As an English speaker coming from a small village in France and living and working as a recruitment consultant in Germany, I wanted to share a diary entry of mine, a day in the life of Marie David-Cavaz! I hope that some of the funny, weird and sometimes frustrating things that happen to me on a quite regular basis brighten your day!
7:20am – Waking up:
I run to the gym and meet some employees of a garage who always have a nice word for me - at least, I hope they do! Sadly, even after 2 years in Düsseldorf my understanding of the German language is close to “null”.
I am confronted to the lack of prudishness from women in the changing room at the gym, or perhaps this is an excess of prudishness from my side, and try to not look too ridiculously shy. At least I know I am not ready to try Saunas in Germany anytime soon…
9:30am - Morning business trip to Frankfurt:
I spot an old Italian couple who do not speak a word of English nor German, complaining about the lack of seats in the ICE train. After 10 years of Italian studies, I feel it is my duty to come to the rescue. After all, as fellow “Auslanders”, we should support each other. I must admit I take some malicious delight in criticizing the German system where you have to pay extra for a seat, in front of bemused German passengers. Nina became my companion on the road and we exchanged warm goodbyes.
1:00pm – Lunch break:
I order in German, everything goes well until the vendor says something unexpected (not the classical “Eine Tüte dazu?” or the controversial “Zusammen oder getrennt?”).
03:05pm – Back to Düsseldorf:
We receive a call at the office and Herr Müller (our French “Dupont”) “möchte bitte mit [insert a colleague’s name] sprechen”. I then reply in English and always feel rude about it, but Mr. Müller is nice and accepts to speak in English, even though “he thought he called the German office”.
04:00pmm – Kaffeezeit!
I try not to interrupt some of my German colleagues in their conversation, most of which I do not understand anyway, as I strive to not lose face and merely smile and nod at them, hoping they are not talking about their dead pets (!).
06:00pm – Home time
I bid my colleagues farewell with a “Tschüss bis Morgen”. Later, I have a call with a French friend and struggle to find the word “Summer event” in French (like seriously, how do you say this?!). I came to a point where speaking my native language requires more effort than English and I have begun to always say “I mean” in a middle of a sentence. I need to do something about this.
I finally take an appointment with a German teacher, who thinks I have a Czech accent. First time that my French accent does not betray me (success!).
Chilling at home while reading the news about France and the rest of the world – I am obviously concerned about what is happening in my country (with the “gilets jaunesses” as my British colleague would say), but I feel more and more distanced. I do miss my friends and family but Germany is becoming more and more like a second home – Who would have thought that two years ago?! I certainly did not…
Have you recently moved to Germany with no language skills? How are you finding it? Do you have any plans to learn a new language? Interestingly, my colleague James Casey recently wrote an interesting article based on how the German language isn’t as important in business nowadays, give it a read here!