Suddenly single - going out, making new friends

22 posts in this topic

Hello all,

 

I came to Germany 4 years ago for work with my husband and two kids.

Sadly, my husband left (we are divorcing) and I find myself alone, in my 40s, still not speaking German since I work in English (although I took German courses up to B1.1 level) & no close friends - my husband was my best friend for over 20 years and I thought it was enough to concentrate on work and my family.

 

I'm staying here in Germany because my kids are the only close family I have now and here I have a Job. 

 

How do I meet new people without speaking German? I want to go out & have fun, talk to people, make friends, date, learn to actually speak German, have playdates for my dog.

Are there any group meetings of forum members in the Heidelberg area? I don't have a car but can get to wherever the Tram #5 goes

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Sorry to hear that life hasn't panned out as you'd hoped. It's not easy to make a new start. That said, in terms of meeting people you've got a few things in your favour: a dog, kids (I'm guessing from your age, they might not be grown up?) and a job. Each of those provides opportunities to meet people. Your only limiting factor seems to be the language, so that would be the best place for you to start.

People on this forum seem to have gone to various language lessons/courses (perhaps your local VHS?), so I guess that might work and kind of kills two birds with one stone. I would suggest that most important would be to make a determined effort to use what ever German you have as much as possible. Start watching German TV, try reading German papers, and each time you go out, make a point of just passing the time of day with the other dog walkers in German. The natives love it.

I assume your kids speak German. Whilst it's a big step (because moving to your "weaker" language does impact the power balance in relationships), you could start speaking German with them. If you really want to learn the language you have to push yourself. Yeah, you'll feel tongue-tied and it can be frustrating, and it's always so easy to make excuses for not learning, but if you are serious about making a life for yourself here, you need to get through that stage (which will take a while). Oh, and don't worry about making mistakes. You can always repeat yourself or try other words: when the punters find out that your mother tongue is English, they'll cut you tonnes of slack anyway.

You'll find that once you speak the language, it'll be much easier to interact with other parents, other dog walkers and the non-Germans where you work. With dog owners in particular, it's so easy to get to know someone - just tell them their dog looks nice (even if it's a sh:tty rat-looking thing) or is behaving in a cute/cheeky way etc. 

On the up side, you can always take a break from speaking German and b:tch about life in Germany (including the language) on this forum.

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22 hours ago, dstanners said:

Sorry to hear that life hasn't panned out as you'd hoped. It's not easy to make a new start.

Thanks so much! It is not easy at all...

 

My kids are in high school, so still at home. The oldest speaks German, the youngest refuses to speak German in my presence, but has good grades in school...

 

I took language courses at the Pedagogium in Heidelberg (Neuenheim). I can understand some German listening and reading (at B1 learner level or professional stuff with familiar vocabulary) but I just cannot speak. I'm missing a lot of words or forget the ones I know when I struggle to built a sentence with the der-die-das and accusative/dative and the right prepositions. I will check what the VHS in Heidelberg offers (I think that's the closest one to me).

 

I don't have a TV but I have internet... any recommended movies or shows I can watch? When I studied Spanish many years ago watching Argentinian telenovelas really helped me because of the simple story line, limited vocabulary and repetitions. Someone recommended "Sturm der Liebe" but I couldn't find it online with subtitles.

 

I actually really like my life here - it feels peaceful and safe. I feel, at least at work and among the few Germans I know, accepted for who I am. Though most of the people I know here are well traveled academics so might not represent the majority of Germans.  And I love using ground public transportation to go to other countries! 

 

I just feel so lonely all of a sudden. 

 

 

optimista - the square dancing sounds wonderful - they have an open night for beginners next month so I'm going to give it a try!

 

And if anybody wants to organize a get-together of forum members in Heidelberg or Mannheim, I'll gladly join. 

 

 

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23 hours ago, elle_hd said:

I don't have a car but can get to wherever the Tram #5 goes

 

I'm not trying to be mean, honest, but that sounds strange and possibly very limiting.  I assume you could actually travel just about anywhere public transport could take you, right?

 

I have had similar problems developing my German skills, understanding far far more than I can say.  It's very frustrating.  I'd encourage you to NOT take more classes at this juncture but to focus on speaking German more often.  dstanners offered some good tips for that but I think a tandem partner is unbeatable as you're both in it to learn (no guilt about wasting someone's time with your bad German :) ), and there is still a social aspect to it.  Even just writing in German helps a lot.  The key is you need to strive to PRODUCE German language and not just absorb it.  Alternately, you might be able to find a conversation practice group/meetup, or consider starting one yourself?  

 

my favorite german TV show (it's on netflix and probably elsewhere) is Tatortreiniger.  love love love it.  But I have to worry that many tv shows use very stilted, strange language that doesn't translate to real life. I get your point about soap operas being fairly easy to follow but I also think of how silly I would sound if I spoke like that.  I do think documentaries can be helpful as they cover a really wide range of topics and there is often more natural/unscripted speech included when they interview someone or similar.  Lots of weird accents too :)

 

dw.de has a huge library of video/audio resources for learners too.  also a few good training courses.  But really you should focus on speaking.

 

 

 

 

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There are lots of cultural programmes (food, architecture, nature, science) on the TV channel Arte with good simple subtitles in German. You can look them up via the internet on the Arte Mediathek. 

 

Big life changes involve courageous steps. Make sure that you adjust your stride to a pace you can keep up and still have a liitle in reserve. And be kind to yourself. Things will come together if you give them time.

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31 minutes ago, lisa13 said:

 

I'm not trying to be mean, honest, but that sounds strange and possibly very limiting.  I assume you could actually travel just about anywhere public transport could take you, right?

 

 

Why would you assume that? You may not be trying to be mean but you definitely come across as crass.

 

Perhaps you could take off your Munich centred rose tinted spectacles and look at the situation at hand when assuming you know more about the logistics of other peoples family lives than they do themselves. 

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I don't live in HD, so I can't give anything information specific to the city. But, here is what should work: Search for Groups on Facebook and Meetups.com, for generic expat events and attend a few that might interest you. There offer a good chance to meet similar people like you.

 

You can also search for groups that engage in subjects, hobbies and activities that you are interested in. If you can't find anything close enough, attend a few that fits the closest, talk to people and form a smaller group (whatsapp for instance) with those who you want to hang around with.

 

It may also help to prioritize what you are looking for in this new phase of life. being single again, as much as you didn't plan for it, is still a chance to focus on you as a person, free from any of the familial responsibilities.  There are a lot of options out there for you: Making new friends, discover your new sides, new hobbies and interests, another relationship , learn the language and find ways of settling down here in Germany, maybe travel, career and so on. This helps with bringing a better perspective in planning out the things, and setting up a regularity in life.

Good luck!

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OP, look at Meetup.com.  I just now looked and there are numerous groups in your area.  There is likely something that meets your requirements.

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Upon arriving in Germany I took out a subscription to Stern magazine (you need to unsubscribe for the next year as soon as you sign up or it will roll over indefinitely.) Not even really my sort of mag, but it had short articles with everyday language, that you can dip into for a few minutes. SEEING written German you absorb it differently than it if is flying past your ear. I found it less stultifying than tryng to wade through a newspaper.

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Have you thought of joining an activity with your dog? e.g. Mantrailing, dummy training etc. There are private doggy schools but also Hundeplätze. Some (very few) stick to the "old ways" of training and are made up of bitter old men, but most are fun. If you are interested, I can check some websites for you and see what I can find. 

That way you could meet new people and you already know you have a common interest. 

 

It sounds like your comprehension skills are fine and now you "just" need to make yourself speak. 

Are you going to sound like an idiot? Probably at some point, but probably not as much as you think. 

Forget about der/die/das and which ending this or that case calls for. 

 

A language tandem is also a great idea. Depending on how old your kids are, you can definitely rope them in to help. Just make them understand that, in order to stay here, they need to do their bit in making you feel more at home, too. 

 

Re: shows: Stuff you have watched before is also good. The advantage of dubbed shows - horrible as they might seem - is that it is much easier to understand what is being said as it is recorded separately. Cartoons, if you like soaps, the original German ones would be Lindenstrasse, Verbotene Liebe and Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten. A bit like Telenovelas with only slightly less drama. 

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4 hours ago, elle_hd said:

I took language courses at the Pedagogium in Heidelberg (Neuenheim). I can understand some German listening and reading (at B1 learner level or professional stuff with familiar vocabulary) but I just cannot speak. I'm missing a lot of words or forget the ones I know when I struggle to built a sentence with the der-die-das and accusative/dative and the right prepositions. I will check what the VHS in Heidelberg offers (I think that's the closest one to me).

The VHS is doing a free fortnightly German conversation class starting in October. You don't need to sign up, just go along.

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5 hours ago, elle_hd said:

I'm missing a lot of words or forget the ones I know when I struggle to built a sentence with the der-die-das and accusative/dative and the right prepositions.

 

Ignore that grammar stuff - just get vocabulary & start talking - prefferably to people with similar interests (dog?).  Just slur your words a bit, add the Martian accent (as per your profile) & you will get better all the time.

 

I can't remember any of the der-die-das thing (randomly have a 33% chance of being correct) but can hold a lecture involving my sport or just talk to people & they appear to understand me.  Sometimes they even applaud after the lecture (they did last time I spoke in Boberg/Hamburg)!

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3 hours ago, notme said:

It may also help to prioritize what you are looking for in this new phase of life. being single again, as much as you didn't plan for it, is still a chance to focus on you as a person, free from any of the familial responsibilities.  There are a lot of options out there for you: Making new friends, discover your new sides, new hobbies and interests, another relationship , learn the language and find ways of settling down here in Germany, maybe travel, career and so on. This helps with bringing a better perspective in planning out the things, and setting up a regularity in life.

Good luck!

It's true - I need to prioritize. This breakup is new and overwhelming. Going home in the evening to the home we used to share and the evening routines that were ours is hard. I feel the need to do a lot and try new things that are just mine and devoid of his memory to distract myself from the heartache. 

 

Thanks for the recommendation for meetup.com - I didn't know it existed. 

 

Also thanks for the TV recommendations - I will check Netflix and Arte website. My kids have some German movies they like, maybe we should introduce a weekly movie night on the weekend and include them. I tried DW but found their online courses extremely boring.

 

I usually go to lunch with a few German colleagues, but I mainly listen and don't talk much (If I do and I don't know some words, the conversation quickly switches to English). I will also check the other conversation opportunities, including tandem and evening activities. There is one Hundesport class where I live. I've met the instructor before - she is really nice and doesn't speak any English which is perfect! 

 

I really appreciate all your answers, advice, encouragement, understanding and support - you are wonderful, thank you!

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7 minutes ago, elle_hd said:

I usually go to lunch with a few German colleagues, but I mainly listen and don't talk much (If I do and I don't know some words, the conversation quickly switches to English).

Which is why you need to find a circle of friends who don't speak English - easier said than done but you have a dog...

 

When I first came to DE the working language at the lab was English.  It was only when I got involved with the sport (learning to fly gliders) where people either did not speak English or at least did not let on that the did, that I started to learn the language.  Learning to fly was easier...

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I ask the people i work with to correct my German which some do, I also when unsure, say alternatively endings to a word in a questioning manner and someone will always give me the right answer, e.g. Gelegen or gelegt - depending on circumstance.

 

As for us, we have a dog and we are a members of a local Dog Club, my wife and daughter do most (all) of the training but if I was by myself it would help because you have to talk to the person doing the training. They also do a Tafel evening and other social events. There's also the friends of your kids - Ubernachten for example or joining in school activities. We live the otherside of Mannheim on the S1 S Bahn. PM me if you want more help. No this is not a chat up, my wife's suggestion.

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On 8/20/2019, 6:59:00, LukeSkywalker said:

Tip of the day: don't date these SAP-nerds living in Heidelberg and surroundings :).

As a science nerd myself...

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I was about to suggest hanging out with our kids, until I read that the kids are already in Highschool. Our children are 1 and 4 - so we are out. 

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