This week I learned about religion in Germany during “Lernstudio”. Almost all public holidays in Germany are actually church holidays, with many of the German people being Christians. For the most part, the local Germans all know their public holidays because they are avid church goers and thus recognize these holidays by their formal names, such as Corpus Christi from a few weeks back. Younger children do not seem to understand the religious background of the holidays, but in general most people are well aware of which holidays are which. My teacher had given a pretty detailed explanation of Corpus Christi; it is a solely Catholic holiday and is not always considered a public holiday in northern Germany. He explained that the southern part of Germany tends to be more Catholic than other regions, and many of the cities in the south have parades on Corpus Christi to celebrate. I remember I went to mass on Corpus Christi, which they celebrated outside in the town center. It was mostly older people and children that came with their parents. There are no public holidays coming up, so I asked a few local people about Corpus Christi, since it had been the most recent. While my teacher had given a very formal background of the holiday, the public holidays are typically considered time to spend with family. Most people do not have to work on public holidays, so they can spend time with their loved ones. Plenty of the students staying with host families mentioned barbecuing together or just having a large meal in general. In that sense, the public holidays are very different in their religious background as compared to the actual meaning for the people who celebrate them.
I believe my speaking has improved quite a bit, because I have less people switching to English when they hear me speak. It makes me happy that I am improving, and I am now very comfortable ordering food, making casual conversation, and contributing in class. I still think I need to learn more words, but that is something I need to continuously work on. I have bought a couple books in German and am struggling my way through them; I learn many new words this way. I have also made it a habit to look up words in advertisements or signs I see that I do not understand. I hate having to rely on my phone as a dictionary, but it is quite convenient. My little notebook with words I had not known grows bigger each and everyday, and I am very proud of it. In hindsight, I feel that staying with a host family would have been very beneficial in terms of improving my speaking, as the guesthouse is not always occupied. I still try to go out and find people to speak with instead, but it would probably have been easier to manage with a host family.
I also visited a friend in Lucerne, Switzerland this weekend and I had a little trouble adjusting to the Swiss German. It was also harder to engage in German because so many people just spoke English there. I saw the Lion of Lucerne as well as a rainbow, due to the constant drizzle. When I arrived back in Radolfzell, I felt so blessed to be here. Lucerne was a large city, full of tourists, noise, and English speakers. It was beautiful, but had such a different feeling from Radolfzell. Here in Radolfzell, everything is peaceful, and while most people can speak English, they typically stick with German. I grow even fonder of the language as I hear locals speak it; my tongue always feels so clumsy trying to pronounce certain German words, but it sounds so effortless and smooth when a local says it. Although my days here have become relatively routine, I still feel so excited and so lucky to experience life in Germany.