Blending in with Germans
I always do my best to not look like a tourist when I visit new cities.
Standing in the middle of a busy intersection looking around with a map in your hands, stopping to take pictures of everything you see and speaking in English are all dead giveaways of your tourist status.
Most importantly, I try to speak in German only when traveling about German-speaking cities.
Having spent so much time in Spanish-speaking countries, I have really neglected my German, but since I started learning German at such a young age, I am able to produce the sounds of German words much like a native speaker.
However, I still get pegged as a non-native speaker with my horrible German grammar.
You know you're not doing too hot when the person you're talking to switches to English mid-conversation. It's happened to me a few times.
I initially get frustrated with the person who switches to English because when I wanted to speak German with a native German speaker in New Zealand or Australia, they would refuse to speak German because they were in an English-speaking country.
Oh, fair enough, but now we're in GERMANy. Not ENGLISHy. Speak German please.
For the most part, all my conversations with people on the street have stayed in German even when I screw up the grammar a bit.
Yesterday I went into a bakery and ordered a sandwich. There were two desserts there that looked tasty and I asked the baker which one he liked better in German.
After some small talk in German he asked me if I was German and I said, "No, I'm American." He replied, "Oh, American German." I said, "No, just American." He was quite confused and asked where I learned how to speak German. When I told him, "in middle school in Kentucky," he was even more confused.
I take that as a compliment.
I just recently purchased a SIM card for my phone. I was going from cell phone shop to cell phone shop trying to find the best deal. At first I was asking people if they spoke English (asking the question in German of course).
One guy responded with, "A little," and then continued in German. I'm glad he did because it made me realize that even though I didn't understand everything they said, I still understood them quite well.
I finally went into T-Moble and bought a SIM card. From asking questions about pricing to purchasing the SIM, I kept it all in German. I completely undestimated my German speaking abilities.