I’m a firm believer in the whole “do something that scares you” once a week type mantra, but it seems to inevitably lead to me also being stressed out and annoyed with myself that I am such a terminal signer-upper. All leading me to say…I gave my first talk in German! The event photographer just sent me a few impressions (see below).
It went alright. I have given approximately 4,000 oodles of talks in the course of my academic career so far, and really thought I was over getting nervous, but this turned out to be a new frontier. Honestly, what made me the most nervous was a conversation with one of Benno’s friends at 3am Friday night at the Baden casino (long story, but just know that the World Cup fever deserves its own post), where he made fun of how bad my written German is. It made me realize that I have mostly learned German from speaking on the streets. People understand me just fine, but I make a fair amount of errors. The most egregious is that I ALWAYS get impatient and forget to put the second half of my verb at the end of the sentence, instead putting it with the rest of the verb (WHERE IT RIGHTFULLY BELONGS YOU CRAZY GERMAN SPEAKERS). People can’t always tell I am American from the way I speak, but it is immediately clear I am a foreigner.
Anyway, I ended up looking at my notes a lot more than I usually do during a talk in the hopes of getting those darn verbs in the right place, and lost a little bit of my normal connection with the audience. They still laughed in all the right places, but I was not really satisfied. Next time I think I will just say grammar be damned and speak spontaneously. Multiple people now, including my old boss who asked me to do this, have told me that the mistakes I make are “cute,” which I am not sure how to interpret but at least I am getting the feedback that people are not angry I am butchering their language.
Afterward there was lots of apero schmoozing in German which was somehow also stressful- it’s not like I can just give the talk and go. At least I could inhale a deserved glass of prosecco. When I hit the apartment at night I was suddenly too tired to even eat dinner, and just headed straight to bed.
I have done several other things that scared me this week, including dealing with US TAXES, but for now I will just say that I am in great need of some vacation time and R&R. Luckily it is coming up JUST.IN.TIME. I am so ready for summer, y’all. A quick preview of summer 2018:
- Upcoming (in 2 days!!!) trip to Tanzania for the kick-off of our study in country. I fly out Sunday AM to reunite with our Tanzanian PhD and other partners, and attend the kick-off meeting with some key stakeholders in country. Will be a meeting and experience intense five or so days, I am sure. After that Benno is flying down to Dar es Salaam to meet me and we are heading together on safari in the Serengeti/Ngorogoro Crater/Manyara Park and then for some relaxation on Zanzibar Island.
- July long weekend in Scotland with a good friend to hike the West Highland Way. Can’t wait to get my highlander on and finally do another long(er) hike.
- Heitere Open Air in August. Long weekend outdoor camping festival where all of Benno’s friends go every year. I’m a little scared for this one based on photographs of past festivals.
- Hut hikes with my dad in the Bernese Oberland!
Other than that, I have tried really hard to minimize travel and instead focus on beautiful Switzerland in the summertime. There is no better place.