August 5, 2012
Greeting from Munich! Let me give a little update. We arrived yesterday morning (Saturday) at our apartment. Our flight was from Atlanta to Toronto to Munich via Air Canada. Melody did outstanding the whole way. In fact, she did so well on the long flight that several passengers remarked on her mild manners (the flight was 8 hours through the night, she slept for 7). All I can say is that the sleeping meds we gave her worked! Melody seems to be treating this whole process as one grand adventure. There is a German family at the Collegium with three kids, and they seem quite fond of Melody. She is hearing a flurry of Deutsch. As a family we all seem to be adjusting quickly to the time change, having each slept peacefully through our first night.
Although we spent the month of July leading up to our move with family, we miss everyone already. We are eagerly anticipating their visits, which will be over Christmas and next summer, Lord willing.
Yesterday, our first day here, was such a blur. HJ and I barely slept on the flight. Then when we got here there were so many people to meet, not to mention trying to settle into the house. HJ has done a wonderful job already making it feel like home: fresh picked flowers, decorations from home, everything unpacked. Then yesterday evening the students welcomed us to dinner, serving us a traditional bayerisch meal called Spätzel–delicious! And to my delight, everyone was eager to speak German rather than English. Several complemented me on my German, which is always encouraging, especially since I still feel very insecure and have many weaknesses in the language. But I was encouraged that each student felt comfortable conversing in German with me, and none felt the need to compensate by speaking English. I spoke more German yesterday–in one day–than any other day of my life, and loved it! Unfortunately, however, since none seemed keen on speaking English Hannah Joy felt a little out-of-place.
Our apartment is in the historic Freimann borough in Northern Munich. I am so eager to learn what kind of history surrounds this area. All the houses are so old and regal looking, with immaculate gardens. Each seems to have a story of its own to tell. This morning Melody and I were walking around the block and met an elderly women walking her dog. She stopped (probably since Melody was barking at her dog) and we enjoyed a warm conversation. I asked her about the church bells ringing in the distance. She informed me that when the wind blows east you can hear the church bells from that direction, but when the wind is westward you hear a different set of bells. Below I’ll leave you with some pictures of the Collegium, the Lutheran housing community in which we are living.
Our apartment is on the second floor of this building: it consists of three small rooms, including a study/bedroom, a kitchen/living room, and another bedroom. Already it is beginning to feel like home. You might notice that several of the windows are open; that is because it is in the 70′s during the day here and 50′s at night.
Across from our apartment are these buildings. The big white one contains dorms for about 50 single students. The cafeteria is located in the brown building on the right, along with the library containing 27,000 theological books, offices, and a social room.
May 17, 2012
For those of you who may be considering studying abroad, or specifically in Germany, please note that I have updated my page Preparing For Studies Abroad. I have inserted several extremely helpful links to help sort through the nitty-gritty details related to matriculation, residence permits, etc.
And, while I’m posting some links, here are some more helpful resources for learning the German language. Be sure to check out the Goethe institute’s Grüße aus Deutschland. Deutsche Welle’s Audio Tutor helps learners effectively grasp basic vocabulary and improve your pronunciation. Finally, THIS series of texts gives you practice with your listening comprehension. Well, that should keep you busy for a while.
April 13, 2012
I have not been devoting much time to blogging lately, as you’ve probably noticed. Instead, I’ve been pouring my energies into the German language. I thought I’d share some helpful links for those of you who are also interested in learning this language:
- i tunes U has some great German podcasts. Make sure you enjoy some of the University of Freiburg’s “Rede des Monats.” I recommend Anton Vögtle’s Die griechische Sprache und ihre Bedeutung für die Geschichte des Christentums (1971) (see lecture # 19). Vögtle speaks with unmistakable passion, and his German sounds a bit Scottish to me.
- i tunes also has some very helpful links. Beginners will find the Goethe institute’s Radio D and Warum nicht? series useful. Deutsche Welle also offer some helpful sources, such as their Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten.
- Finally, it’s important to have fun while learning a language. For this I recommend Die Sendung mit der Maus. You can view new episodes weekly, and can also puruse video segments. Although this show is for kids, I would advise some caution as some of the material is not child appropriate, in my opinion.
I hope these resources help you as much as they’ve helped me. Sometimes it seems that fresh resources provide much needed breezes of motivation and fight of the stagnation that so easily creeps into language learning.
January 28, 2012
Today I finished George Bailey’s Germans: Biography of an Obsession. There were so many excellent points, in fact I scribbled and underlined on nearly every page. I also found Bailey fascinating, especially his interest in languages. Bailey’s first exposure to the German language came at the age of 12 when he began spending summers in the wilderness of Washington state with his lumberjack German uncle. Then at the age of 16 Bailey began working in a kitchen on a midwestern train, where he was surrounded by Germans and Poles and Czechs and Russians. Bailey then got a scholarship to Columbia College in New York city. He chose to study Classics with a focus on Greek. During his studies, Bailey was drawn to the kitchen of a nearby Hebrew seminary, where again he was exposed to numerous languages, including Hebrew. Bailey exchanged lessons in German for lessons in Hebrew with one of the students. Then, during WWII Bailey served as an army translator, communicating primarily in German and Russian. After the war, Bailey chose to study at Magdalen College, Oxford, under the famous C. S. Lewis. Bailey recounts several stories of his encounter with Lewis, including the time when Lewis was forced to confess to Bailey that he could not read a German quote.
Here were some of my favorite takeaways from Bailey’s book:
“What attracted me to German from the first was its distinctness and clarity. It was hard, clear, and sharp. . . . It seemed to me the manliest of languages. There were those wonderful reinforced consonants: “Stumpf” instead of stump, “Schwert” instead of sword (where only the first and last consonants are pronounced)” (Germans, 16).
“The study of languages is an intellectual pursuit. But the pursuit does not make the intellectual; the intellectual makes the pursuit. In fact, in a curious way knowledge of a foreign language tends to inhibit one from reading widely. While the linguist is able to read the original text he often can do so only with the greatest difficulty. The ability coupled with the difficulty acts as a double deterrent: it rules out reading the work in translation and discourages struggling with the original text (Germans, 22; I had to chuckle when I read this, for I’ve often thought that I could have done a lot more reading if I hadn’t spent so many long hours trying to learn some new language).
“The chief significance of being at a university is the access to books” (Germans, 152).
December 23, 2011
As I’ve mentioned recently, my family is preparing for a move to Germany. As you’ve probably also noticed, I’m pretty excited and will have a lot to say about the process. Let me share with you what I am doing to help prepare myself for the academic studies in Munich:
- Between now and May/June when we hope, Lord willing, to move, I am focusing on honing my language skills. I am trying to read at least 10 verses a day from the Hebrew Old Testament. I refer primarily to Keil and Delitzsch for issues encountered in the Hebrew. I’m also practicing my Latin. Daily reading in the Vulgate is the bare minimum, but I’m also trying to work through a classical grammar.
- My major focus when it comes to language preparation is Greek and German. I’m balancing my time between these since the bulk of my work in Munich will relate to these languages. For Greek I am just about to complete my first reading of the Greek NT. I am also working through a classical grammar that includes translations from English to Greek. When it comes to German, I recently felt that I had hit a wall and was making little progress. Motivation had bottomed out. All of this changed when I was given a few new German magazines and the newest edition of Deutsch Perfekt. I’m finding the Zeitschrift entitled Deutsch Perfekt to be greatly helpful, since it offers contemporary readings on a host of topics and themes, with different levels of difficulty, and with reading helps on hard words. Now I’m finding it hard to put the German down and pick up the Greek.
- There are a couple of things I would like to read between now and Germany. Mostly I would like to read in the area of NT backgrounds: things such as Josephus, Philo, Apostolic Fathers, maybe some Apocrypha, a rhetorical handbook, Homer, and probably Dictionary of NT Background.
- In order to make time for these languages and readings, I am not aiming to try to get much published in the next few months. As of now I am only working on one book review (Letters to the Church: A Survey of Hebrews and the General Epistles by K. Jobes for Criswell Theological Review). I’m also planning on turning down an opportunity to write another article for the Lexham Bible Dictionary since this will take away time from my other pursuits.
In some upcoming posts, I hope to share with you how I’m preparing spiritually for Germany, and also how we as a family are preparing.
December 19, 2011
Well, let me officially say I’m back and ready to blog again. As you may have noticed, I decided earlier this fall to take a break from blogging. Now I’m going to give you an update on what I was working on and accomplished during my blogging sabbatical:
- I finished my th.m. thesis (masters of theology). My thesis, which clocked in at 172 pages, was entitled “Interpreting Microstructures through Discourse Analysis, with Specific Application to the Text of James 5:13-18.” And, with my th.m. thesis completed, I graduated this past Friday and am officially done at SEBTS (which means I have no books checked out from the library, but soon can check out a maximum of 5 with an alumni account). Family was here for the weekend to celebrate.
- I was officially accepted by the faculty of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität-München for doctoral studies. Now I am awaiting the final word from the school’s international office. The application process was quite thorough: I had to get several references, academic transcripts (including elementary and high school), even SAT scores from high school.
- I completed my application to the DAAD, which offers scholarships for students to study in Germany. In order to apply for this, I had to again gather transcripts, references, etc. I also had to take a German proficiency exam, which included speaking, reading, writing, and listening comprehension. On my test I received a 3 out of 5 on each area, meaning I can communicate in German in general topics and in scientific topics of medium difficulty. Before I can begin at Munich I will need to be completely fluent. Needless to say, I have spent and will continue to spend considerable time working on my German.
- Any spare time I had was spent with my wife and daughter, who is now a year old, beginning to talk, and walking up a storm.
So, there you have it. That’s what I’ve been up to. In my next couple of posts I’ll let you know what I plan on doing now. Also, tomorrow evening (Tues) we’ll be having my German conversation partner over for dinner. I’ll be sure to post pictures so you can “meet” her.
September 9, 2011
If you are working on learning German, you’ll want to check out two interesting sites:
July 16, 2011
I did something today I thought I would never do: I purchased a copy of Rosetta stone (German). HJ expressed interest in learning German so that, Lord willing, she will be able to converse in the language if we end up in Germany. So, my wife and I will now be working on German together, and we’ll be sure to do so in front of Melody so she can get used to the sound of the language. We managed to purchase the Rosetta stone on eBay for $100, which includes all 5 levels of the program.
June 20, 2011
If anyone is interested in learning German, I’ve found another useful resource. It’s called deutsch-perfekt.com/ and offers a host of tools for those learning German. For instance, it offers a word-of-the-day, a section where you can listen to news articles, a section with practice games, and even a short test to evaluate your German proficiency. I think you’ll find this a useful resource.