Noble, Joshua

Name: Joshua Noble
Location of Study: Germany
Program of Study: German
Sponsor(s): Robert Berner

6 thoughts on “Noble, Joshua

  1. I arrived in Schwäbish Hall two days ago, but I am already beginning to feel at home in this town. Schwäbisch Hall is small, and the people here both in the Goethe Institute and outside of it have been quite friendly. My classes have been challenging, but it is encouraging to see that I am already substantially more comfortable communicating in German after just a short period of time. Tomorrow, I plan to attend a daily Mass in town, something I hope to do most days. This will help me learn the Mass responses in German, but it will also be a good chance to interact with the local community outside of the Goethe Institute staff and students. In the meantime, I have a long list of irregular verbs to drill!

  2. I am amazed at how much easier it is speaking in German today than a week ago! I have learned a good bit of grammar and vocabulary, but the most valuable part of this experience thus far has been being forced to regularly communicate in German, and only in German. My tongue has been freed. I am very glad at having chosen a small town to study in. I am terrible with directions, but I can find my way around town easily; more importantly, I feel relatively at home here, drinking coffee in the cafes, shopping in the markets, etc. I have now made my way to three German masses, and these are becoming more familiar as well, as I pick up on the differences from American masses (more singing, less air conditioning!) There is a fascinating variety among the students, with approximately 70 different nationalities represented among a relatively small number of students. One can go a whole day without hearing much if any English spoken (though Spanish is another matter, strangely enough). If my pace of improvement continues, I will be extremely happy with my stay here.

  3. This past weekend was the annual trip to Berlin, and it was an enjoyable and educational, if somewhat tiring, experience. Our stay was relatively brief, but we took a bus tour that introduced us to the major points of interest, and in our free time we were able to further explore what interested us individually. There was unfortunately not a large enough block of time available to visit Berlin’s famous ancient history museums, but I found myself repeatedly drawn to the Holocaust Memorial, which was only a couple of blocks from our hostel. As a city, Berlin seems to wake up about the time that I go to bed, but that meant that early in the morning I had the city almost to myself; at 7:30 am on Saturday, I was able to enjoy a cup of coffee almost in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate without a person in sight. Later in the day, I was almost trampled by a very enthusiastic parade of youthful supporters of pot legalization, some several thousand strong, making me glad to return to the smaller, sleepier town of Schwäbish Hall. The trip did offer several good opportunities for trying out my German (still a little shaky, it seems), as well as providing a broader experience of German culture.

  4. My time is Schwäbisch Hall is drawing to an end. While I am extremely eager to return and see my family again, leaving will be a little bittersweet. My experience in Germany has been different than any other trip that I have taken to a foreign country; while I feel a tourist when I travel to other German cities, when I come back to Schwäbisch Hall it feels a little like returning home, something that I have not experienced overseas before. Going to mass here continues to be a good way of entering the local culture. On the feast of the Assumption of Mary, many of the congregants brought small bouquets of home-grown flowers and herbs. These were then blessed and sprinkled by the priest at the end of mass, and picked back up by those who brought them. This tradition is called “Kräuterweihe,” and it is apparently over a thousand years old. My German learning efforts seem to have been successful; today my teacher recommended that I advance 3 levels for my next German class. I think he is overly optimistic, but I was happy to receive some external acknowledgement of progress. While I still feel somewhat slow and awkward in my speech, I am well removed from the tongue-tied state in which I first arrived.

  5. It’s the last day of my Goethe Institute course, and I would give the program a solid recommendation. The teaching methods and materials are similar to those that I have experienced in other German courses, but being constantly surrounded by German speakers and being forced to interact in German throughout the day are an invaluable help. I do have one ‘heretical’ piece of advice derived from my time here this past month. When I arrived in Germany, I was determined to only speak German, and I followed this strictly for the first half of the course. Unfortunately, when one’s German is of an intermediate level like mine, there is only so deep in conversation that one can competently go. I found myself having lots of “small talk” style conversations, but little that went beyond. For me, this made for a very lonely experience. Halfway through, I modified my approach. I of course spoke only in German in class, and outside class at least half of my interactions with other students remained in German, but I allowed myself some English conversation when there was a mutual desire for deeper discussion. This improved my enjoyment of my time in Germany dramatically, and I don’t think that it severely hampered my German development. Of course, if one is able to converse deeply in German, or if German is the best common language between certain students (and this was the case with some of my acquaintances), go for it. One certainly should avoid switching German off completely outside of class, but an adamant refusal to utter a word of English may not always be the best choice for everyone. Perhaps I’m wrong, but those are my two cents.