AlOlaf's Log (Danish/German/Norwegian)

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Kat
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Re: AlOlaf's Log (Danish/German/Norwegian)

Postby Kat » Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:47 am

Lieber AlOlaf, ich wünsche dir ebenfalls eine schöne Reise und viel Erfolg bei der Prüfung. Glück brauchst du diesmal nicht, denke ich. ;)
Und mach dir nicht zu viel Stress, damit du die Tage in Deutschland auch genießen kannst.

Zur Vorbereitung noch eine kleine Korrektur: „Würdig“ erfordert den Genitiv.

... des Zeugnisses würdig...

Mehr Beispiele für die Verwendung gibt es im Duden unter Bedeutung Nr. 2.

Geändert: Tippfehler
Last edited by Kat on Mon Sep 30, 2019 8:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Nogon
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Re: AlOlaf's Log (Danish/German/Norwegian)

Postby Nogon » Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:59 am

Viel Erfolg, AlOlaf!

Ich würde ja Schwedisch empfehlen. Im Gegensatz zu den Dänen schlucken die Schweden ihre Kartoffeln erst runter, bevor sie sprechen. ;)
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AlOlaf
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Re: AlOlaf's Log (Danish/German/Norwegian)

Postby AlOlaf » Mon Sep 30, 2019 7:43 pm

@Kat und Nogon: Ich danke euch für eure sehr willkommene muttersprachliche Unterstützung!
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AlOlaf
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Re: AlOlaf's Log (Danish/German/Norwegian)

Postby AlOlaf » Wed Oct 23, 2019 11:59 am

I recently went to Germany for two weeks. While I was there, I took the Goethe C2 exam for the second time and saw some of the eastern part of the country.

I didn’t pass the exam. I failed the listening comprehension module, which, ironically enough, was the one I had been the least worried about. Here are my results:

Lesen: 60 ausreichend
Hören: 56 nicht bestanden
Schreiben: 81 gut
Sprechen: 95 sehr gut

While preparing for the exam, my primary goal had been to make sure I clearly understood the instructions for sections two and three of the reading module. I had confused these two sections the first time I took the test in 2012, so my main concern was not to screw it up again. Incredibly, I screwed it up again, and in exactly the same way I had before: I lost my mind and got sections two and three mixed up. And, just as before, I realized my error much too late. I managed to go back and change all the wrong answers, but by then I only had enough time to fly through the rest of the module and hope I was getting something right.

I have no explanation for this ungodly gaffe. It may be that I’m just not good at taking tests, but I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility that I’m a brain-fogged geezer who’s deluded himself into thinking he’s still capable of high-level cognitive achievement. Either way, despite my deja vu mental train wreck, I squeaked by in reading with the lowest possible passing score, only slightly worse than my previous grade of 63.

Listening comprehension was a shock. I couldn’t believe how little I understood. My initial impression was that it was a lot harder than the time before, when I’d passed with 74, but now I think inadequate preparation just made it seem that way. I’d spent six of the seven years between exams listening to almost nothing but Danish and only started listening to German again five months prior to the exam. My German listening consisted mostly of watching documentaries, whose leisurely paced and clearly enunciated narration did little to ready me for the rapid, idiomatic exam audio. In contrast, leading up to the first exam, I spent five straight years studying German like a maniac and listened to any and everything I could get my hands on.

In the writing section, I decided not to take the literature option, even though I’d read one of the selected novels. Instead, I chose a theme having to do with learning in the schools, a subject I have an opinion on. Whenever I write, whether it be in English or in German, I tend to make a lot of changes, and I was worried that the many crossed-out words in my essay might hurt me, but I guess that wasn’t the case; I ended up improving on my previous score of 71.

In the speaking section, I bettered the 85 I got the first time, which would seem to indicate I’m making progress. That’s gratifying, and it takes some of the bitterness out of blowing the certificate.

I’ve removed the C2 designation for German from my profile. Whatever my level is now, it’s clearly not C2.

The trip went something like this: I flew into Berlin on a ‪Monday morning‬ and, for some reason, I thought there’d be a train from the airport to the main station. After wandering around for awhile, I concluded there wasn’t and went outside, where a crowd of people was milling around on the sidewalk. I saw a bus go by, noticed that the people around me were holding tickets, and reasoned that this must be a bus stop. Not seeing a ticket machine anywhere, I had no choice but to do something that always makes me cringe: I had to go up to a stranger and ask for information. I selected an elderly lady, steeled myself, and said, “Excuse me.” The lady turned around, not with the startled/alarmed expression I was expecting, but with a kind, smiling countenance, and said “Yes, please?”

I was so surprised, I almost forgot what I was going to ask her. After a moment, I got out, “Can you please tell me where I can buy bus tickets?” The lady took my arm and guided me to the ticket machine, which didn’t take long, because I’d been standing right next to it. She showed me how it worked and told me to validate my ticket as soon as I got on. I thanked her, and she disappeared into the crowd. When the bus came, I saw her again, a little ahead of me. She turned around, found me in the crowd and smiled at me before getting on.

That was the first of many times I had to go up to somebody on this trip, and not once did anyone act startled or put out. This may not seem like a big deal, but to me, as a stranger in a strange land, it meant a lot.

I checked into the hotel, which was right next to the central station, and went to see if I could figure out which train/subway combination would get me to the language school in Kreuzberg, where I was to have individual tutoring Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation for the exam on Thursday. I’d had some experience with Berlin’s public transport during my visit the previous year, so it wasn’t hard.

The next day, Tuesday, I started my lessons. The school was tucked away in a little courtyard in a bohemian/hipster neighborhood, and it felt more like sitting around in somebody’s cozy living room than being in a class. My teacher was an extremely energetic, pixie-like little woman who encouraged me to speak freely while she unobtrusively made notes. After an hour and a half of this, we took a break and spent the next hour and a half going over my mistakes.

When I booked the course, I had been under the impression that the lady was a native German speaker, so I kind of freaked out when I discovered shortly before the trip that she had been born in the USA. I needn’t have worried, though. She had grown up bilingual Italian/English, which meant she had developed that special kind of compartmentalized brain that enables bilingual people to quickly learn additional languages and speak them like a native. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought she was German.

The next day, Wednesday, followed the same pattern as the first. I noticed I was thinking in German more and turning thoughts into sentences faster. I wondered if that would be enough for the exam.

The next day, Thursday, I found out it wasn’t. The exam took pretty much all day, with the speaking module in the morning, followed by a four-hour break, then the other three modules back to back in the afternoon. I couldn’t be sure until I got the results, but my gut told me I hadn’t passed.

After the exam, I felt like I’d had the wind knocked out of me, but I decided not to let that dampen my enthusiasm for being in Germany. ‪On Friday morning‬, I took the train to Dresden, where I’d booked a hotel for a week. It would be my home base for short train trips around what had once been Communist Germany.

On Saturday, I had two German language walking tours, one in the morning in Dresden and one in the afternoon in Leipzig; thanks to Germany’s fast and (mostly) reliable ICE trains, everything went off without a hitch. I‘d bought a first class rail pass, good for 10 days travel in Germany, which meant I could get on any train whenever I felt like it, although I did have to make seat reservations for some of the more popular ICE trains.

First up was Dresden: I’d had a walking tour of the city the year before (with the same nice German lady), but this time we visited a place called Das Grüne Gewölbe (the green vault), where they keep all the precious royal knick-knacks amassed by German monarchs over the centuries. I’d always had the idea that people who lived in the 1500s and 1600s were primitive, what with doctors bleeding sick people and drilling holes in their heads and so on, but what I saw on display at this place was anything but primitive. Among other things, there was a model sailing ship carved entirely out of ivory (including the paper-thin, curved sails!) and a clock that worked by dropping a dinky little ball into a downward spiraling rail. Somehow they’d figured out how to get the ball to take exactly one minute to reach the bottom, and on its way down, delicately carved knights and maidens would pop out and dance around. Man, did I ever underestimate these people. Nobody makes stuff like that anymore.

Next up was Leipzig, a city I was very curious about. I immediately liked the vibe there, and my guide, a very agreeable young German man, told me about the city‘s history as we strolled around. New to me, for example, was the fact that Leipzig had at one time been a global trading center for animal pelts. I gawked at the church where Bach had once played the organ and walked in the steps of the 70,000 Germans who, on the night of October 9th, 1989, took to the streets to demonstrate against the Communist regime. In so doing, they risked being mowed down by the government’s heavily armed police and military units, which thankfully didn’t happen, but easily could have. This demonstration (and others like it) served as a catalyst for the fall of the wall and, ultimately, of the Communist government itself. I got all tingly knowing I was walking exactly where those brave people had walked.

The next day, Sunday, I took a train to Chemnitz and gawked at the gigantic bronze Karl Marx head they have there. On the way back to Dresden, the train stopped at a little town called Tharandt. It looked so idyllic and quintessentially German that I wanted to get out and look around, but I didn‘t know if or when another train would come, and I didn‘t want to get stranded there. I felt like the protagonist in the Twilight Zone episode “A Stop at Willoughby”, where a stressed-out New York City ad executive falls asleep on a train and dreams that the train has gone back in time and stopped at a small, quiet, incredibly appealing turn-of-the-century town called Willoughby. When he tries to get off, he wakes up back in the present. This recurs over the course of several days of commuting, and each time, he comes a little closer to getting off before waking up. Finally, he does get off at Willoughby, and all the friendly locals welcome him, but in reality, he’s stepped off the train to his death.

Tharandt became my Willoughby. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I went to bed that night thinking about it and woke up at three in the morning still thinking about it, so I got up, got out the train schedules and found a way I could go there and still do the other stuff I wanted to do. It just meant I wouldn’t get much sleep.

A few hours later, I was standing in front of a 390-year-old church on top a hill in the middle of Tharandt. It was ‪Monday morning‬, and the pre-dawn sky was just starting to lighten. I stood there for a long time and looked out over the softly illuminated town, letting the peaceful ambiance envelop me, before finally clambering back down the path that had led me up to the church. I came across a brook I had seen from the train and wandered along it. Crossing a footbridge, a young man coming from the opposite direction passed by and said, “Hallo.” It was so unexpected, I almost forgot to say “Hallo” back. That was the only time on the trip a stranger greeted me in passing. When I got on the train back to Dresden, I felt all fuzzy and fulfilled. I had been to Willoughby, and I was still alive.

In Dresden, I got on a train headed for Görlitz. Before It got there, I got off at Bautzen, where I walked around for awhile. What an utterly German city. Some places I’d been to in Germany didn’t strike me as having much German character, but Bautzen was just loaded with it. Not that I can qualify what I mean by German character or pretend to know what it is to be German. Perhaps I should just say I found the place extraordinarily appealing.

From Bautzen I got on a train to Görlitz. My experience there wasn’t quite so positive, but it had nothing to do with the town. It had to do with me busting my ass in front of a bunch of people. I was intently following the directions on my phone’s “Around Me” app when I stepped down diagonally on a curb. My ankle folded up and I hit the cobblestones elbow first. I leapt to my feet right away and was hoping nobody had seen me fall when a woman ran up, asked me if I was hurt, and in general made a big, loud fuss. It was a fine humanitarian gesture on her part, but I wish she hadn’t done it, because everyone in the vicinity turned around to stare at the clownish, ruffled American in the Rick Steves outfit. I believe this episode set the bar for an entirely new level of embarrassment, one previously thought unattainable in a European holiday context.

I went and sat down on a bench and waited for my elbow to stop bleeding. Then I got up and tried to get interested in some medieval-looking structures nearby, but gave up. The thrill was gone. I trudged to the station and caught a train back to Dresden. It had been a best of times/worst of times kind of day.

The next day, Tuesday, I took a train to Weimar. By the time I got there, they were sold out of tickets to see Goethe’s house, but I had a wonderful bratwurst on a bun, the kind where the wurst sticks way out on both sides, and that more than made up for it. That dog was hot, too, because they had a guy cooking the brats out in the open on a portable grill. At first, I didn’t know how to go about getting one, so I stood there and watched until I could discern a pattern: First, you went up to a Hansel and Gretel-looking stand and gave money to a traditionally clad woman, who then handed you a sliced bun and a napkin. Next, you got in line for the grill. Then, when you reached the grill, you held out your open bun like an offering, and the cook responded by nabbing a sizzling wurst off the grill and plopping it into your bun with one skillful motion of his tongs. How marvelous. Much better than seeing some old fart’s house. And that brat turned out to be the highlight of my Weimar visit, because the old town was a lot more touristy than I had imagined, with souvenir stores and fast food places everywhere. When I got back to the hotel in Dresden, I checked the Goethe Institut site and saw they’d posted my exam results.

The next day, Wednesday, I took a train to Nürnberg and walked the two and a half miles from the main station to the place where the Nazis held enormous
party rallies in the 30s. I bought a map of the site at the visitors’ center/museum and set off walking until I came to what they call the Zeppelin Field. This is where, in 1934, a sea of uniformed men lined up in perfect rows and executed flawless close order drill before Leni Riefenstahl’s cameras, thereby making a substantial contribution to one of the most powerful pieces of cinematic propaganda ever made. Now all that’s left of the place is the imposing concrete grandstand and speaker’s platform. I clambered up the massive white steps, where I joined a group of people lined up waiting for their turn to stand on the platform. I went and stood on it, too, but not for very long. It was spooky.

I went back to the visitors’ center and asked the lady if it was possible to see the courtroom where the Nürnberg trials were held. She said she didn’t know, but she showed me where the courthouse was on a map. It was a long way off, but I was prepared to walk there until a little Google research revealed that special permission was required to go inside. Sigh.

Mildly disappointed, I walked the two and a half miles back to the station and took the train back to Dresden. I like walking through new cities because I can gauge the vibe and feel like I’m in the picture. I liked Nürnberg a lot, but by the time I got back to the hotel, I was hammered. I decided to rest and not go anywhere the next day.

The next day, Thursday, I changed my mind and took a train to Suhl to see two museums, one devoted to weapons, the other to motorcycles. The two places turned out to be conveniently located right next to each other and only 800 meters from the station. My feet rejoiced.

They’ve been making top drawer firearms in Suhl for centuries, and the ones in the museum ran the gamut from matchlock muskets to ultra high-tech rifles designed for the olympic biathlon. They had a pair of mockups of this type of rifle rigged up to fire laser beams at electronic targets on the wall. For an Euro, you got five shots, with a museum lady calling out the target area hit and marking the results on a printed target you got to take home. I watched a group of Germans take turns shooting, and none of them got a bullseye. When they left, the lady started talking to me and kinda cajoled me into doing it, too, and I got a bullseye. I was so happy, I felt like a little kid riding a bike without training wheels for the first time. After my exam fiasco, I guess I must have been starved for any kind of feeling of success, no matter how inconsequential.

After I’d seen enough guns, I headed over to the motorcycle museum. They had machines from the 1920s in absolutely immaculate condition, the kind of motorcycles I’d only ever seen pictures of. They had BMWs from the 50s and all kinds of Communist East German bikes I’d never seen before. They had cars, too, but I don’t care much about cars. They did, however, have one thing I liked that was associated with cars-a Trabant engine that was cut out so you could see the pistons and stuff. Cool.

The next day, Friday, I checked out of my hotel in Dresden and headed to the station to catch an ICE for Leipzig, where I’d get on another ICE for Berlin. I was proud of myself, because I’d had the foresight to get seat reservations. When I walked in, I looked up at the board and saw that my train had been cancelled. I could hear the blood rushing to my ears. If I didn’t get to Berlin, I’d miss my flight home the next morning.

I made a beeline for the Deutsche Bahn service center and found it overflowing with people. It was a big train that had been cancelled (final destination: Frankfurt am Main), and all the other passengers were in the same boat as me. I took a number and saw there were 30 people ahead of me. I figured I might as well wait outside, so I was on my way out again when I heard an announcement that a regional train had been scrounged up to take the passengers of the cancelled ICE to Leipzig, and that it would be arriving in a few minutes.

I got to the platform as fast as I could, but it seemed like everybody that had been in the service center was already there. I, like many others, had to stand all the way to Leipzig, because the little train was packed, and it stopped at 16 stations on the way. I did, however, get something worthwhile out of the experience. Being in such close quarters for two hours, I was privy to a large number of conversations between Germans, and I have to say, my abysmal score in listening comprehension was warranted, because I couldn’t understand half of what they were saying. Fortunately, the train got to Leipzig in time for me to make my connection to Berlin, where I checked into my hotel and collapsed.

The next day, Saturday, I remembered the surly bus driver from the year before and took a cab to the airport. I had a pleasant conversation with the Russian immigrant driver, who mistook me for a German, and flew home, ending a 100% a-hole free trip.
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Re: AlOlaf's Log (Danish/German/Norwegian)

Postby tungemål » Wed Oct 23, 2019 2:31 pm

AlOlaf wrote:I recently went to Germany for two weeks. While I was there, I took the Goethe C2 exam for the second time and saw some of the eastern part of the country.
...
Listening comprehension was a shock. I couldn’t believe how little I understood. My initial impression was that it was a lot harder than the time before, when I’d passed with 74, but now I think inadequate preparation just made it seem that way.


Hi. Thanks for the interesting report. The exam sounds hard and I would not be able to pass it (yet). I have a couple of questions: Have you already taken the C1 exam, or B2, and in that case how much more difficult was the C2 listening section? And what made listening comprehension hard - was there a lot of fast colloquial everyday German? I know when I listen to German radio I usually have no problem understanding the radio hosts, but when they interview "the man in the street" it can be really hard.

The trip went something like this: I flew into Berlin on a ‪Monday morning‬ and, for some reason, I thought there’d be a train from the airport to the main station.
...


I guess you landed in Tegel. Schönefeld does have a train connection, but that airport is also farther from the center. By the way, people in Berlin easily switch to English, so if they didn't that means your spoken German is excellent.

I enjoyed you report. Leipzig is beautiful, I would like to go back, and there are other places in Germany I also would like to visit some day.
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Re: AlOlaf's Log (Danish/German/Norwegian)

Postby AlOlaf » Wed Oct 23, 2019 7:08 pm

tungemål wrote:
AlOlaf wrote:I recently went to Germany for two weeks. While I was there, I took the Goethe C2 exam for the second time and saw some of the eastern part of the country.
...
Listening comprehension was a shock. I couldn’t believe how little I understood. My initial impression was that it was a lot harder than the time before, when I’d passed with 74, but now I think inadequate preparation just made it seem that way.


Hi. Thanks for the interesting report. The exam sounds hard and I would not be able to pass it (yet). I have a couple of questions: Have you already taken the C1 exam, or B2, and in that case how much more difficult was the C2 listening section? And what made listening comprehension hard - was there a lot of fast colloquial everyday German? I know when I listen to German radio I usually have no problem understanding the radio hosts, but when they interview "the man in the street" it can be really hard.

The trip went something like this: I flew into Berlin on a ‪Monday morning‬ and, for some reason, I thought there’d be a train from the airport to the main station.
...


I guess you landed in Tegel. Schönefeld does have a train connection, but that airport is also farther from the center. By the way, people in Berlin easily switch to English, so if they didn't that means your spoken German is excellent.

I enjoyed you report. Leipzig is beautiful, I would like to go back, and there are other places in Germany I also would like to visit some day.

Hi. I'm glad you liked my long-winded blurb. The C2 is the only German test I’ve ever taken, so I can‘t make any comparisons. For me, what makes the listening section hard is not just the rapid speech, but also the liberal use of idioms and elevated/specialized vocabulary.

Yep, it was Tegel. Berlin Airlift, JFK, my kind of airport.
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Postby Morgana » Wed Oct 23, 2019 8:11 pm

Last edited by Morgana on Mon Nov 25, 2019 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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AlOlaf
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Re: AlOlaf's Log (Danish/German/Norwegian)

Postby AlOlaf » Wed Oct 23, 2019 8:53 pm

Morgana wrote:AlOlaf, your fascinating travel logs are always a joy to read. Too bad about the (listening) result on the C2 exam, but it seems like, should there be a next time, you'll have it in the bag since you know what you need to do.

Oh, thank you, Morgana! I enjoy reading about your adventures, too. I often feel as if I’ve gone down the rabbit hole.
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Re: AlOlaf's Log (Danish/German/Norwegian)

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Wed Oct 23, 2019 10:17 pm

Never having taken one of these exams at any level in any language, my question may be ignorant, but I'm wondering whether there are practice exams and whether you took one.

A spellbinding journal, by the way. Thanks for sharing your journey.
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Re: AlOlaf's Log (Danish/German/Norwegian)

Postby PeterMollenburg » Wed Oct 23, 2019 11:23 pm

Hi AlOlaf !

I just caught up on your travel journal and your C2 German exam results. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t pass this time around. Have another go, I say! Failing does not come without benefits provided you sit it again soon-ish with the lessons learned in mind. I’ve my French C2 coming up soon and my preparation has been awful-ish, I might find myself in good company, I’m thinking ;) but I’ll still give it a red-hot go!

Your travel writing is thoroughly enjoyable, thank you for sharing! One thing in particular I found particularly intriguing, were your comments on the ingenuity apparent in times past. I must say, and this is a little conpiracy-like of me, but I’m certain we are getting drummed into us that we are apparently the smartest we’ve ever been, living in the most technologicially advanced time etc etc. Well, I’m convinced now, that people who lived hundreds and others, thousands of years back were no less intelligent than us today, and in many cases, I think they were smarter, they just didn’t have the advantages of a an interconnected world we have today. That is, a world in which if something is created on the other side of the world today, it’s shared with the rest of the world tomorrow (that’s simplifying it, of course). Anyway, AlOlaf, it’s great to read your log with the latest developments. Hold your head high, your accomplishments up to this point are worth a great deal of respect.

Peace out,
Peter McPeas
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