I was so exhausted after all the events yesterday, especially the long session of conversation and discussion over what I might be able to do in the future, that I left much of what I wanted to write out. Tonight I am just as tired, having had another hard working day with my trainer, but want to catch up a little bit before trying to sleep. Hopefully writing this post will clear my mind a little bit so that I am not tossing and turning until all hours of the morning going through all the possibilities with pro and contra and no clear decision at the end of it.
One of the loose threads that I left yesterday was over the tea we drank. He – this sounds silly so I a going to use his name, since we’re going to be together for a long time it makes little real difference anyway, and he isn’t a lover whose name needs protecting! – Martin ordered Darjeeling Second Flush tea for us both, explaining that the First Flush was good if you like a mild, fresh tea, but the Second Flush is stronger and has a far deeper aroma. When the two small pots of tea arrived, each with its own small stove, we were also presented with two egg timers. The sand in both timers had almost run through, but Martin turned his over once more and let the tea brew a little longer. We had a choice of brown or white sugar crystals, but neither milk nor lemon slices which, as I found out, is the way tea should be served.
Another loose end: Martin gave me details about various options based on information from a language school in Munich, but pointed out that I could take the courses wherever I wished and that there is a certified school in Bremen. I wouldn’t need to move across the country to start learning, and my year with him wouldn’t be wasted. The next full translator course, with its many, many options, begins in September 2011. The next qualification course I could take, to prove that my German is good enough to allow admittance to a higher college or university, is on 29 September this year and, if I wanted to, I could take a complete German for foreigners preparatory course and sit a later examination. This would probably set me back a little bit and make applying for the full course harder, as the rest of the world would be applying for the limited places as early as they possibly could to stand a reasonable chance of getting accepted.
Our whole switching of languages from English to French to German and back again was his way of testing how easily I could handle both the languages and a sudden change without warning. We also had a in depth discussion in German over language, business, international affairs and the like, with him posing me questions and then questioning my answers. Here he was testing me to see how good my understanding of the German language is when used in a business context. This, he explained, is part and parcel of the test I would have to take prior to applying for a place in theÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â university or higher college. The basic test requires students to be able to handle complicated texts in a lecture hall atmosphere; to understand exactly what the lecturer is talking about without needing any repetition; to be capable of assimilating facts and figures and discussing any number of subjects clearly and concisely. His assessment of my abilities, after nearly three hours of conversation, questions, discussion was that I would have a very good chance of getting a grade 4, if not 5, on the test. Four is the lower limit he would recommend, 3 and less aren’t worth thinking about – and there isn’t anything less than a grade 3, just the grade Less Than 3! – and 5 is that grade which would virtually guarantee me a place as far as my German understanding is concerned. He asked me how many hours of German I had taken at school, which I couldn’t answer. We had German twice a week, two periods each time and I took it for four years. That, along with the reading I did in my spare time, gave me enough time studying, he thought, to put me ahead of many other foreign students.
In the end his recommendation was that I apply for the test without a preparatory course, but stuff as much information on the business world and international affairs into my mind as possible before the end of September. He would be surprised, an deeply disappointed, if I didn’t achieve a 5.
We also talked about other things, such as his business; the people I would be working with; the work I would be expected to do; leisure time; travel; photography. He laughed when I lamented not having my bulky camera with me so that I could take a few more photographs of the village and pulled a Canon PowerShot A490 out of his pocket. It seems that he loves photography too, but claims not to be too good at taking pictures, and always hasÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â his camera and a notebook with him. When he’s travelling he takes the big camera, when he’s just out and about doing other things where a larger camera would get in the way, his little A490 sits comfortably in a pocket. It’s really classed as a camera for beginners, he seemed a little bit embarrassed by this admission, but the quality is good and it’s easy to use quickly, he told me.
We talked a little about the work I would be expected to handle when I wasn’t either learning or sleeping. I had read through the job description carefully and with mixed feelings. It all seemed rather too much for a beginner but, as he explained, I was there to learn and it was far better to know what was expeced from the first moment than have more and more heaped upon you until you eitherÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â drowned in responsibilityÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â or suffocated from lack of knowledge and experience. His business covers property, stocks and shares, antiques and art. He began very small when the Berlin Wall fell, buying up residential property for next to nothing, small businesses through the government agency for even less and then moved on to insolvency purchases. There are six full time people working in his main office, one trainee, himself and his Executive Assistant: me. The main office covers Property Management, Art and Antiques, Private Insolvency, Business Sector Insolvency. He has a second office in Saxony-Anhalt in Magdeburg where three people work, covering Property Management,Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â and a mass of people who work as either sub-contractors or supervisors. Under this main section comes the several businesses he has bought up over the years, mainly through the bankruptcy courts, where even more people are employed who I would probably have contact with and many who deal with him on an occasional basis but don’t work directly for him, such as lawyers, surveyors and tax consultants. In the main office there are three women and three men plus the male trainee, in the Magdeburg office three women.
We agreed that I should visit the office for the first time over the weekend, when no one else was working, so thatÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â could getÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â good idea of the layout and, on my first work day, walk in and find my place as if I’d been there forever. I would also need to move since, not having a car and there being no buses, commuting to work an back each day would take up too much time and tire me out before I had even begun. That, he told me, had already been arranged well in advance. I would move into a small apartmentÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â within walking distance ofÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â the office and effectively be boss over my own life and movements. Or, at least, as far as possible. Here, once again, Martin proved himself a master of information or, at the very least, well prepared.
Since I would be living in Germany for at least a year, possibly for four or five years depending on whether I took the translator course, I could transfer my driving licence from the States into a German licence and drive ordinary cars without having to take any further tests. This, he said, wasn’t so for all States but I was lucky enough to have taken and passed my driving test in one which came up to German standards. Another reason to bless my Dad, who had ensured I started learning at 14, got my restrictedÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â and then full licences at 16 and 17.
Now I think you can see why I didn’t manage to sleep so well last night. I have a mass of decisions to make and I have to make them on my own: it’s my future; my education; my career.
Today we went to a different cafe and Martin continued the tests, but this time added a stress factor. He brought a stopwatch with him because, as he pointed out, the written and verbal examinations I would have to pass were strictly time limited. He read short news articles from the Financial Times Deutschland over the oil spillage and BPs reactions; over the deaths at the recent Love Parade in Duisburg; over the possibility of Iceland and Turkey joining the European Union. I was asked my opinion and had to justify it against his manyÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â questions. I learned that it would be a good move to read the news regularly and especially to think about what my opinion could be, and why.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â I stumbled and stuttered a great deal, lost my way several times and was on the verge of giving up once or twice but, and Martin is exceptionally good at this, he would smile and move on as if nothing had happened. This area, he told me, needs working on.
It’s now half past ten at night and I am too tired to sleep. I don’t know whether you’ve ever experienced such a feeling; you know that you need to sleep; your whole body is begging you to climb into bed, close your eyes and simply go, but you can’t. I can get by on very little sleep, often waking up before dawn and wondering what to do with myself while everyone else is still sleeping peacefully so that I don’t disturb them. My supply of books is asÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â exhausted as I am and surfing the Internet strikes me as being a lost notion. I think I will simply close this entry now, lie down and see whether sleep sneaks up on me, takes me in its arms, and transports me to that land of dreams far, far away. Tomorrow will be another hectic day: packing my possessions back together; taking my driving licence in to exchange it; opening a bank account; completing the paperwork for medical insurance, tax and a residence permit ad, of course, filling out my application for the German language test.
Love & Kisses, Viki.