Lost in Translation

Tonight, It is just after midnight the night before David’s visa appointment.  He is out printing documents he needs for said appointment at a print shop conveniently open until 12 a.m. every day of the week (even Sunday!!).  My visa appointment was last Tuesday morning and we were doing exactly the same thing last Monday night – we left the shop around 11:45 p.m.

This has me thinking about a story one of our new friends here in Berlin told us while we were walking the Berlin wall light exhibition.  She was telling us about how she was in German class, trying to explain to her German teacher the meaning of “procrastination” or “to procrastinate” in reference to an application she had put off doing until last-minute.  Her teacher didn’t entirely understand.  She was like, “You mean, you knew you there was an important thing you had to do by a certain date and you decided to wait until now to get started?  You knew you had something to do and decided not to do it?”

Apparently, the word “procrastination does not translate very well.  Google translate gives me Verzögerung {f}, but I get the sense this word more encompasses a delay – something outside of your control*.  According to Germans, why would one choose to actively avoid doing something important they knew very well they had to do?

I had to cancel a hair cut due to last-minute travel plans and google translate suggested I use the phrase “Last Minute Reisepläne” to explain why I would not be able to make my appointment.  To me, this says the whole idea of doing something last-minute comes from the English-speaking world.

When I was growing up, my mother would call me “Last Minute Louise”, in reference to my tendency to procrastinate school assignments and deadlines in general.  I’ve gotten a lot better, but not enough to have gotten a good nights sleep before my appointment last week.  On his way out this evening, David said, “It’s a good thing we both don’t have a tendency to push things off, isn’t it?”  Kidding, obviously.

Perhaps living in Germany will help us forget the meaning of the word procrastination.  After last week, I know I certainly have a renewed commitment to planning things out in advance.  The stress of last-minute preparation has certainly gotten old.  I have known this for a while (thanks Mom), but last week was certainly a good reminder.

Just some thoughts on my mind while I put off going to bed….

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