It all starts with Star Wars. Or, it could have been Sven our aptly named German foreign exchange student when I was a freshman in high school. I say, aptly named as I grew up in America’s Little Sweden…the name Sven is plastered on just about every building. Or one. As you drive into town.

I had chosen, as I am the black sheep of my family, to take Spanish instead of German as a foreign language when I entered high school. However, at the very same time that I was starting high school we had a foreign exchange student from Germany stay with us for a few weeks, before my brother went to study in Germany for a few weeks. I decided, upon venturing with the German foreign exchange students to family outings that there was a hot exchange student as well as a senior that I was madly crushing on that spoke German.

I would learn German, too!

Of course, I could not fit two foreign languages into my schedule and so I was to study German independently with Frau, my family at home and Sven.

I made it through only the first few chapters, and I lost interest. Why did I need to know how to say “I am going (by walking) towards my house?”

Well, apparently for the hilarity of my family while we visited Austria nearly ten years later.

My sister had studied abroad the first semester of her Junior year in college, in Salzburg, Austria. It was decided that the rest of the tribe would fly in and we would celebrate the holidays in Salzburg, Prague, Vienna and Munich. I was dating my boyfriend for only the second Christmas (I married him, so we have a lifetime to celebrate Christmas together now) and I was a mopey crabfest.

One night, the entire family went to the Augustinerbrau and I loosened up by drinking some radlers. After one, my sister decided that it would be a good idea if I tried to speak to the guys at the bar in my German.

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Luckily, I remembered yet another riveting phrase from my short stint studying the constant and saliva filled language.

“Du die rokmusik hier ist toll.”

So, I sidled up to two guys around my age at the bar and employed my handy and bar-friendly phrase.

They stared at me like I was insane as my sister laughingly stepped in and cleared up the fact that I was German illiterate.

All I could think as I shamefacedly walked away was the last of my German phrases.

“Mit die Macht mit Dir sein.”

(May the Force Be With You).

Clearly, saving any bar cred I had left.

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