Ich heiße Ivana

Das ist Obi, er hat die Flossen und macht so fliiii, fliiii“,children’s voice woke me up while something raggy was touching my cheek. I opened my eyes and saw a little girl with messy hair and a rag animal in her hands. It was Romi and hear seal Obi. My first morning in Berlin. I’m confused.

I would say for myself that I can speak German, or so I thought – I passed all my exams with the best grades and considered it as a confirmation of language knowledge. As a solid confirmation of my knowledge I had my diploma, signed by the German language lector. It´s all awesome and cool, but how to pack all that knowledge in a sentence to a four years old, that would say her that her Obi was so beautiful and that I had a similar toy when I was little. I started telling something like that, while listening to my voice, so funny and stiff, rough and unimaginative, like a real foreigner that I actually was. All my grammar knowledge must’ve slipped away on that first morning in Berlin and I found myself trapped in a conversation with a four year old child.

     Romi 3     Romi 2

After a while came Janos and began playing with his pirates, dragons and legos around me, while explaining in detail who was who and who of them has the magical powers. I understood all of that he was saying, but I was completely dumb, unable to continue the conversation, and I just wanted to tell him how kites are super beings and how I love the fact that they used to be best friends of the knights. Fortunately, children tolerance is endless, Romi and Janos were just talking and letting me listen and ask the simple question ‘Was, wo, wohin, wer?’

               Janos ruke

Their mother Nadine, my host I just met the previous day (who later became my friend), served me breakfast, we chatted in English, although I insisted that we speak German. But in situations when you meet someone new and find out that you have so many things in common, it is difficult to use language in which you know one word for one term. For example, I’m using at least seven terms in Serbian to describe the word ´beautiful´ and in German for the same concept I’m familiar with the word ´beautiful´, that is ‘schön’ and that’s it. So I get bored by myself while talking. Nadin was encouraging and delighted with my ‘German’, while during all our conversatios I kept thinking ‘How polite of her to be so comforting´. As the day was passing, we told our life stories and figured out that we will have a lot to talk about in the future.

    Nadine 1     Janos 1

The whole first day (and a few weeks after) I messed around, switching between English and German, and beside that switching I was also speaking Serbian with my people who called to check how I travelled and how I settled down.
In the evening I took some time to talk again with Romi and Janos, and before I went to sleep I asked them ‘Do you understand me when I speak in German?’. They nodded and said ‘Yes!’. If you believe a children’s honesty, I really do speak German. That thought comforted me at bedtime and brought a good feeling. ‘Gute Nacht, Ivana!´, I told to myself, and fell to sweet sleep under bright summer sky of Berlin.

     Janos     Romi