Some Unexpected German Resources

Hyunmin Kim
March 3, 2019

After a month and a half living in Vienna, I found some interesting German resources that I’d like to share today. 

Of course, there are our main resources, such as the German classes and faculty of IES Abroad, language buddies, and RAs (if you are living in an apartment). The following are resources other than the obvious:

Church Masses
Vienna has many catholic churches with weekly masses. The masses have been a surprisingly helpful German practice for me because when the priest reads the scriptures or gives a homily, they speak at a much slower speed than the usual conversation heard on the streets. And if you have had any exposure to church in the past (through reading, attending church etc.), it’s much easier to piece together the things you understand and learn new words, because you already know the context. Even if you are not Catholic, I’d argue that it’s a good cultural experience and a way to practice understanding some German. A big plus if you love music; the choir and orchestra play outstanding music written by Mozart, Haydn, Verdi, and many more artists every mass. You’ll be surprised how mind-blowing the live organ sonatas are. The ones I have been to so far are Augustinakirche’s Sunday music mass (Sunday 11am) and Stephansdom’s Sunday music mass (Sunday 10:15am). There are masses during the week as well.

The Kebab Man
There is a kebab restaurant/stand right next to the IES Abroad Center at Johannesgasse where many of us grab lunch. The owner (we call him “the kebab man”) is quite well-known for being so supportive of us learning German. He speaks and understands English perfectly, but he always lets us order in German, however slow we are. If there is a word that we don’t know, he tells us how to say it in German and waits until we make the order again in full sentence. He gets to have more regular customers, and we receive a 3-minute German course for free. Pretty good deal, I would say!

Some Kaffeehauses
Few Kaffeehauses that I have been to (i.e. Palmenhaus, Cafe Tirolerhof) had waiters who cannot speak English (or jokingly refuse to speak English—but they are sweet and nice). Then I am forced to ask questions and order in German, which in the long-run has helped tremendously. And regardless of the waiters’ English capabilities, our director Dr. Solvik told me that if you become a regular at a cafe, you can start conversing more with the Ober (the waiter) and practice more German. Although I’m refraining from going to cafes too often because my budget that is getting shorter, I’m definitely looking forward to settling down at one of my favorite cafes. 

Internship
I am not sure if this is the case for every interns from IES Abroad, but all of my bosses in my internship (which I plan to write another post on)  have been helping me with some German phrases, especially what I should be careful of. (For instance, many of us say “Servus” to show friendliness but apparently, you don’t say that to your boss or co-workers unless you know them well…)

These are just a few of my findings. There are many other ways to learn German, of course, since I am living in a German-speaking community. I’m looking forward to even more surprises and pleasant learning experiences :-)

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Hyunmin Kim

<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:.4pt; margin-right:20.45pt; margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin-left:5.5pt"><span style="line-height:103%">I am a liberal arts student majoring in mathematics and music. I play the piano and occasionally compose and orchestrate. Some would say it's blasphemy, but I love listening to pop music and I stand by it!</span></p><p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:.3pt">&nbsp;</p>

Program:
Destination:
Term:
2019 Spring
Home university:
Grinnell College
Hometown:
Grinnell, IA
Major:
Mathematics
Music
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