Sag nichts über die Zwillinge… the Mafia is watching!

So since I enjoyed writing about a few members of my language class last time and since I spend half my time there, I’ve decided to write a whole blog on it! Of course I’ve already mentioned the legendary Enzo and the aggressively legendary Maureen but there’s also a variety of characters I haven’t touched on.

I first started with this particular group in January and was quickly adopted in as the baby of the group, since the average age of the group is about 40. This was a B1 course but the few key members of the class had been together for about 2 years since they started A1, the first level of German.

The group is like a big family really, just with all mums and grandmas, one dad and a few kids. As its an adult course its very relaxed and can easily descend into a discussion about almost anything. We’ve talked about education, jobs, body image and of course my cousins wedding, affair and eventual love child… all in German. At first it was a shock to the system after A Level German with daily vocab tests and essay writing but I’ve learnt to love this new, much more relaxed teaching style. I also think my increase in motivation is down to the fact that I’m now learning German for myself and my future, not just to pass an exam.

Class starts promptly at 10:45… or at 11 by the time everyone has turned up, had a catch up and a quick gossip, opened every possible window for ‘frische Luft’ and settled down. We start class by going through the homework which is either asking Claudia about difficult sections or guiltily trying not to make eye contact with her when you haven’t done it. This will be followed by a 5 minute chat break and then we might start an exercise. Its so relaxed sometimes I barely realise we’re doing anything but looking back on my books, we’ve really covered a lot.

Now onto the characters of the group! It may seem odd to call them characters but really they seem like people from a book and since we’re all thrown together in such a strange situation, it really feels totally bizarre sometimes.

Firstly, Nicki one of my favourites. She’s from Holland but living and working in Germany. Shes in her late forties and has a daughter the same age as me but she always loves to group herself in with the ‘young people’ when it is brought up. She is a lovely person and always dressed so well and sophisticated. She sits on the opposite end of the room to the teacher Claudia like 2 queens sitting at the head of the table.

Now with the next person I’m going to tell you about I’m stepping into very risky territory… Natalia is a middle aged Russian housewife. Let me rephrase that; shes a Russian mafia wife. And no I’m not just saying that because shes Russian. She dresses in the most expensive looking clothes, hair and nails done impeccably with a different Prada bag under her arm every lesson. She also has 2 phones which she explained to us; one is for Munich and one is for Moscow…mysterious. Also (aside from the mafia thing) she’ll randomly just walk out of class at any time, for any amount of time and then return mysteriously with just a cup of hot water from the coffee machine downstairs. The class lasts for about 2 hours with a 15 minute break halfway so it’s not difficult to sit through. But I guess when you’re in the Russian mafia you can do what you please…

My next person and a surprise return to the class just the other day is Anna. Shes originally from Russia but lived in America for a few years before moving to Germany. Due to this she loves to speak English whenever she can. Unfortunately this means that her German sometimes (all the time) fades into English at the end of the sentence. This is perfect for me as I think I can understand all of her German but of course I do when half of it is in my native language! Recently, Anna was missing from class which led to her being the subject of a whole lessons-worth of discussion. The topic of the lesson was ‘Vermutungen’ or assumptions so we had to use a specific grammar structure to voice our assumptions on where Anna was. This ranged from ‘her kids might be ill’ to ‘she might have fled the country’. Fortunately she returned to class the other day and continued her work in consolidating ‘Ginglish’ as a language.

Another recent return to class is Snjezana, a Serbian woman in her 60’s who works at an old folks home which she never stops bloody complaining about. During winter she was absolute goals, waltzing in in a floor length fur coat every day, looking like a true Soviet dream. She smokes which always leads to her being chastised for it or being used as an example by Claudia in class. She replies which a wheezing laugh and pops another cough drop in. She once offered her cough sweets round the class so I took one out of politeness. Unfortunately it turned out to be eucalyptus flavour which made the next 5 minutes feel like I was breathing in a thousand eucalyptus leaves while standing, naked, at the North Pole. Safe to say my lungs will be clear for the next 10 years and I’ll be glad to never take one of Snjezana’s sweets again.

Aside from the many characters, me and Maureen also create our own fun in class. Maureen and I only properly met and became friends around March/April but we’re already into matching outfits. This started when I told her about the old Crossleys tradition of Formal Friday and we decided to bring it to our class to see if anyone noticed us suddenly dressing for the boardroom. This quickly developed into different themes for each week but no-one seemed to take note. We even had one of our classmates (Enzo) take a picture of us posing in our matching formal outfits but still he said nothing. Eventually we got sick of the shade from our classmates and straight up went out and bought matching T-shirts. We turned up to class in our completely matching outfits, made a quick Boomerang and catwalked into the classroom. We got a few dodgy looks, but no comments yet. It wasn’t until the break when one of the au pair girls mentioned our matchingness and said that she’d noticed us matching before but thought it too rude to mention it. We considered this a victory in our matching game and rewarded ourselves with an after-class ice cream. See below a preview of our v professional Boomerang shoot.