The process of acculturation in Germany, for me, has been particularly challenging. Every time I start to feel like I’m making progress, I encounter things which are enormously difficult for me, despite being rudimentary and simple for a native.
Purchasing concert tickets, for example.
For most of the concerts I’ve gone to this year, I’ve used eventim.de for my purchases. Eventim is a great deal like Ticketmaster, except easier to use. It also allows you to select English for the Website, so I’ve been able to get by. However, sometimes the concert I want isn’t available through Eventim and I have to go a different method.
This is where I start to have trouble. My command of the language isn’t very strong yet, so I use Google Chrome, which translates German to English on the fly. The only problem is that the translations aren’t always precise, so I really have to employ some educated guesswork.
The word Karte can be a problem. Karte can refer to a map, a card (such as a credit card,) or a ticket. You can imagine the confusion when you’re being asked to put enter payment information.
Dates are reversed here. Using the first day of summer as an example, when I arrived, I thought the first day of summer was written as June 21st, 2012. Here in Germany, it’s written 21 June 2012. This is also true on Internet forms. This leads to still more confusion: Is my card’s expiration 11/2 or 2/11?
Many of the line items on order forms don’t translate very well to English. The idea for this post popped up while I was fighting with an order form for a concert ticket in Mannheim. It took me three tries to successfully navigate the form to completion. I was ultimately successful, but I would not have been able to place that order without help a year ago.