This is a picture of me and my German husband, Joerg, at a VW Christmas party 2012 in Herndon, VA. During this time I was living in the Washington DC area and working as a Destination Consultant.
Living in a foreign culture, one is likely to make many mistakes. Some small, some big, and some very embarrassing. I had a two day awkward incidents two days in a role here in Braunschweig, Germany. It's when I know I look like a fool and want to kick myself in the pants (that's trousers in British). My German is ok for the most part. I get want I want and need basically with words, actions, mimes and the occasional google translator. Some days I think it is best just to keep my mouth shut and just act like I am just too cool for words. (Believe it or not, it actually works.)
I would not call me fluent at the moment. There was a time when I was better at speaking German than I am today. In a nut shell, the five year hiatus in the US put my language skills on the back burner. The older I get, the less interested I am in spending my precious reading time on conjugating German verbs. In short, improving my language skills lost its lustre (this word shows up in the British dictionary but apparently the Yankees yanked it out). Here's what happened:
Day 1: Reload my son's cell phone (that's mobile in British). I went to the Dibitel shop to get a phone card thinking I had to get a special Debitel card. The guy behind the counter sneers at me with the "are you dumb, lady" as he points out it says Vodaphone on the invoice stating that I can buy a phone card at any gas station. I knew that; I just had to be sure. He sells me the card and gives the "get outta here look". As I walk out I sheepishly say that sometimes you got to learn the hard way.....he was not amused.
Day 2: Dealing with the house painters. This embarrassing tidbit still makes me cringe. I wanted to be kind to the painters inviting them in the use the toilette if needed. I said instead something to the effect of "toilette...it's good...be happy use it....I do when I need to..." They stared at me blankly, lowering their eyes to avoid me. I got the feeling they wished I had keep my mouth shut as now they have to deal with this uncomfortable conversation.
Putting my foot in my mouth and mortifying myself is part of the expat life experience. I've learnt over the years not to hate myself for it but laugh at myself and the situation. It hasn't always been easy but accepting it as the bigger process makes it a lot easier.