American Expat Gleefully Passes German Integration Course

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“Yeaaahhh BUDDY!” — Photo by Toms Bauģis (https://www.flickr.com/photos/toms/) — Subject to copyright

For the past year, I have been taking an intensive German integration course here in Hannover, Germany. The class is mandatory, requiring expats to attend 3 days per week, for 4 hours at a time, and then pass the B1 exam and an orientation course exam in the spring. If you pass the tests, you can extend your residence permit and even apply for permanent residency. The overall goal, of course, is to learn the German language and integrate into German society. Needless to say, this transition hasn’t always been a smooth one.

First, there was the language itself. Almost immediately I found German to be both logical and precise, but unnecessarily complicated. (Seriously, nouns don’t need gender-based articles unless they have, A: testicles, B: boobies, C: both, or D: neither.)

Then I encountered challenges with my German teachers. A few of them were so awesome they deserve to be showered with money and rose petals, have their toes massaged with clover honey and dipped bodily into swimming pools filled with beer and immortality. The rest of my teachers, however, were downright awful. These people should not be allowed to teach. Instead, they should be chased by killer bees into a jungle full of septic cats, which, in turn, chase them into a valley filled with molten hot lava. (And the lava has herpes.)

But of all the challenges I faced, none proved greater than the students themselves. My classmates came from all over the world — Russia, Kosovo, Latvia, Poland, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Ghana, Sudan, Senegal and The Ivory Coast — but it didn’t matter to me in the slightest which country they came from or what their socioeconomic background might have been; I only cared whether or not they took the class seriously.

Unfortunately, only a handful of us were really there to learn. We were the ones who showed up on time, did our homework and studied for the tests. We turned our cell phones off before class, payed attention to where we were in the book, and listened whenever someone — especially the teacher — was talking. In short, we were the nerds of the class, and I was their angry leader.

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“Today we are learning the word, ‘hassen,’ which means ‘to hate’…” — Photo by Shane Global (https://www.flickr.com/photos/shaneglobal/) — Subject to copyright

The rest of my classmates were obnoxious slackers who showed up each day simply because they were required to do so by the German government. They strolled in an hour or two late, interrupted class by joking around with their friends, made us repeat lessons because they never did their homework and turned each class into a unique nightmare for the rest of us. Every single teacher we had said our class was, “the worst one they’d ever taught.” Seriously, the worst one, and some of them had been teaching for years! God dammit I hated that class! And you know what’s worse? Most of the slackers were supported by the German government, so the class was essentially free for them and their public transportation expenses were reimbursed too. Since my wife is a German citizen and she has a good job, each quarter cost me €250 euros plus transportation and the cost of the books, which means I spent over €1000 euros to sit in class with a bunch of rock-banging neanderthals with the combined IQ of a pork chop.

Now, keep in mind, all of us were required to take this class and pass the DaF B1 Integrationskurs exam and the DaF Orientierungskurs exam if we wanted to extend our residence permits. It made absolutely no sense to dick around and jeopardize one’s visa status, so I studied my sweet American ass off, took both exams and prayed to that 9 pound, 7 ounce, big baby Jesus in the sky. On the last day of class, we all went up to the administration office to receive our test results, and you know what? I passed! I nailed both tests! I nailed them like a Bangkok ladyboy waking up at the docks on a Sunday morning after the sailors left town.

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“Hallelujah!” — Photo by zaphodsotherhead (https://www.flickr.com/photos/zaphodsotherhead/) — Subject to copyright.

I was so happy! Oh dear lord, it was such a weight off my mind! And best of all? I never had to return to that class again. As I walked out of the building, about ready to barf with pride, I noticed all of the slackers from my class looked very sad. Like, full-on downtrodden. Most of them scored in the A1 and A2 range, which meant they would have to repeat the entire class all over again. Oh sweet justice! I don’t normally celebrate the misfortune of others, but in this case, I wanted to drop trow, grab a fistful of my manly bits and mushroom stamp those sons of bitches right between the eyes. My scrotum would make a satisfying *BOOP* sound as it made contact, leaving behind a cartoonish red mark in the shape of a heart…

*BOOP* “You like that, Achmed? Maybe you should have studied harder instead of showing up late every class and asking questions we JUST answered half an hour ago!”

“And what about you, Franciszka? Still feel like talking to your stupid cross-eyed friend so loud I can’t even hear the teacher?” *BOOP*

*BOOP* “That one’s for you, Badrani, with your goddamn cell phone going off every 15 minutes…” *BOOP* “…and that one’s for your phone. Look, it even left a sweat mark on the screen!”

“Well hello, Fahran! What’s the matter? Do you have to repeat the class because you were always throwing shit across the room and laughing with your functionally retarded friends?” *BOOP*

“Abdulla! There you are! Remember how you always wanted to share my text book because you couldn’t afford to buy one of your own, and yet you always had a fresh pack of cigarettes in your bag? Taste my salty plums!*BOOP*

Okay, I feel better now. Thank you for reading all that. I can now put my integration class behind me and forget all about it, bit by bit, like a harrowing nightmare that is slowly receding from memory. As for next steps, I will be switching schools as soon as possible. I am hoping to find one which attracts people more like myself — huge nerds with zero tolerance for tomfoolery — so I can one day command the German language with as much irresponsibility as I do English. But first, let’s celebrate!

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“Zum Wohl!”

 


 

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45 thoughts

  1. Ich gratuliere dir! That’s a pretty big accomplishment, especially if you were starting from square one- intensive language courses always make me feel like my head is about to explode.

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  2. Wow, way to go! I’ve spent the last 6 years on a researcher’s visa and so haven’t had to go down this road (yet). Sounds like it was a terrible experience, so I’m glad to hear it’s over. :)

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  3. I stopped going to my course because I and maybe 2 others took it seriously. I am european so I don’t need the exams for permits, I was just doing it to get a better handle on the language. Now I use my own books, and online tools because it felt like such a waste of time 90% of the time. Plus the last month I was there we had a teacher who felt the need to talk about soccer instead of teaching anything. Like hey buddy, I love the sport too, but that’s not why I pay for this course. SIGH…haha I am glad you passed. I plan to take some of the level exams soon just to prove to myself that I can. :D Congrats on escaping hell!!

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  4. Gratulation! I have also taken German classes at the VHS, so I know the type of people you are talking about. Thank goodness I have already passed the TestDaF, which is one of the official German proficiency tests, meaning I never have to take a German course again.

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  5. I completed my version of this course back in January or was it February?. My school was just a bit different, we had two slackers out of 20 – and they came so rarely that they caused almost no problems. We did have an unusual number of comedians however, but they were usually on point and helped to keep the class interesting. I tell you, after being out of school for over 30 years it was a bit of a shock to go back to school… I did study my tail off though.

    I managed to obtain my B1 certificate and the Integration course certificate – and so did the majority of my class, the only one I kow didn;t make it was a poor guy who had so little real time trying to make a living that he missed too much class, but he sure kept on trying when he was there. Oh, and the slackers. Turned out they were living here (the slackers) on the government dime (or should I say Euro) and had refugee status so wouldn’t be tossed out no matter their language competence.

    Of course as I am a programmer, and work from home and I usually speak only to my wife and my clients – who are in the US – so my German isn’t a whole lot better than when I passed the exam. Worse yet, my wife is a English teacher… So rarely do we have communications issues with the language. Occasionally she or I remember that I should be polishing and improving my skills…

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  6. Prost! Sehr gut gemacht. Sorry about the douchenozzles in your class. I’m also always the geeky person who actually WANTS to learn something, and I’ve been known to piss people off by telling them off. Oh, well.

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  7. Glückwunsch! Und wer weiß, irgendwann wirst du vielleicht selbst ein Integrationslehrer sein, wenn du weiter so hart arbeitest. Und dann kannst du anderen ähnlich dummen Schülern zeigen, wo sie bleiben können …
    Ich hoffe, du hast mehr Spaß in der Aufbauklasse. :)
    And in english:
    Congrats! And who knows, some day you’ll be a integration teacher yourself if you keep up the good work :) And then you can show some of those stupid students off yourself.
    I hope you have more fun in your next class.

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  8. Congratulations! We had some slackers in my class back in 2008, but they either shaped up or stopped coming. I was fortunate in that I took my A1-B1 at Berlitz and continued on to B2 also with Berlitz. If you plan to continue with the next level, check out Berlitz. They at least have quality teachers (in my experience) and you will find fewer slackers there.

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  9. Herzliches Glückwunsch :)

    hab’ die gleiche Erfahrung gemacht wegen dieses Programs.

    Übrigens Sie können 50% Ihres Kostenbeitrag zurück kriegen.
    Füllen Sie Formular in dieser BAMF Links aus: http://www.bamf.de/SharedDocs/Anlagen/DE/Downloads/Infothek/Integrationskurse/Kursteilnehmer/AntraegeAlle/630-031_antrag-rueckerstattung-kostenbeitrag_pdf.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

    und dannach schicken Sie das Formular zu BAMF Ihrer Region. Die Adresse finden Sie hier:
    http://www.bamf.de/DE/DasBAMF/Aufbau/Aussenstellen/aussenstellen-node.html

    Alles Gute!
    /kayka

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  10. Herzlichen Glückwunsch, ab heute kann ich dann ja meine Kommentare auf Deutsch schreiben :P
    BTW, sexuelle Belästigung – that is “sexual harassement” in German – wird auch hier strafrechtlich verfolgt. Better keep your Gent’s parts to yourself. Or to whomever is consenting receiving them.

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  11. Klasse! Kann diesen Post nicht genug mögen. You sound much like Matt Inman from the Oatmeal, one of my favorite acerbic satirists. Seriously, what did these eejits expect? They got exactly what they deserved and so did you. Heb’ ein Bier hoch für mich auch. Gratuliere!

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  12. Well done, and very funny blog post! I taught high school German in the U.S. for 17 years and now English in a Förderschule in Germany. I assure you teachers live for students like you – ones who actually take class and content seriously, WANT to learn what you’re there to teach, and make visible progress because they are driven. We wish the others would just go away and we rejoice (just a little) when they’re too sick to come to class.

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  13. wow, I would hate that!
    I teach German at VHS and first 15 people came to the class, right now it has reduced to 10 but those ten are nice and motivated since it is not a course they have to do….they choose to do it. All guys from Kosovo and work during the day to take part in the course in the evening.

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  14. Congrats! I mostly loved my German class (the teachers, the learning, and the classmates), but I still felt so relieved and smug when I received the results of the exam. And as someone else already mentioned, you can get 50% of the cost back as a reward for taking it seriously. :)

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  15. Oh my, you’re experiencing ”schadenfreude” in all it’s glory right now, huh? :-) Congrats on your test! I experienced the same with my intensive French course. Half the class didn’t even want to come but had to for some reason. If it was for me those lazy-ass fucks in your class would have to be sent right back to where they come from. Unfortunately my commi government needs the votes so they keep sending them to integration classes (fuck that shit).

    Anyway, good job, man! ;-)

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  16. Congratulations! I was especially pleased when I got to the point where the slackers had their nuts cut off and they (without their nuts) were sent back to the dungeon!! Good for you.

    As a failed German language student – only dogs and small children tolerate my abuses in the language – I especially appreciate your accomplishment!

    German is not fun, though listening to someone trying to learn to speak it and show any small intelligence or retain any dignity while proficient speakers of the “devil language” snicker and wet themselves in glee and anticipation of the next failed effort to add the right article onto the noun, is!

    Whew! Say that in German and not have a mental collapse!

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  17. Congratulations! Your experience sounds *exactly* like mine here in Leipzig last year. Exactly. Well, minus the male thing at the end.

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  18. Congratulations! As I read your blog post I could not believe just how familiar your experience in this class was to my own. It is shocking how people abuse the system and behave so badly. Personally I was left feeling as though the integration course was a complete waste of my time. But alas, it is a necessary evil unless you want to pay out the ass for private lessons.

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  19. Congrats! It sounds like it would be a really cool and useful program for moving to another country with a foreign language… apart from the bumblefucks who don’t take it seriously. I would be on team angry-nerd with you. I don’t believe they require you to take courses to learn english in Canada, though they do offer them for free.

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  20. Oh don’t take the “worst class ever” comment too much to heart. Here, most teachers have the tendency to tell every single class they teach that they are the worst they have ever taught…since you do not have the honor of sitting through this again I’m afraid you won’t experience this for yourself, but I believe it is either a manifestation of the German tendency to whine endlessly or seen as some kind of motivation to behave better (which, of course, never works). After all,these students don’t just vanish…they come back, stronger than ever!!
    Congratulations on your test results and thank you for this blog!
    Oh and Schalalalaaaaaaaaa! (because some soccer results have to be celebrated until..well sunday really)

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  21. Herzlichen Glückwunsch. This takes me back to my own Integrationskurs four plus years ago. Just remember: There’s people that have been here 15-20 years and don’t speak a word of the language. Trauig, really. Now that you got a bit of school german in you it’s time for “real world” german. Trust me, it’s going to be really frustrating at times as you fumble around in your mind for the right thing to say. My advice to counter that: never stop learning.

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  22. Radical!! Congratulations, mein Freund. This sounds all too much like my nursing program. “Oh wait. The needle goes in the forearm and NOT the eyeball? Where was that in the book?”
    But you made it! The only thing I can really understand are Peppa Wutz cartoons since I haven’t practiced for years.

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  23. Congrats!!
    I LOVE the way you celebrate (and don’t tell me this blog post wasn’t part of the celebration ceremony ;-) )
    Well done!!
    Last year I had to take a course, commanded by my boss… and it was quite intense too. Surprisingly I guess I met Achmed, Franciszka, Badrani and Abdulla there too! And guess how sad they were when I passed…? LOL
    This is a great achievement. To learn German isn’t that easy – with the “die-der-das” gender based articles. *grin*

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  24. Stop insulting the poor Neanderthals! They were probably much cleverer and more evolved than we give them credit for. It’s not their fault they were ugly!
    Anyway, what I actually wanted to say was well-done and congrats and all that jazz. I went back to university in my mid-thirties and I hated the kids who would come to the lectures only to have conversations with their friends about their weekend adventures. And then had the audacity to shoot me dirty looks when I dared to ask them to please lower their voices so that I could understand the professor I was actually there to listen to. I ended up sitting in the front row in most of these lectures and felt like a right ass-kissing twit, but at least I graduated in the top 5% of my year – despite my advanced age and simultaneously incubating a baby (and despite my obviously bad hearing).

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  25. Herzlichen Glückwunsch! Many congrats on surviving the class and passing the Prüfung! I’m in the middle of an Integrationskurs as well here in Berlin. I had taken German language classes before in New York, but was only for 4 hours on a Saturday morning and this was before my son was born three years ago. So even though I’ve had exposure with my German wife and visiting Germany, taking the Integrationkurs has put some rocket fuel in my language skills along with being immersed by life here. I’m actually understanding when to use Nominativ/Akkusativ/Dativ cases (at least way more than before)!

    My class is 5 days a week, 4½ hours (with two breaks) each day. Like you, since my wife is working I have to pay 120€ per month, plus 13€ for each new book (save the receipts, you can use them when filing taxes!). We have one teacher for Monday-Wednesday and another Thursday and Friday. Both are nice and helpful, although the second one is a bit more “fun” (maybe because she’s younger). The class size has varied between 10 and 15 due to some classmates taking the class as an additional 300 hours after they failed previous attempts and then taking a Prüfung. It’s interesting to be the only native English speaker (I think a few others know a little English, but we rarely use it) and only person from the Western Hemisphere in the class. It’s a bit uncomfortable when you have Russian, Vietnamese and Turkish as the Geheimsprache (as I call them *lol*) and you don’t understand anything.

    Most of my classmates are nice and relatively smart. We’ve had a few problem children, one who came to class late who was very lazy, gawking at the ladies and was probably stoned, and a couple of who didn’t respect anyone and chatted in Russian while class was going on. One of the teachers who knows Russian told me that she’s glad that I don’t know Russian because they were saying some pretty bad crap about other classmates including about America (i.e. me). I didn’t have to understand, but I could tell by the tone of their voices that they were disrespectful. Those last ones were kicked out of our class and put in other ones. There’s also the cell phone issue, but not too bad. I put my phone on vibrate, since I use my phone to use the LEO dictionary (http://dict.leo.org/) which is awesome (I still lug around my paper dictionary as well if I need help choosing from the various translations).

    Right now we have a two week summer break, and even after the weekend, my brain is starting to die. How am I supposed to keep in my memory all the personal pronouns we just learned in my head? Ich habe meinem Vater/meinem Enkelkind/meiner Oma/meinen Eltern ein Bild geschenkt. ihr/ihr/ihm?…Oje! *THUMP* Ok, gotta find some time to stick my head in the book and let my brain soak it up! In my local library I found the magazine “Deutsch perfekt” and it looks promising to read through. Also Deutsche Welle has Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten.

    Ok, I’m babbling on so to cut it short, congrats, live long and prosper (I haven’t watch Star Trek in German so I’m not sure how this translates in Synchronisieren), and keep it up (and this awesome blog)!

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  26. Congratulations, I recently came across your blog and you are so funny and I totally relate with what you are saying. I can hardly wait to finish my course, it`s a challenge, and not just because of the complicated language, but mostly because of the hartzies I have in my class and also because of the teachers here.

    I`m in Germany for 4 months and I started a German Integration Course (A1) last year in November and I am already counting the days until it´s over. I have classes 5 days a week, 3 hours per day in a town located 30 km from where I live. Our class is also international: we have people from Irak, Turkey, Sudan, Russia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, The Philippines, Thailand, Syria, Kazakhstan, Greece, Colombia and Romania. All good. Except some people here are required to come otherwise they stop getting money from the government or they are kicked out of Germany and guess what, they are the ones who disrupt the class, are disrespectful, are loud during class and so on, you know very well how that is. I´m one of the people who are there to actually learn this language, I`m not required by German law to do so, it´s just that I want to be able to get around in this country without sounding like I am mentally disabled.

    I forgot to mention that in my class there are 5 Russian speakers and one of the teachers is also Russian. You can imagine the rest. Oh, I could rant about this for hours :)

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  27. Ho man you are too funny. Perfect summary, sadly it feels like I have been taking the course with the same people! I’m wrapping up both courses on 17 March 2016.

    You mentioned you were going on to master the language, further abuse it and someday rule the world at the end :). Since I am finding myself in a similar situation I am wondering what you have done afterwards. I have an MBA and work experience from the states but I currently work as a deliveryman since my language skills are not quite Beruf caliber. Note: my experience is in Supply Chain Management thus it is essential to speak the language the local suppliers/vendors speak.

    Thank you for any advice you can give and seriously keep up the great work!
    Nick

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