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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Free TestDaF Resources Online

Some of the most frequent questions I get through this blog is, "What advice do you have for passing the TestDaF?"

After passing the TestDaF with a pretty good score in February 2014, I do have a lot to say about the test. To read my top tips for taking the exam, check out the following links:


For those wanting more, I have compiled a list of free resources that I found to be helpful in preparing to take the test. I will continue to update this list as I find more.

TestDaF Practice Tests/Exercises


Training/Tips for the TestDaF

Vocabulary

Further (offline) Material

Viel Glück!

Monday, February 16, 2015

My Turtles Are Dead! | Mistranslation Monday

Ever since I first came to Germany in 2011, I have struggled with the German word for turtle.


The topic first came up when Marco bought me my first Kinder Überraschungsei (those chocolate eggs with the toy inside). My toy inside was a little plastic turtle.

"That's a Schildköte," Marco told me, "it combines the world Schild (shield) and Kröte (toad)."

"Germans sure do love their compound words," I thought to myself as I tried to save the word Schildkröte into my vocabulary. Except I didn't. Instead, I always thought of turtles as shield-toads.

Opening my first Kinder Egg in 2011
Luckily, the German word for shield is pretty easy to remember, but I could never remember the name for toad. But what did I know the word for? Frog. So, Schildkröte became Schildfrosch, and just like so many things I share on my Mistranslation MondaysSchildfrosh is still a term that Marco and I use quite often.

In fact, that is why Marco keeps this little glass turtle that I bought for him while in Prague on his desk at work.


Unfortunatly, however, this new compound word of mine is a little too ingrained in my memory, because when I was recently confronted with a new compound word that began with "Schild," I could only think of those darn shield-yielding frogs.

Did I mention that Germans really love compound words? Well, this also goes for biological and medical terms, as the word for thyroid (English-speakers are smart and just modified the Latin word) in German is Schilddrüse, with Schild meaning "shield" and Drüse meaning "gland."

Makes sense, but in my mind, the only word that comes after Schild is Frosch. So when the doctor told me that my Schilddrüse were not working, I was quick to turn around and tell Marco, "My Schildfrösche aren't working!"

And now every morning when I take my medication, I think about my poor under-functioning Schildfrosch.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

That's Not My Name!

I am sick and tired of people (i.e. Germans) getting my name wrong. I know I have written about this topic before, but it needs to be said again.

After doing a quick search through my inbox for "Herr Courtney," I gathered this small sample of emails that I have received from people who assumed that:
1) I am a man and/or
2) Courtney is my last name.






And that's not all of them. Even my doctor thinks that my first name is Martin, but since he also has possession of my medical records, he (thankfully) does not make the mistake of calling me "Herr." Instead, I am "Frau Courtney" at his office, which doesn't really bother me.

After getting this so often, however, I have decided to begin shaming the people that write these emails to me. For example, one of the emails above was from a woman that had just written up my new work contract, and she was emailing me to let me know that I could come to her office to sign it. Since she just wrote my name on the contract, I really felt like she should have known better than to write my name wrong in an email.

So, I replied:
"My name is Frau Martin, not Herr Courtney. My first name is Courtney, and my last name is Martin. Please make sure that the correct name is on the contract before I come in to sign it."
A few minutes later, I received my reply:
das habe ich gerade bemerkt, als ich den Arbeitsvertrag in die Unterschriftsmappe legen wollte. Entschuldigen Sie bitte, das ich so unaufmerksam war.
[I just noticed that as I was placing the contract in the folder. Please excuse me for being so unobservant.]
To which I replied:
"Yeah, you were unobservant, and although my initial response may have not sounded so nice, you should be thankful that I didn't go all Breaking Bad on you until you said my name correctly!"
Okay, okay. I didn't really write that, but I wanted to.

via
Come on, Germans! Learn my name! 

Are there any other expats out there with name troubles?

Monday, February 9, 2015

I Love You Puppy | Mistranslation Monday

A few months ago, there was a J.Lo song that made its way into the top 40. Since the German boyfriend and I listen to a lot of Radio Hamburg whenever we are in the bathroom, we knew all of the words.


Heck, I had even seen the music video a few times, which tries to poke fun at music videos that objectify women by objectifying men instead (see screenshot above).

If you don't know what song I am talking about by now, it was "I Luh Ya Papi" by Jennifer Lopez (aka "I Love You, Papi"). The title is quite easy to remember since the lyrics to the chorus are as follows:

I luh ya papi
I luh ya papi,
I luh ya, luh ya, luh ya papi
I luh ya luh papi,
I luh ya, luh ya, luh ya papi
I luh ya papi,
I luh ya papi, I luh ya luh ya luh ya papi
Yeah that my papi
I luh ya luh ya luh ya papi


Anyways, the song was stuck in Marco's head one day, and he was trying to find the song online. He was getting quite frustrated, and once I came over and looked at his computer screen, I immediately saw why.

Instead of searching "I Luh Ya Papi" (or "I Love You Papi," which would also work), Marco was searching "I Love You Puppy."

This turned into us watching videos of dogs that can say "I love you" on YouTube, which is a real thing.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Feeling Like a Failure

Failing is an inevitable part of life. Unfortunately, living in a foreign country means that you will likely encounter the feeling of failure more often than if you had just stayed at home.


I am having one of those days where you feel like a complete failure right now. Choosing to come to Germany to get my Master's was a big step, and although there was a lot of obstacles along the way, I felt like I managed to adapt to university life and fit into my program (where everyone else is German) fairly well.

February and March is the end of the Winter Semester at German universities, when final exams take place and exam papers are due. My first final exam was yesterday, February 3rd at 12:15 p.m.

Oh, except I am an idiot and kept telling myself it was at 2:15 p.m.

So, I showed up two hours later for my exam, and all of my classmates were standing outside of the room talking about how they felt they did on the test. And my heart dropped as I walked up and realized what had happened.

Luckily, there is a second chance to take the test. In fact, there are many students that purposely do not go to the first attempt just because they need more time to study. But I didn't do that. I wanted to take it the first time. I was ready. I have been studying German philosophy non-stop for the past 2 weeks.

But I missed it, and now I will have to take the test in 2 months when it is held again. I hope I can somehow remember all of this information until then.

Overall, this isn't a big deal, and I should feel okay knowing that I can still take it again without repercussions. But it is these small things that make you feel like you are failing at living outside of your home country.

This was supposed to be my first final exam in Germany. My first final exam of my Master's degree. But I messed it up.
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