36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 010: German is hard, yes it is


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 10 — German is hard, yes it is
12-August-1971 (Thur.)


Class is still good but very hard. Teacher said to stay in and do my best. All that is spoken is German.

Biggest let-down at night. Guitar concert was sold out.


This is a short journal day. Since part of the reason for this blog is to inspire both young and old alike to not be afraid to try new things, rediscover the joy of discovery, and go for that dream, I thought I should comment a bit on "learning." Remember, I was your age when I wrote this journal.

German is hard. Obviously, I'm finding the total-immersion German class very difficult. Learning German is hard. Learning anything "new" is hard. Whenever you do anything new, it is always harder to do. Pick any subject—algebra, Shakespeare, black-hole-dark-matter-string-theory physics, Schenkerian musical analysis, even English—it's never easy. Unless you're a genius, and I'm not.

Here is how I learn. It's very traditional, not "fuzzy" at all.

Listen: It helps to actually listen to the professor or teacher as he or she speaks in class. Unplug that iPod from your ear child, and pay me some attention. Me bad. You bad. Listen and learn.

Take notes: When someone speaks to you, for 45 minutes or more, do you remember most of what is said? No! I am a believer in there being a direct link between your fingertips holding a pen or pencil, and the brain. I can prove it. Well, I can’t. But I’m certain someone can. There is evidence that same link may exist between your fingers, the computer keyboard, and the brain. (As long as you’re not on the Internet, which is famous for brainless activity.)

Review: Same principle. Once is not enough. Review your notes and reading in your books. This is sometimes referred to as studying, or re-reading. This is not memorizing. Remember me saying that I couldn’t remember the face of that extraordinarily beautiful Spanish girl I was speaking to in Grinzing? A second date would have clinched my remembering what she looked like. Read, review, study. Fact! Street cred.

Use it. Finally, do something with the knowledge. Use it in some manner. That's why you get assignments, questions to answer, reports and such. All of this leads to thinking and learning.

Don't give up. Learning takes time. Just do it. Things will get easier. It's never too late to start learning. It's never too early to start learning.

I can’t tell you how many graduate classes I’ve taken where I didn’t know anything at the beginning of the class. I took a lot of notes. By the end of the course, I would be surprised at how much more I knew.

Disclaimer: Do NOT enroll in any doctoral courses of study in Austrian or German universities that require the reading of German books, unless you have extraordinary reading/writing/aural German-language skills. Happy Just a helpful suggestion. I had a little bit of a break, music is the universal language.

I hate being so serious. I did enjoy learning in this German course, despite my whining.

Moving on.

Hey, my first attempt to go to a concert at night failed. Sold out! I can’t remember who it was. (maybe John Williams, guitarist?) Can Google go back in time? Back 36yearsago?