“Ist mir egal,” I answered to the question whether we should continue the meeting in German or English. It just slipped out, without a thought. What a bloody dumb thing to do, eh? To be fair, me and another fellow Dutchie started to continue the conversation in Dutch, but it didn’t work out. We’re on their turf here. No Dutch allowed. This is my general experience after two years here: Give Germans a chance, and they’ll choose speaking German over English any time. Maybe it’s normal in other countries too, but I never really got it. Seriously, I can’t even discuss my science in Dutch. I wouldn’t be able to find the right words. I once had to write a Dutch summary for my PhD dissertation. Fucking awful. Luckily hardly anyone understands Dutch, so the shame of this trainwreck of a summary will forever remain low. Discussing microbe-plant-insect interactions in Dutch? It would be a terrible conversation. Nah, I’d prefer English over Dutch in ecology talk any time. In all honesty, I would by now also prefer German over Dutch to have a work conversation. But English is always preferred. But I didn’t think today. I gave them the chance, and consequently listened to Germans being German for about ten hours today. Luckily the content was interesting, but nonetheless, speaking third language consumes a lot of energy. But it’s good. Bit by bit, my German improves. It’s +0.5% better today than it was yesterday. In the end everyone is happy. German collaborators, accept my apologies for my kindergarten level German, and many thanks for being kind conversationalists.
As a completely unrelated anecdote, a professor asked me today how I managed to write so many blog posts. Answer: There’s no weird secret. You just do it. If you want it, you can do it too.