First German meetup
February 17, 2011
I attended my first German conversation meetup last night. I have mixed feelings about how it went. For one thing, it got off to a little bit of a rocky start. Since I was quickly recognized as the “new guy,” I was asked to tell a little bit about myself. When I was asked whether or not I had been to Germany, I responded, “No, but I’m hoping to go in a month or two.” They asked, “Where will you be going?” I said, “Heidelberg, Tübingen, and a few other places.” They asked, “Are you going for studies?” I said, “Yes.” They asked, “What kind of studies?” I said, “Neutestamentliche Wissenshaft.” There was brief silence, then one lady loudly said, “Neutestamentliche Wissenshaft? That is not a Wissenshaft! Wissenshaft is science. No, that is not Wissenshaft.” Not prepared for such a confrontation, I tried to explain that the Germans consider it to be. I was then asked where I could possibly perform such studies. I reminded them of what I had originally said, “Heidelberg, Tübingen, Bonn, etc.” This caused a lively debate around the table, some of the native Germans spoke up on my behalf, explaining that, yes, in Germany, there is such a field of Wissenshaft. They explained that my confrontor was confusing Wissenshaft with Natur Wissenshaft.
So much for making a quiet entrance. So much for my grand hopes of listening and observing and scoping things out. Other than this incident, there was some conversation to be had. Of the 10 or 11 people in attendance, I think 3 were native speakers. The facilitator spoke with a strong Southern twang (it was almost comical, like someone who is deliberately trying to sound like a foreigner, or even jesting at the language).
Sadly, there was just as much English heard last night as there was German. I think such a club should have a no English policy, especially since some of us have an hour-long drive. Somehow, I managed to get the last available seat at the table, right in between the native speakers. Perhaps we’ll be able to connect outside of scheduled club meetings.