What’s so funny?

In The Art of Travel Spring 2017, 13. Third person, Berlin by Veda Kamra1 Comment

Veda is a quirky person. She is willing to do go forth and be adventurous, especially under direction, but she likes to do her own thing. Every now and then she has a more quiet day, however in general, she is happy to participate. Admittedly, her German is rather crude in its pronunciation, however she continues speaking with pauses rather than giving up altogether. She also asks a lot of questions, expressing her eagerness to learn the language.

 It’s clear when she has a question because her face is incredibly expressive of her thoughts – perhaps too expressive…Veda is a bit awkward and giggly but she takes class seriously and it is clear that she wishes to absorb as much German as possible. She chuckles and her eyes expand when she hears clunky German words. Her pronunciation is admittedly not great, especially when she is put on the spot; I will go around the class and ask each person to verbally differentiate between different sounds such as u and ü, she gets nervous and tense and spits out some confusing noises. She will laugh it off and make a funny face and try again, quietly, to herself. She exclaims “that is so cute !!!!!” when we speak of German traditions and phrases which peak her interest. She seems a little dorky; her jokes are rather corny, especially because she seems to find so much to be interesting or funny, even when no one else in the class does. She seeks to get to know her peers, but is rather quiet during breaks. If she’s not running to grab a bite along with the rest of the class, I often notice her sticking in headphones and tuning out for 15 minutes. It is clear that although she is friendly and inquisitive, she values her quiet time alone. I have observed that her in spite of her smiley nature, she does not have patience for indirectness or idleness. When she is in class, she takes advantage of her limited time by engaging with me and the other students. Still, I’ve noticed she’s on her phone a bit too much.

In the mornings as the students stumble in, one after another, her response to “wie geht’s?” [how is it going] is always an honest “sehr gut!” [very well] or an “ich bin müde” [I am tired]. She is okay with being “silly” and participating in class activities, which likely stems from her tendency to ask questions when she is confused. She is clearly hardworking and hands in all of her assignments, although she is occasionally in her own world. She speaks her mind, however she seems sensitive. She is a bit reserved and does not reveal very much about herself.

 I appreciate that she respects me, and it seems that even outside of class, she values my insights on Germany and is willing to engage in casual conversation with me. That is to say, that I think she views our relationship as more than a typical, sterile teacher-student dynamic, but a more friendly one. In our few chats, I have pushed her to speak with me only in German, and to this she is quite receptive, although a bit shy when she inevitably forgets a word or is unable to articulate a certain phrase. If I persist, so does she.
Although I wish she would chat less with her friend Sandro in class and keep her phone in her backpack, I know how much she cares about this class and how highly she thinks of me. She seems like the kind of student who would be excited to keep in touch in the future. Perhaps the next time she finds herself in Berlin she will look me up.


  1. Hey Veda,
    I enjoyed your piece a lot and appreciated the humor of it. My family is German and I grew up hearing it (I was not taught it, I think because my dad wanted to be able to talk to my Oma without my understanding haha) so I know how strange it sounds and I imagine it to be very difficult to speak. We probably all could spend a little less time on our phones in class but nobody’s perfect. I hope you have a great rest of the semester!

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