Today–which was so hectic and crazy that I don’t want to talk about it (seven or eight museums selling the crap they can’t move in their gift shops at discounted prices in a crowded zoo)–I ended up having lunch with the intern who’s working at the museum this semester. He’s also in the class I’m taking–though he’s an undergrad, ’cause it’s a mixed class–so we were talking about the course, and about other school-related things. And I commented how I was trying to figure out how to meet my language requirements for my Master’s Degree.
We have to be able to translate a certain number of words out of an academic book in a set amount of time. (We will have a dictionary on hand, of course, but actual competence in the language is still required, naturally.) And although I was good at it when I studied it twenty years ago, my best foreign language–German–is much too rusty to have any hope of succeeding at such a task. (More like “only” than best, considering the only others I ever achieved any level of competence in were ancient languages.) And since self-instruction books have not panned out for me, I realize I’m going to have to take a course of some variety. (Have I said all this before?)
Anyway, another local university offers a summer course for graduate students, an intensive course intended to give them the required competence to pass such tests. (My own school has similar summer offerings, though not aimed specifically at graduate students, but not in German.) That’s the good news. The bad news is two-fold. One, it meets five days a week. (But at least it isn’t at 9:30 in the morning!) Two, it’s in two separate sessions, both needed for maximum effect, and they each cost almost $4,000. My father offered to pay for them, but even if it is someone else’s money, it’s still a lot of money! I might be able to work a deal through both schools to get to take one of the sessions at the tuition rate of my own school, but probably not both. (And possibly not either. I need to start knocking on office doors and getting information about the prospect.)
So I mentioned the pricing dilemma to the intern, and he said that it would cost less than that to spend the summer in Germany to learn the language there, in one of the university’s study abroad programs.
So now I totally want to do that. There are a lot of things I’d love to see in Germany. (Though I feel ashamed to admit that most of them are antiquities from other countries.)
But I looked in the Study Abroad program thingy on my university’s website, and it looks like that program’s for undergrads only. Plus it’s in Stuttgart, and most of what I want to see is in Berlin. (Though one could always stay a while longer, of course.) The not-for-graduate-students part is the real problem, of course. I mean, maybe they wouldn’t mind, and it just wouldn’t count towards my degree (which it wouldn’t anyway) but maybe they would. Plus I’m not sure when the application deadline is. (Probably several months ago.)
I now feel tempted to look around online and see if there are independent language schools I could go to, in Germany, to (re-)learn the language. That would be totally sweet. Though if they were independent, they’d probably cost a lot more.
And, actually, now that I think about it, I’m not sure I could survive the plane trip over there. Between my knees, my back and ever-increasing airport security hassles, I might not make it without going crazy. That’s a depressing thought; there are a lot of things I want to see in far-off foreign climes…