I haven't written as much here about it, but German has been going fairly well for me so far - or at least I feel very positive about it. But that confidence will be put to a test next week when I arrive in Berlin!
The plan is to visit a friend in Poland, but I booked my travel to arrive in and leave from Berlin, and I've given myself a little extra time in Germany in order to find out how well I'm doing at this stage in my studies, and hopefully to identify some areas where I have difficulty, so that I can focus my attention a bit better in the last few months of the year, before my final challenge...
And I'm pretty excited about my plans for the end of this year's language mission! It's something I've wanted to do my whole life, and this year seemed the perfect time to stop putting it off and just go... especially with my choice of German as this year's language. So I've already booked my trip. This year I will be spending Christmas in Vienna!
Naturally, as an English-speaking traveler, the risk of being lost and confused in a popular European city is low, but as always, when I travel I want to enjoy meeting the local people and taking part in the things they enjoy. I also hate to join groups or take guided tours, which really feel like they dumb down the experience, so for me the enjoyment of my trip is strongly correllated to how well I am able to function in my target language.
That should add a bit to the challenge here, as I am told that the German I will hear in Austria is notably different from the "High German" that I will have spent most of my year learning. Therefore I need to be extra comfortable with what I have learned, in order to recognize that there are things I don't know, and to identify what they are. I expect that this will be similar to my experiences in southern Italy after learning the more "standard" Italian that is spoken in the north.
To this end, I have to make the most of my opportunity for immersed practice in Berlin. Naturally I will do some sightseeing, but I expect to focus a lot of attention on talking to people and making conversation. During all of this, I will carry a small digital recording device with me so that I can record all of my conversations and make note of the areas where I struggle, so that when I return home I can pay extra attention to improving those areas.
As usual, I will not be booking any hotels in advance, so that I can make the task of finding a room a mandatory experience for using the language and learning about the city. I have no guidebooks, no plans, and no timetables other than the flight I must be on to come home.
I can't wait to share what I learn when it's done!