Arriving in Vught
I recently started a new job in the HR department of a company which has a German parent company. I quickly realised: ‘I will never manage with the German I learned at school.’ During my intake appointment, the trainer suggested I follow an intensive individual German course. Apparently, the best way to get over being timid is by really focusing on learning the language in a short stretch of time. I knew it!
I left for Vught early Sunday evening. When I arrived, the lobby was calmly buzzing with activity. I was shown to my room and invited to come have a drink in the bar. The room in the guest accommodation was modern and rather small, but as the week progressed, that proved to be exactly what I needed.
After breakfast, a German trainer explained my schedule to me. Every day was fully planned. I started wondering whether I would even have the chance to unpack my workout clothes. I didn’t have long to think about it, though, because the bell went and everyone stood up to leave: time to start! I had to go to the second floor for my first lesson with Frau Gratzer. I noticed that I was pretty nervous, but I got over it quickly when a graceful woman welcomed me: Claudia from Germany. I would be starting every morning by having business conversations with her. Before I knew it, I was talking away about my work. The hour just flew by! Yes!
I spent the second hour in the language laboratory, where exercises which Claudia had specially chosen for me were waiting for me when I logged in. I already knew how e-Regina worked because I had used it to prepare for my course. When the bell went, it was breaktime and everyone went downstairs. Coffee—bring it on!
Programme until 21.00
I started the day with yoga lessons along with five other students. Some of them had never done yoga before, but they could do all the poses just fine. Then a quick shower, and it was off to the restaurant for breakfast.
Tuesday was more or less the same as Monday, except for the fact that speaking was coming much more easily to me. On Monday I had time for a quick run before dinner, but this evening I had group training. I played a game in German with a group of people who had about the same abilities as I had. It was really hilarious at times! Afterwards, we all had dinner together with our trainer in the restaurant and spoke German the whole time. It was so fun that we decided to go have a quick drink in the bar after dinner. Then I went straight to bed.
Wednesday…wow. I didn’t know what to do. I was tired and didn’t know anything any more. Not that I wasn’t enjoying the course—it was just so overwhelming. The receptionist gave me a paracetamol and told me that what I was going through was completely normal. I was so happy that another yoga session was planned for the evening; it was exactly what the doctor ordered. I slept like a baby that night.
All of a sudden, speaking is a piece of cake!
Thursday was the complete opposite of Wednesday. Fabulous! It all felt so effortless. One of my trainers knew exactly what was going on. ‘Yes, indeed. A lot of people get a surge of energy on the fourth day because they get into a flow–that’s when you notice how much you’ve learnt.’ That evening I had group training again. Did we ever laugh when we were talking about the famous people we would invite to dinner if we had the chance. The dinner afterwards was so different to Tuesday. What a vibe! But then a German one, of course! That evening we stayed up a bit later than the ones before…
Proud last day
And then Friday. A day of goodbyes. A goodbye to the trainers at the end of each lesson. I talked about the week and the progress I’d made with my mentor. I was so proud! I couldn’t wait to get home and tell everyone about my week. At the same time, I also didn’t want it to end.
My course in a nutshell: tough, insightful and fun. It was an unforgettable experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat.