellington and that is where we need to be. I thought we could return to Europe, live here for a few years and then return to NZ. However, this is just another excuse not to put down roots. We now can't decide what to do and have been in this in-between state for weeks. It is driving us crazy. We both know the right decision for us is to return to NZ where we know we will both be happy. On the other hand it is hard on our families, they never expected us to return and now we have and we have given hope that we will stay. They feel we haven't given Germany a chance yet. They are right but what is the point when you know where you need to be? This is the hardest part of making our decision.
NZ is just so far away.