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.
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.
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!