Blog

How to Pass German Language Exam C1 in 10 Years (5) – Preparing for the Exam

I passed the ÖSD Deutsch als Fremdsprache Niveau C1 in June this year with a score of 90, which gave me the rating of “Sehr Gut Bestanden”–the highest rating one could get in the exam. This is an excellent result for anybody who wants to learn the language and to settle down in a German speaking country.

This is the 5th and likely the last post of my blog series on German learning. This post is dedicated to the preparation for the C1 exam. You can find the previous posts here:

Although this post is focused on ÖSD C1, I am sure the methods in this post are also useful for other German exams. If you are not familiar with the ÖSD C1 yet, I suggest that you read my previous post on the structure of the exam.

(For those who prefer TL;DR, there will be a set of takeaway messages at the end of each post.)


After finishing all the homework in the C1 book and before registering to the exam, I simulated the Goethe C1 exam at the end of the book. It didn’t strike me as particularly difficult but I think I could at best just pass the exam with a low grade. Then in January this year, before I really started preparing for the ÖSD exam, I did the official mock exam from ÖSD with time controlled. It was a disaster. I didn’t know it could be so difficult. The time was extremely tight for writing. And I was totally lost in the speaking part, which I simulated with my teacher.

Planning and material collection

I discussed with my teacher about how much time I would need for preparation. I could register to the exam at the end of March, which would leave me with 2 months of preparation time, but my teacher advised me to take the exam at the beginning of June. She helped me to clarify one thing: although C1 certificate sounds good, it should not be my primary goal. I don’t need C1 certificate. My goal should be to further improve my language skills rather than to rush to pass an exam that doesn’t serve any practical purpose for me. She suggested the methods, which I summarize in this post. Since the reading and listening parts didn’t bother me much, the focus was on writing and speaking, with strengthening of vocabulary. She also promised that with the intensity of the exam preparation I would further improve my German significantly.

As ÖSD C1 is not Goethe or other popular exams based in Germany, exercise materials are scarce. But my teacher emphasized on repetition and iterative improvement, which means I should try to get the most of every mock exam by repeating the same exercise many times. Judging by my exam result, this approach worked extremely well.

In total I have collected 6 mock exams:

Writing

With every mock exam it went like this. I set aside a Saturday morning to simulate one writing exam, which includes the reading, listening and writing parts. The speaking part was left to the next appoint with the teacher. I chose one of the three topics in writing Aufgabe 2 to complete in the simulation, just like in the real exam. But the other two topics I didn’t choose should not go wasted. In the following two weekends I would practice with the other two. I tried to simulate the real exam conditions as much as possible. I controlled the time for every part. When a writing on Aufgabe 2 was done outside a simulated exam, I limited the time to 60 minutes. I wrote with a pen on paper in all the writing practices because that’s how it is in real exam.

After completing both Aufgabe 1 and Aufgabe 2 I typed the original text in MS Word and sent it to my teacher. She would correct it in the next days and return it to me. The first round was only focused on correcting the grammatical errors and improving the variability of wording and expression. Then I would try to revise the article on Aufgabe 2, with a focus on the contents and connections between paragraphs and sentences. The second version would again be sent to her for correction and improvement. After these two iterations I had an article with decent quality by C1 standard. Then came the most difficult part. My teacher asked me to memorize every article I wrote. So I printed out the twice reviewed article and spent 2-3 hours to memorize it to the extent that I could recite it from beginning to end. Here I post the three editions of the same article I have written so that you can compare the results. The first is the original writing. Second is after the correction by the teacher. Third is after my revision and the second round of correction by the teacher.

I went through the whole process on almost all the topics in the preparation materials I had collected. There were a few topics I found totally lame and couldn’t write anything meaningful about them. But I still did my best for these topics because, well, choice is a luxury in C1 exam. What if I don’t like any of the topics in my exam? In the end, all the exercises were designed to enable me to write two texts on any random subjects in 90 minutes. The structures, phrases, new words, and expressions I had learnt in the exercises became materials that I could actively use without thinking. I could focus on expressing my ideas rather than how to write this and that.

Time distribution is also critical in the exam. The Aufgabe 1 should take ideally less than 20 minutes, which leave 70 minutes for the Aufgabe 2. It would be even better if you can spend 5 minutes on proofreading in the end. In my case I could always find several basic mistakes through proofreading. I tried to keep this time distribution in every simulated exam. After several months of practice, I could write on Aufgabe 1 almost automatically since the key points were already listed.

The third option on Aufgabe 2, to write a commentary on the long article I have read in the reading part, seemed to be the most difficult at the beginning. But after I became more fluent in writing I actually liked this one more than the other two. This was what I chose in my exam. During preparation I had even devised a trick for this option. Since I always had a bit of extra time after finishing the reading part, I would use this time to mark the important information on the article and take notes. Although I must give back all the notes and exam sheet to the examiner after the reading part, I had built a mental model of the article, including what the key points were and how they could be summarized. I could also start to think about the other points I would like to write. When the exam entered the writing part, I scanned the topics very quickly. If I liked the other two seemingly easier options, I would still go for them. But in my exam the topic 3 was obviously more interesting for me. It took me maybe 10 seconds to make the decision and I didn’t read the details of the other two topics at all.

I got 13/15 on Aufgabe 1 and 12/15 on Aufgabe 2, which I think is a reasonable result for the time I had spent on writing. More importantly, the whole process had indeed improved my writing in general. I could write emails and other documents at work noticeably better and faster than half a year ago.

Speaking

For the speaking part I followed the same principle of repetition and iterative improvement. I suppose Aufgabe 1 shouldn’t be difficult to anybody above B2 level. And my job gave me some advantage on the Aufgabe 2 because I need to convince people to get things done. The Aufgabe 3 was the the most difficult and was also where I have put the most efforts.

The preparation went like this. In the first round I simulated with my teacher in class and got feedback immediately. At this round the topic of the Aufgabe was always new to me, like in the real exam. In the first three simulations I couldn’t even speak coherently for 10 minutes. The first challenge was to summarize the contents in a very short time. For that I developed my own format to note the points I would talk about. The task is but more than just summarizing. I would have to express my opinion, explain the situation in my homeland, and then talk about how I deal with it personally.

The second round is not speaking. Instead I would take my time to actually write down a complete article covering all the talking points in the speaking exam. Although this writing was not time trial, I still got to write more, which obviously should count as writing exercises. My teacher would correct the text and I revise it again for another round of correction. Then I would memorize and recite the article I have written. Just like what I did for in the writing exercise. After this round I would go for the same speaking Aufgabe again, time controlled, starting with taking notes. There is no surprise that I could perform much better after actually writing down and memorize what I would like to say. I recorded the speaking, listened to it and would do another round in the following day. With every iteration I improved my performance on the same Aufgabe. It was 3 months into the preparation I finally managed to cover all the talking points on the first trial in one go. Afterwards I skipped the writing round, just repeated the note taking and speaking 3 times on every Aufgabe. Here you can listen to the three recordings of the same presentation.

Round 1:

Round 2:

Round 3:

 

During the preparation I looked for references on the internet but ÖSD didn’t publish a lot. I compared my recording with the 2 official examples (example 1, example 2) from ÖSD. I was confident that I could pass the exam without a problem. Before the exam I registered to a preparation course for the speaking part. It was essentially a simulation with an experienced ÖSD examiner. After the simulation she said that I was really good. Maybe I could improve a bit on some pronunciations but overall I should have no problem passing the exam. The final result just couldn’t be better, 30/30.

The takeaways for C1 exam preparation

  • Aim for general improvement rather than passing the exam. I am aware that very few people go for the C1 exam just because they want to improve their German. If you are reading this article, C1 is probably for you a prerequisite for something, like enrollment to a university or a certain job. The score might make very little difference as long as you pass. But the preparation itself is a very good chance to improve your German in general, and you will likely need the language skill after you pass the exam.
  • Simulate the real exam. You should control the time in simulation like an examiner is sitting in front of you. Write with a pen on paper and use the same type of pen at the exam. It certainly takes longer than writing in MS Word and it is more difficult to correct. But that’s how it is in the real exam. Writing with a pen forces you to think before putting things on the paper. And since you have to write in a very tight time limit, you’d better think fast.
  • Iterate and get feedbacks. If you have read this article, you should have noticed that the feedbacks from my teacher were critical in my preparation. Iteratively improving your skills through feedbacks could help you acquire the necessary building blocks for writing and speaking, e.g., vocabulary, phrases, and connectors. I have seen other exam takers trying to memorize some template sentences in the pause before the writing part started. I don’t think that would yield any good result.

How to Pass German Language Exam C1 in 10 Years (4) – Anatomy of the ÖSD C1 Exam

I passed the ÖSD Deutsch als Fremdsprache Niveau C1 in June this year with a score of 90, which gave me the rating of “Sehr Gut Bestanden”–the highest rating one could get in the exam. This is an excellent result for anybody who wants to learn the language and to settle down in a German speaking country.

This is the 4th post of my blog series on German learning, dedicated to analyzing the ÖSD C1 exam. You can find the previous posts here:

(No takeaway massages in this post. If you are going to take the exam, you have to know all the parts.)


ÖSD is the official language exam in Austria for C1 and C2 levels. For integration in Austria, which requires up to B2 level, you need to take ÖIF now (Please check this article on the language politics in Austria). The abbreviation ÖSD is a wordplay, standing for both “Österreich, Schweiz, Deutschland” and “Österreichisches Sprachdiplom Deutsch”.

There are a number of German exams in the market, Goethe, telc, TestDaF, ÖSD, ÖIF…you name it. Each one has it’s own use cases, like study, integration, or general proficiency. ÖSD exams are focused on using the language in real-world situations. In this regard it is similar to the most popular Goethe exams. However, compared to Goethe C1, the ÖSD counterpart has more tasks, takes more time to finish, and has some significantly more challenging tasks in the writing and speaking parts.

You can find the official material and Modellprüfung on the ÖSD website. In this post, I am going to analyze all the tasks with my personal experience.

Reading

4 tasks, 90 minutes, maximum 20 points, minimum 10 to pass.

  • Aufgabe 1 is a standard reading comprehension: an article about a certain social subject and 5 single-choice questions in the end. The goal is to test your understanding of details. What’s interesting is that one of the options in the writing part is to write a commentary to this article. If you like the subject you can already start to think about how you would write a commentary about it. More on this in the writing part.
  • In Aufgabe 2 there are 5 short texts and 10 titles. The task is to identify the key message of each text in order to assign the right title to it.
  • Things start to get more interesting in Aufgabe 3, in which you “compose” a coherent article with the given materials. You get an article where 5 short paragraphs are missing. You also get 7 candidate paragraphs to fill in the missing positions. It’s a bit like a half finished jigsaw puzzle. Two of the candidates are just there to confuse you. You need to identify the signals in texts so that your chosen candidate connects the paragraphs before and after coherently.
  • Aufgabe 4 is a typical text completion exercise with 15 blanks. It’s always exactly one word missing in each blank. The missing word could be a verb, noun, preposition, pronoun, anything. It’s a test of vocabulary and idioms. If you can’t recall a word or an idiom, or if you don’t know the right preposition after a verb in the context, there is little chance you can guess the right key. The maximum score of this task is 5 but an experienced examiner told me that it’s almost impossible to get all the blanks right.

I scored 19 out of 20 in the reading part. I am pretty sure the 1 point I lost is in the notorious Aufgabe 4.

Listening

2 tasks, ~40 minutes, maximum 20 points, minimum 10 to pass.

  • Aufgabe 1 is a standard listening comprehension with 10 single-choice questions. You hear a radio program twice, in which multiple people talk about their research or opinions. You may encounter various accents, talking speeds, styles, and background noises.
  • In Aufgabe 2 you hear a presentation twice to fill in 10 missing blanks. The grading is not focused on grammar in this task, meaning that some errors on the form of a word, like singular/plural, tense, and word ending, are tolerated. As long as you get the word right you get the point.

I scored 16 out of 20 in the listening comprehension. Although listening is normally my stronghold, I am not surprised that I lost 4 points here. The listening material for Aufgabe 1 in my exam was very difficult, which has got some fellow exam takers complaining afterwards. It has even surprised our examiner, who confirmed after the exam it was new to her and it was a difficult one.

Writing

2 tasks, 90 minutes, maximum 30 points, minimum 7 points on each task and a total of 15 points to pass.

  • Aufgabe 1 is an email complaint. You receive an email about a dispute that is usually a result of your own error, like delay of payments, missing deadlines and so on. Your task is to reply the email to explain the situation, suggest a solution, and eventually minimize the loss. The points to be addressed in the reply are already given in colloquial form as notes to the original email. Formality and tone are important in your reply because the goal is to convince the other party and solve the problem. For this task there is no minimal number of words. 100-150 words are enough. There is also no time limit other than the total 90 minutes for both writing tasks. But per my experience you should spend a maximal of 20 minutes for this task in order to leave more time for the Aufgabe 2.
  • Aufgabe 2 is an essay. You can choose from three topics of different styles for this task and for each one there are specific points to be covered. You should write at least 250 words. However, for a good score you should target 350-400 words, which means about 500 words in total in 90 minutes. 
    • The first topic is a report (Referat) on statistics. You should write about the following points: summary of the statistics, interpretation of the information, situation in homeland, and personal opinion. This variant seems to be the easiest and most straight forward to write about. At least that’s what I thought at the beginning. Just use some template sentences and it’s done. But as my preparation progresses I growingly found writing summary of statistics rather boring. And if the topic is not interesting, it’s still difficult to cover the other three points.
    • The second topic is an opinion piece (Stellungname) on a short text. You have to address 4 points: summary of the text, argument about the pros and cons, personal opinion, and situation in homeland. I have found this one the most annoying since the beginning of preparation. The text is short and the summary has to be shorter. It’s often difficult to distinguish the argument and personal opinion. If I have clarified the pros and cons of a certain policy, my opinion should be clear. I often struggle on point three because I have already expressed my opinion in point 2.
    • The third topic is to write a commentary (Commentar) on the reading comprehension article you’ve read at the beginning of the exam. The logic is that although it’s a long text, you’ve read it already. The points to be covered are summary of the article, personal opinion to the information, the situation in homeland, and what should one do to deal with it. To summarize a long article in such a short time in the exam is very challenging. At the beginning of my preparation I thought I would never choose this one in the actual exam. But after some practices it turned out that the topic is more important than the form of writing-the more interesting the topic, the faster I can write, and fewer mistakes I make. This is the option I eventually chose in my exam.

I got 25 out of 30 points in writing, in which 13 on the email and 12 on the essay. This is an acceptable performance given how much efforts I have put in this part during preparation.

The three parts above-reading, listening, and writing-make up the schriftliche Prüfung, which is done in one session. This means you will have to sit there for almost 4 hours, with some short pauses in between. That in itself is a challenge to stamina and concentration. Do pack some snacks before you go.

Speaking

3 tasks, ~40 minutes including preparation, maximum 30 point, minimum 18 points to pass. Tasks are not graded separately.

The mündliche Prüfung is carried out in a separate individual session, which normally takes place in the week following the schriftliche Prüfung. Different to Goethe C1, you are the only exam taker in the session with two examiners. You get 20 minutes to read the material and prepare your talking points for all 3 tasks. Then you need to talk for about 20 minutes. The 3 tasks are set in different scenarios and require different talking styles.

  • Aufgabe 1 is an apology over telephone. Usually it’s about a missing appointment. After apologizing and clarifying the situation, you should try to convince the other party, played by an examiner, to agree with an alternative solution. The conversation is formal. During the call you and the examiner look in different directions.
  • In Aufgabe 2 you need to work with a colleague to choose one of two given pictures for a newspaper or magazine article. In your preparation time you should have already chosen one of the pictures and the examiner will play your colleague who prefers the other one. Since you are playing colleagues you address each other per du. The conversation goes at a relatively fast pace with arguments back and forth. For this you should not only prepare the arguments for your choice, but also try to think from the perspective of the other party and prepare your counter arguments.
  • The Aufgabe 3 is a presentation. You get three pieces of information on a sheet of paper: a set of statistics, a short text, and a long text. All the information is on the same subject but from different sources with sometimes conflicting messages. You have to cover four points in the presentation: summary of the given information, personal opinion, situation in homeland, and what you would do personally in dealing with the subject. You should talk for about 8 minutes and leave some time for questions and discussion. It’s a formal presentation that starts with greetings and ends with thanks. This task is in my opinion the most difficult of the whole ÖSD C1 exam, although I heard that more people fail the writing Aufgabe 2 than this one. Time is extremely tight and you have only one go. The goal is to cover all points while making as few mistakes as you can and speaking as logically as possible. You may stumble occasionally but you need to reorganize your words quickly. This one really tests your language fluency. Mistakes are tolerated to a certain extent, but you can’t make too many. On the other hand, if you are thinking about grammar and word order all the time you won’t be able to focus on the content of your presentation, which will in turn lead to more stumbles. ÖSD has published two videos examples of the mündliche Prüfung: example 1, example 2

I scored 30 out 30 in the speaking part. Not a single point is lost. I was (ironically) speechless when I saw the score. I have certainly made a few mistakes during the exam, but who doesn’t? It’s German.

Next post: ÖSD C1 preparation

That’s a summary of the ÖSD C1 exam with my personal experience. I am more than happy with the 90 points I got out of this difficult exam, but the result didn’t come automatically from the C1 course. My german teacher has guided me through some very specific trainings to both prepare me for the exam and further improve my language skills. The preparation of ÖSD C1 will be the topic of my next post.

How to Pass German Language Exam C1 in 10 Years (3) — C1

I passed the ÖSD Deutsch als Fremdsprache Niveau C1 in June this year with a score of 90, which gave me the rating of “Sehr Gut Bestanden”–the highest rating one could get in the exam. This is an excellent result for anybody who wants to learn the language and to settle down in a German speaking country.

This weekend I celebrated the 10th anniversary of my arrival in Austria with some Sturm and Spare Ribs.

 

It seems fitting to continue my blog series on learning German on such a special weekend. This is the third post, dedicated to my experience of learning at the C1 level. You can find the previous posts here:

(For those who prefer TL;DR, there will be a set of takeaway messages at the end of each post.)


Goal and pace

Passing B2 was the most significant milestone in my years of language learning. It was enough for me to feel mentally integrated in the country. But it was far from enough in terms of language proficiency. I could at best understand 90% of the details in meetings, and with some efforts, make people understand what I wanted to express. From my employer’s perspective I was qualified, which means they wouldn’t pay for my German course anymore. So I asked my German teacher if I could continue the private course with her on C1 level if I paid by myself. At that time I had already developed a good working relationship with her. We agreed on the terms quickly and started in May 2016.

My goal this time was first of all to further improve my language skills. C1 certificate was not a legal or professional prerequisite for anything I would like to achieve. The course was therefore completely voluntary. We didn’t even set a finish time. The general agreement was 1 session per week and 2 units every session. In reality with all the vacations, business trips and other interruptions we actually only had 37 sessions in 1.5 years, or 74 units until we finished the C1 book. Besides, I have to admit that I was under less pressure to learn German now. The intensity was much lower than the B2 level and this actually made the learning more enjoyable.

Learning for C1

In my experience there wasn’t much of a learning method to speak of at C1. It’s just a matter of more practice, more topics, and broader vocabulary. From my German teacher there was one suggestion that worked very well during my C1 course: the whole learning process should be guided by me rather than by the teacher. At B2 level I knew what I had to improve and what I wanted to learn. Now I could also control my pace. I focused on the vocabulary and writing because I had enough listening comprehension and speaking at work. During the week, when I was in the mood, I would work on vocabulary in the morning and other homework in the evening. Weekends were reserved for writing. Every time we met she asked me to first tell an interesting story that happened since our last session. She would also tell me some interesting events from her side. This would usually lead to random chat. Sometimes when I was too tired or the topics were interesting we could even talk for more than an hour without opening the book. I have always valued this kind of chat with the teacher because it required a significantly broader vocabulary than what I usually use at work. Since I could finish most of the homework by myself, the actual course part was a chance to get feedbacks and understand the difficult grammatical phenomena and nuances in expressions. We would discuss the questions I collected from the homework and read selected texts laud. If I wrote something I would also read it so that she could spot the errors and suggest possible improvements. She would bring extra materials from time to time. Sometimes just fun articles, sometimes upon my request targeted exercises like Konjunktiv I.

Although I was not in a hurry this time, I could still get frustrated because it seemed impossible to get everything right. Once I asked the teacher when and how I could master the verb + prep. combinations. She said, 30 years. It was obviously not very encouraging. Then she said it’s normal. And I have been learning with her for more than a year, I will need only 29 years from now. I take this as the second most important piece of advice on my journey with the language. It’s a life long quest I have willingly accepted.

As the course progressed slowly but steadily, there were noticeable signs of improvement at work. Half a year into the course I have started to work with some colleagues in Germany, who had no idea of my history with the German language. We have communicated in German since the beginning. Once I was having a conversation with a German colleague and an English-speaking colleague. When the English-speaking colleague left the conversation briefly, the German guy almost immediately switched to German because only two of us were in the conversation. I regard this as a sure-fire sign of accepting me as a German speaker.

The takeaways for C1 level

  • Language learning is a lifelong mission. At any stage there is always a chance to improve. With things like preposition, word genders, and Konjunktiv I, the only way to really master them is years of observation and reflection.
  • Do your homework. There is always more. I usually finish 10-15 pages of homework between two sessions. I used Erkundungen Deutsch als Fremdsprache C1: Integriertes Kurs- und Arbeitsbuch.
  • Get a good teacher and build a good relationship. Private teacher is probably the best choice for C1. I say probably as I don’t have experience with group courses at C1 level. But it’s hard to imagine getting enough individual feedbacks from group courses.

The course was finished in November 2017 and I was very inclined to do the C1 exam. In the next post I will present a thorough analysis of the ÖSD C1 exam.

Update 1: For discussion you can also check the Reddit discussion thread.

How to Pass German Language Exam C1 in 10 Years (2) — B2

I passed the ÖSD Deutsch als Fremdsprache Niveau C1 in June this year with a score of 90, which gave me the rating of “Sehr Gut Bestanden”–the highest rating one could get in the exam. This is an excellent result for anybody who wants to learn the language and to settle down in a German speaking country.

This is the second post of my blog series on learning German, dedicated to my experience of learning at the B2 level. You can find the previous post on zero to B1 here: How to Pass German Language Exam C1 in 10 Years (1) — From Zero to B1.

(For those who prefer TL;DR, there will be a set of takeaway messages at the end of each post.)


Things really began to gather pace when I started with my current job in August 2014. I passed the job interviews in English, but the offer came with strings attached. Although it’s an international company, the department mainly deals with Austrian customers. A high-level manager demanded me to speak German at work in 1 year. Therefore I only got a 1-year limited contract. The term would be extended to unlimited only when I was able to speak German at the end of the first year. I immediately realized that if I were ever going to speak German properly and stay in Austria in the long run, this was my only chance to make it happen.

Language environment

Before the job started, I had mentally evaluated my then German skills. I could understand the general ideas of most conversations and writings if I knew the context. I could also ask questions and repeat the answers to some extent in order to clarify things. In other words, I was a proper B1 level German speaker. In addition, in technical discussions in my field I could understand even more, say 80%-90%. But I couldn’t actively join these discussions in German. It was obvious that only doing a B2 course was not enough to enable me speaking German daily at work in one year. I had to change the language environment, which means I must work in German from the beginning, although I couldn’t yet.

I announced to my colleagues on day one about the conditions in my contract and set the rules straight. I might need to speak English to them but they should always talk to me and answer my questions in German. Even in meetings with external partners I tried my best to hold on to this rule. I just told them don’t be surprised that I speak English, please just carry on in German and also talk to me exclusively in German, unless I ask them to explain in English explicitly.

This was not easy for anybody around me. Everybody CAN speak English here, obviously. It’s only natural to answer in English if I ask a question in English. From time to time I had to ask conversation partners to switch to German when they started to talk in English. There were countless awkward moments and misunderstandings, but I stood by my rules. And my colleagues have shown great appreciation of my efforts. For this I am always grateful to all these colleagues. Seriously, it’s a company. Getting things done is more important than helping a colleague to improve language skills.

B2 course

A couple of months into the new job my manager agreed to pay for a B2 German course for me, which was another boost for my German learning. To my surprise the department in charge of training gave us an offer of private course. It was a one-on-one course during which I could make appointment with the teacher on when and where we would meet each time.

Most of the times I asked the teacher to come to my company in the after hours to minimize my overhead. Interruptions from business trips or workload could still occur but I wouldn’t miss a lecture anymore because I could cancel an appointment in advance. In general I tried to keep the pace of two lectures per week and 2 units per lecture, which is more or less the maximum for anybody working full time. The homework was very demanding at B2 level. There was a lot more than repetition of grammar or sentence building. I needed to set dedicated time blocks for writing and vocabulary. Don’t forget that I also had to handle my actual work while processing information in German.

After half a year or so I finally started to speak German in internal meetings. I remember the switch was almost natural, or at least my colleagues pretended to not notice. One day I prepared for what I would say in a meeting and started in German, and the meeting continued in German. Nobody was surprised. No comments on my language switch. At a final demo meeting at the end of my first year, I presented my solution in German to partners. It was understandable judging by their response. I also spoke German exclusively at a meeting with the high level manager who asked me to speak German in 1 year. My contract term was extended to unlimited. My B2 course was also finished at around the same time.

ÖSD B2

At that time I was already thinking about getting the Austrian citizenship. B2 is a prerequisite for citizenship application after staying in Austria for 6 years. So I registered to the ÖSD B2 exam, which was at that time the official exam accepted by immigration (See note on this at the end)*. I took one model exam to get a sense of difficulty and to familiarize myself with the structure. It didn’t seem to be difficult at all. Then I went to the exam without any further preparation. I don’t remember much about the ÖSD B2, except that the actual exam was much harder than I had expected. You can see that my grades were average. Anyway, I passed B2 after living in Austria for 7 years.

The B2 phase was without doubt the most important time in my 10 years of German learning and one of the best years of my life. I had the best conditions for language learning: language environment, private course, and a strong will. I could almost feel my progress every day. Reaching B2 has also completely changed my prospect of staying in Austria: a stable and promising job that offers a career path, speaking the language of the country, qualification to apply for citizenship. On top of that I met one of the most important teachers in my life, who has being guiding me on German learning till today.

BTW, I also managed to finish my second marathon with a personal best (Chicago Marathon, 3:57:38) several weeks before the B2 exam.

The takeaways for B2 level

  • The language environment is not given even if you live in a German speaking country. You have to build it by yourself. Don’t assume your friendly chat with the supermarket assistant or the old lady in your building could bring you language competence. You need real topics and real challenges. The earlier levels have already taught you most of the grammar. At B2 level you should start to use the language in most of the scenarios in life.
  • You need to identify your weaknesses in the language and you need to find your own way to strengthen them. This requires systematic efforts with a certain level of intensity. I have already mentioned how I improved my spoken German. Writing was also a big challenge to me. So I wrote most my emails in German at work and also wrote for B2 homework on weekends.
  • There is a huge amount of homework at B2 level. For those who can relate to my experience, learning German while juggling job, family, and other duties is a test of your will. Be sure you are mentally and physically fit for this.

The next post will be about my experience of learning at C1 level. It’s again going to be a very different story.

* A note on language certificate for immigration in Austria. The language politics changed overtime. Only ÖIF (Österreichische Integrationsfonds) certificates are accepted by MA35 now. There is an interesting article on this: Kampf der Deutschdiplome.

Update 1: For discussion you can also check the Reddit discussion thread.

How to Pass German Language Exam C1 in 10 Years (1) — From Zero to B1

I passed the ÖSD Deutsch als Fremdsprache Niveau C1 in June this year with a score of 90, which gave me the rating of “Sehr Gut Bestanden”–the highest rating one could get in the exam. This is an excellent result for anybody who wants to learn the language and to settle down in a German speaking country.

This post is the beginning of a series on my journey with the German language. I call it a journey because language learning has been part of my life in Austria as an immigrant for 10 years. My learning experience is not as straightforward as which of the students who get a block of time in life, maybe a year or even two, to acquire the language. But I suppose no matter why you choose to learn the language or how fast your progress is, most of the German learners have gone through some mental struggles and technical difficulties in the process. Therefore what I hope to achieve with this blog series is that my experience from zero to C1 could encourage you, aspired or frustrated German learners, to find your own path with the language.

So, sit tight. It took me 10 years to come this far. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody if it takes me several weeks or months to finish writing this series.

(For those who prefer TL;DR, there will be a set of takeaway messages at the end of each post.)


I arrived in Austria on 28.09.2008 to take an academic job. I didn’t know where that job would lead me. Nor did I know how much it would change my life in the future. And I certainly didn’t know I would one day acquire a second foreign language. In fact, I hadn’t put much thought on these things. I was merely trying to adapt to the new environment and deliver on my new job. Once I felt a bit settled down, the necessity of at least knowing some of the local language had become clear.

A1/A2

I started with a free course on Deutsche Welle, the Warum nicht? series. The units are small and time spent on each unit is controllable. If I had enough energy left after a day of work, I could finish one unit in the evening. It was both exciting and confusing. Exciting because I was learning something new. Confusing because, well, it’s German. There were so many unanswered questions. Why are there three definite articles? Why do they have so many forms? Why is the feminine definite article the same as the plural article while the feminine definite article in dative is the same as the masculine one? The whole idea that every word could be declined in a simple article-adjective-noun combination like “the big apple” was just alien. This might not be the case for many European learners. But my mother tongue is not even in the Indo-European language family. The first obstacle for me to learn these languages is to accept that these concepts exist. That reminded me of the time when I started learning English in China at the age of 12. It was also very difficult to mentally accept the fact that there is something called tense.

After finishing Series 1 of the “Warum nicht?”, I knew I couldn’t continue with it. I registered to an A1 course. My job as a young foreign academic was demanding and I had to travel frequently. I could only take the evening course, twice a week, 2 course units every time. The teacher was very good and helpful. Classmates were nice and we had lots of fun. It was far more motivating than learning from a book alone. I tried my best to give some time to German in the evenings and on weekends if I was not working overtime. Sometimes I had to bring German homework with me on business trips. It must be strange for other fellow European passengers to see an Asian guy dressed in casual business style doing pupil’s homework in flight.

During the course, other than accumulating the knowledge about the language itself, I have also got the most important piece of advice on learning German. I was known for asking questions and making quick remarks in class since I was a kid. In the course I wanted to get answers to all the questions I had when I was studying by myself. This were finally put to a stop as the teacher told me in class: “Frag nicht warum! Es ist Deutsch!”. She was totally right. It was not useful to ask why when learning German, at least not at that early stage. I think some linguistic knowledge on how languages evolved could certainly help but that was not for the A1/A2 level. Once I accepted that rules are random and exceptions are norm in German, it became much easier for me to learn the peculiarities of the language.

Eventually I finished the A2 course and took the free exam at the institute. The grades were excellent. And if I recall correctly the exam report issued by the institute at the time was accepted by the immigration to change my visa type from work permit to residence permit. But in terms of language competence, other than knowing some basic concepts and words, I didn’t feel like I could use the language anyhow. In real conversations with Austrians the Austrian accent was a huge obstacle, because in the language course only Hochdeutsch was taught. And BTW my working environment was international. Everybody could speak English in office.

As I was checking my past grades to write this post, I was surprised that I took the A2 exam more than 3 years after I had started in Austria. I don’t remember how many pauses I have taken between A1.1 and A2.2. Maybe there was also an A2 Plus course. What I do remember is that it was a very difficult time career-wise. My adaption to the European academic environment was not successful. I couldn’t see a future in Europe. But a more promising project was coming, and my wife had moved to Vienna. So we decided to hold on and give Austria another try.

B1

Since A2 was obviously not enough for anything practical and it looked like I would stay in Vienna for another couple of years, I continued to the B1 course. It took me another year to finish B1. Again the exam was not official but it was enough to extend my visa. Afterwards I could manage to speak German to the immigration officers and handle most of the basic conversations on phone with utilities and insurances. I could also partially understand the letters from various ministries and businesses.

There were not many memorable moments during the B1 course. The learning experience was very similar to A1/A2. But I still remember the last lecture of the B1 course was called “Erdäpfel bleibt Erdäpfel”. It was a lecture about the differences between Austrian German and standard German. There was a list of Austrian words that are not often used in most parts of Germany, like Erdäpfel,  Käsekrainer and Paradiser. In official EU documents the Austrian translation is differentiated from the German translation by these words. It was a greatly useful lecture to get into Austrian German. But in the actual spoken language, the difference is much more significant than this list of words.

After B1 there was another long hiatus, again influenced by my professional life. It’s difficult to put up the effort to learn the language of a country when I didn’t know if I was going to stay in the country.

The takeaways for zero to B1 level

  • If your mother tongue has plural, tense, case, and gendered articles, your start line is already far ahead of mine.
  • Don’t ask why. It’s German. Accept what you learn. I know this is strange advice to be given by a career researcher and engineer, who is supposed to ask questions. But really, this has also been the most effective piece of advice I have received on German learning.
  • Pace is a personal thing. For most people acquiring a language itself is not the end but the means. Other than a few exceptional cases everybody wants to achieve something with the extra language skill, being it to study abroad, better career chances, or immigration. If your pace is fast enough for your own purpose, it is not slow. 4 years were objectively a long time to reach B1. But I didn’t feel it was slow, because it was not required by my job and my pace was fast enough to extend my visa.

In the next post I will write about my experience with learning German at the B2 level, which will be a very different story to this one.

Update 1: For discussion you can also check the Reddit discussion thread.

巴黎驾驶经验

早就听说巴黎开车恐怖,以前来巴黎因为还没有考驾照所以也没太留意。上周一亲自体验了一把,对于我这种在非常守规矩的奥地利拿照的新司机来说,真是有在重庆开车的感觉。

这次租到的是一辆已经超过2万公里的雪铁龙C8手动柴油版。不得不说比去湖区那辆全新的福特Galaxy自动挡开着舒服很多。可能一是那辆新车没有磨合,二是从未开过自动的我对于速度控制始终感觉不如手动。带父母法国游的自驾部分行程原本是按照尽量避免在巴黎开车而设计的。周六早上机场取车直奔离巴黎200多公里的卢瓦河谷中心地带看城堡,周日继续在卢瓦河一带看城堡,晚上回到离巴黎较近的凡尔赛,周一参观凡尔赛宫,开到巴黎住处,加油还车。结果出现两个本来可以考虑到但是疏忽了的情况。一是周日晚上才发现凡尔赛周一不开门,只有把周一的行程改成在巴黎市内的卢浮宫,周三再坐火车到凡尔赛。二是他们从巴黎就直接回国了,7座车装不了6个人加他们所有的行李,只有把大件行李存在机场,周一把人送到巴黎公寓以后再去机场取回来。于是周一就在巴黎市内和周边开了这么几条路线:上午凡尔赛进城到卢浮宫,晚高峰从卢浮宫到十四区的公寓,晚高峰从公寓出城到机场,机场回公寓,找加油,还车。这一天总开车时间大约4小时,里程不过100公里出头,已经觉得水平又长进了不少。

第一天从戴高乐经巴黎外环出城就对这里开车的习惯尤其是和奥地利的区别有了个大概的认识。大部分的车高速变道是不利索的。奥地利是先观察前后安全距离有了再打转弯灯,打灯的同时再看一眼后视镜和侧后死角,然后马上就要做变道动作,整个变道过程基本上在转弯灯闪完3下就完成了。如果你比较犹豫,或者后车距离有些不够,后面的车一般会让出位置甚至闪远光灯告诉你可以并进来。法国的高速这样就不行了,闪灯的不一定要并,不闪的不一定不并。转弯灯只是表示我想并了,不是表示我马上要做。第一天发生几次开到大车边上大车突然开始打灯。也有右道的车在我前方闪一会灯我让了位置跑半分钟人家又不闪灯了,等我超了过去突然钻到我背后。巴黎周边的高速车很多,并道要想找到书本上一样安全的机会基本没可能,而且就算打灯也没人理你,必须变道的时候,只有学本地人一样,先到线上骑着开一点,后车退了就挤进去,这个信号比转弯灯有效。还有一点不舒服的是高速路上很少有人走右道,大部分人就在中道开,中道和右道速度差别很小,有时甚至右道快,导致很难超大车,所以后来车多的时候我也就在中道开了。

高速还好一点,基本人家是什么意思很快弄懂也就照着开了,到了市内那才是一片混乱。摩托车经常在左边突然出现,自行车经常在右边乱晃,行人不一定认红绿灯,车也不守规矩。右道左转左道右转很常见,不知道怎么转在两个道中间晃的也有,整个大环境和重庆差不多。另外一点是红绿灯数量惊人,有些路段大概每两三辆车的长度就是一个红绿灯。很多路口进路口一个红绿灯,出路口还有一个红绿灯,有几次进主路的时候遇到还真的差点没反应过来。维也纳转弯出路口就只需要让通过绿灯的行人。

卢浮宫出来到我们住的公寓坐地铁大概20分钟,结果晚高峰6点多开过去开了50分钟,其中包括在堵车的状态下和多车道的车转入单车道小路,然后又一步一步挤入主路等等只在重庆见过的动作。要是离前车有超过一米的距离或者侧面有一点空间,多半就会有行人,自行车或者摩托车钻进来。要是有两米就不知道哪里会来一辆车往里挤了。还有右道如果是公交车道也很麻烦。维也纳一般会有灯控制让公交车先走,巴黎就没有这种设计,有次右转进单车道小路,前有过马路的行人自己走自己的路,右边有公交车朝我冲过来,我只有瞄着行人刚刚走过的那个空间慢慢挤进去,右边来的公交车也就稍微往左打了一下从我后面绕过去,没有被按喇叭,似乎这是很正常的现象。

巴黎的转盘更是神奇,转盘是多车道的,却没有车道线,进了转盘以后大家一阵乱冲出去。过了无数次都非常不知所措,只能尽量靠右走。还车以后第二天走到香榭丽舍大街和凯旋门,才知道凯旋门是世界上最大的交通转盘,数了一下有12个出口,顿时又后悔没有在有车的时候从香街开上去到凯旋门转一圈,那感觉应该是很牛x的。

关于停车,巴黎这种寸土寸金的地方,停车费用很多时候给我感觉是惩罚性的。去以前没有做太多功课因为没有准备在巴黎停车,结果由于前面提到的两处计划更改,周一在两个地方付出了高昂的停车费。第一是卢浮宫地下停车场,停车费用5欧一小时,逛了一天,掏了40欧的停车费。咨询了一些导游朋友,这个是那附近唯一靠谱的选择。第二是戴高乐机场,把人都送到以后晚上8点从14区开往机场取行李。由于路上堵车,对机场不熟悉,加上要在存包处9点半关门以前取行李,直接把车停在了二号候机楼门口的收费上下人停车区。戴高乐二号楼其实非常庞大,从2A到2F等于是分别的航站楼。我们取行李来回在航站楼里面走路走了大约50分钟。到离开缴费的时候才发现,10分钟免费,之后0.5欧一分钟,停车费花了21.5欧。如果计划好一些,停在存行李位置附近的长时停车区,半小时5欧,1小时9欧。

还车前的最后一项任务是加油。这事在维也纳我从没有想太多,因为还车的地方附近一般都有24小时无人加油站。机场回来已经11点多,还车的地方离住处开车几分钟,已经没有需要赶时间的大事,路上车也少了,轻轻松松开出去,开始看着gps找加油,结果过了好几个gps上的加油站什么都没看到,没有门,没有油价表。开始着急。终于在一条车不多的路边找到一个gps上的加油站,原来只是路边一台加油机。没有灯,机器没有工作,油枪有锁。而且这辆车的油箱还在左边。跟着gps又转了一阵,就没找到一个可以加油的地方。后来老婆下车问了附近一家餐馆的人,运气不错居然碰到会说英语的,告诉我们沿着某条路开5分钟就有了。我们照着那人说的还真找到了一个在工作的加油站。有人值守,先问我加多少,我说不知道加满要多少,于是要押银行卡才给开机器加油,各种不舒服。开到24小时还车的地方也是有人值守的。值班的人不会说英语,先是想让我们把gps留在车里。尼玛那是我们自己的gps为毛要留给你啊,比划了好久才明白。然后也不多说话让我们拿着钥匙在停车场跟着走,穿过一道偏僻的小门,出停车场,走下一小段楼梯,各种胆战心惊,要是这会他的同伙来把我们抢了估计是没啥办法的。结果扔钥匙的抽屉就在楼梯右边,要是没人值守根本不可能找到。出来半夜1点多,步行回住处,还好是比较安全的区域。巴黎奖励了我们一个铁塔夜景。

总结一下新手第一次在巴黎开车,虽有以上说的种种体验,还是安全的带着父母老婆去了想去的地方,办了该办的事。二线城市来的人,到了一线城市各种吃惊也是正常的。老婆全程紧张的在副驾座位上帮我看路,都忘了拍一张车内看出去的街景。最后想起来学车时教练说的真理:
只要你保证安全,就能享受到驾驶的乐趣。

四年前,决赛后的那篇博客

这两天事情太多,没有写什么。德国队输球之后,也没有多少写的兴趣。今天赛前临时决定把每场10欧陶冶情操的原则坚持到底。事实证明原则是很重要的。5欧西班牙2:0胜,娱乐性质,纯粹是为了避免1:0和0:0的低赔率。另5欧西班牙补时胜,赔率11,是我赢的第二注,也在最后时刻让我翻了本。总结赌球成果,初始充值50欧,现在账户余额85欧。利润率70%,完成了保本争赢的既定目标。在赚小钱的同时,还陶冶了情操,提高了素质。

先把无关世界局势的个人赌球经验总结一下。1,Again,原则很重要。德国一场买了平时的两倍,20欧,不符合原则,输了。其中10欧是赔率5以下的,不符合原则。5欧klose最佳射手,也是赔率5以下,不符合原则(3,4名决赛他都没上场)。2,不受自己的好恶影响很重要。我不讨厌西班牙,但是德国和西班牙的比赛让我买西班牙胜实在违心得很,以后这种情况可以选择不买。打阿根廷那场我确实是有信心的,这种情况可以照买。3,不受前面输赢的影响。本来就是个娱乐仓,玩的时候还想着账户余额,有失身份。今天买之前已经在亏损状态,但是出手就赢了。

说点正经的。西班牙夺冠是实至名归的结果。上一篇写德国和西班牙那场,写着写着我也觉得西班牙的赢面大。最后说到冠军的心,其实自己都有些动摇。近两年西班牙展现出来的场上控制力,技术先进性,球队整体感,球星作用,还有最重要的强大的心理素质,都让这个冠军很有说服力。西班牙赢球1:0多,但是他们的1:0是很有观赏性的,和意大利有本质区别。以流畅的中场传接球控制为代表的巴萨打法被西班牙国家队很好的采用,当然这和大量召入巴萨球员不无关系。今天赛前看克鲁伊夫的评论:”Spain,
a replica of Barca, is the best publicity for
football.”,点出了西班牙和巴萨对于世界足球的影响。西班牙代表了当今足坛最先进的打法和最高的技战术水平。西班牙夺冠,沉重的打击了从国米夺得欧冠到本届世界杯初期阶段重现苗头的密集防守的趋势。在永无休止的form与function的争论中,今天西班牙给出了这个时代的完美答案。

关于决赛,这场球本身的质量完全超出了我的预期。双方创造出来的机会之多,不亚于一场高水平的联赛。荷兰发挥非常出色,以破坏性的方式控制住了中场,打乱了西班牙惯有的节奏,让小白和xavi都难以流畅出球。在肮脏的防守上,荷兰表现得一如既往的突出。这一点必须要表扬一下今天的裁判,他对于本场比赛的控制极其优秀。除了de jong飞揣alonso那球轻判,基本没有明显误判。黄牌数多,但是这符合场上形势。大多数的牌都给得恰到好处,阻止了更严重犯规的发生,又保持了两支球队的完整性和比赛的连续性,没有让06年荷兰对葡萄牙的经典在世界杯决赛重演。最后小白的进球两次向他传球都不在越位位置,无可争议。Robben浪费两次单刀,不能怪别人。别的前锋本来就是来打酱油的,不能指望。我实在不能认同施耐德踢球的方式,世界杯决赛阶段的进球含金量也偏低。他如果成为先生,只能是唯成绩论的结果。从球员的整体年龄和年轻球员的能力来看,可以预见这是荷兰足球短期内难以企及的一个高点。下次再进世界杯决赛,不知会是多少届以后了。西班牙今天表现并不好,尤其是中后卫,从开场就有明显失误。罗本两次单刀,都是中后卫的问题。圣卡西确实是大赛型,这场决赛首功应该是他。西班牙的中场就怕凶猛逼抢的打法,今天再次验证。在荷兰队终于显出疲态的时候,加上Bosque的换人,中场终于开始正常运转。navas换下难以和其他球员形成默契的Pedro,在右边给荷兰队造成了很大的压力。小法送出了可能是他这辈子最关键的一次助攻。他的上场是战术调整,加强进攻,刚开始捎显得独,但最终效果明显。另外,他换下的Alonso全场在攻守两方面全面的表现也无可挑剔。最后饱受争议的Torres在左路的尝试最终造成了小白的进球。在荷兰传统的边路强项上,今天西班牙全面压制了荷兰,反倒是中路落了下风。在被人围追堵截了将近120分钟之后,小白终于抓住了荷兰防线的一点破绽,展现出了他先生级球员的风采。跑位停球射门,精准算计,从容完成。

无论阴谋论如何盛行,这场比赛符合FIFA的精神,也符合大多数球迷的心愿。

关于德国,且看4年之后。德国确实是支年轻得恐怖的球队。输给西班牙,经验,体能,战术等方面的原因都有,但是我觉得心气很重要。如我写过的,冠军必须有一颗冠军的心,德国的小将们还没有为世界杯冠军准备好。在连续两场大胜后,除了小猪,别的中场球员兴奋度都不够。加上技术的劣势,对手防守的强大,那只所向披靡的青年军被打得找不到北。这场比赛对他们没有坏处,最终的结果也符合实力。时候没到就是时候没到,经验不够就是经验不够。包括Lw也是,他应该这两年都在琢磨如何击败西班牙,但是最后还是功亏一篑。有人批评那场球德国保守,其实不保守并不见得就能赢。4年之后,现在的德国队要退役的重要球员只有Klose,和已不再重要的Ballack。24岁的守门员,24岁的中后卫,26岁的队长,25岁的核心,以及一批天赋超越前辈的20岁出头的新星,Müller,Kroos,Khedira…他们得到季军之后笑了,他们应该高兴。他们在一起奋斗,站到了绝大多数同龄球员难以想像的高峰,他们还会在一起成长,一起享受更高的荣誉。这样一代球员的出现本来就是值得庆祝的事情。4年之后的德国队,依然年轻,但是会有成熟的战术,充足的经验,优秀的技术,强壮的身体帮助他们在巴西击败巴西。

现在马上早上4点,今天晚上还要飞柏林。睡了,34岁的时候我会回来看这篇的。

宜家Kallax改造房间分割式电视柜

世界杯明天开幕,加(tao)班(ban)一天完成电视柜项目。

因为新房结构的关系,需要弄一个房间分割式的电视柜。真正开始找了以后,才发现根本没有满足需求的成品。首先是大小要合适,太宽太高显得房间拥挤。市场上的成品大多非常庞大,甚至需要在房顶固定,可能是因为这种电视柜面向的客户都有超大的客厅。我们客厅不大,但是我们就是需要!大约1.5米宽的就很合适,就是没有。第二,电视柜背面要可看,大多数立式的电视柜都是按照背对墙来设计的,如果摆在房间中间,背面都不能看。矮电视柜倒是很多两面可看的,但是电视机的背面没有遮挡。第三是要稳定,如果是立式电视柜,要求从侧面固定就能稳定,如果是矮电视柜,电视机也不能就这样摆在房间中间,谁都可以从后面推倒。这是有娃的朋友提供的建议,不然人家就不能带娃来玩了。但是对于我们日常使用来说,也需要有一种稳定的感觉,也就是电视机后面要有个稳定的背景。最后,价格要可以承受,市面上的成品,除了大小不合适以外,一般800欧往上,我家单件家具都没有超过500欧的……

这个电视柜的方案我们考虑了大概半年,各种稀奇古怪的想法都有过,最后还是看到宜家的新Kallax系列
(Expedit的后继版本)才突然来了灵感。基本的想法是用4×4和1×4两个搁架组合,4×4在后分割房间,遮挡电视机背面,
为电视机提供背景,同时又保证视线通透。1×4在前作为电视柜,放电视和所有设备。两件是同一系列,风格一致,宽度都是1.47米,放在一起非常和谐。只需要想像一下就知道这是完全符合我们需求的方案。

Kallax 4×4

Kallax 1×4,可以横过来摆在地上

基本的想法有了之后还需要处理一下细节。最大的问题是Kallax本身不是电视柜,没有背后走线的空间。自然的解决方案就是把中间的隔板后部和上层面板中间都挖出线槽。

需要改造的部件,标记了挖孔的方位

方形的孔可以用现成的手锯挖,但是这样操作对手上技术要求比较高,否则挖出来的槽可能大小不一或者边缘不整齐。我选择了直接上圆锯。

只需要描好点,注意挖孔的地方不要破坏本来家具设计好的连接结构,打个圆心的小孔,就可以用圆锯一下切出需要的线槽。

手钻打出圆心

工作台是运货的架子,正好把板子放在上面脚踩住

中间隔板和侧面我都切的大半个圆,这样线比较好从后面摆上去,上层切的整圆,美观一些。

刚切好的样子,圆锯切起来好爽!!

这里比较失误的一点是,圆锯直径我选择了墙面插座和开关标准的68mm,
挖完了才发现,标准的桌面线孔只有60和80mm的……我挖的68mm孔没法直接用写字台上常见的那种盖子。还好68mm的孔可以用墙面上常见的线盒盖遮挡,剪掉一边将就用,反正也没人没事去看电视后面。

孔切好以后,用砂纸打磨,然后用电工白胶带包上,改造部分就算完成了。

最后把各块板子装回原位完工。

本来我还计划两件连接加固。在4×4在侧面墙上固定以后,觉得足够稳定,
1×4摆在前面就好了。4×4侧面固定作为房间分割也是宜家说明书里面推荐的一种用法,于是省掉连接的步骤。

正面。请自动忽略杂乱的电线,那会留到另一个项目去解决。

完工后的侧面

最终花费,两件Kallax,4×4的100欧,1×4的40欧,圆锯9欧,钻头固定件14欧(可用于各种尺寸的圆锯)。实际工作时间大约3-4小时,改造了1×4
Kallax这件40欧的家具达到我们最初的目标。

Vienna City Marathon 2013,第一次半马记录

训练12周以后迎来维也纳城市马拉松。这个周末维也纳天气突然大好,上周还是风雪交加。今天最高17度,晴天,微风。

因为3周前一次18k稍微激进了点,左脚踝一直有点痛,特别是每次跑完以后第二天。各种训练信息上反复强调的初级跑者一定要耐心,不要随便加强训练计划,确实如此。这次比较运气,左脚踝伤不严重,最后三周把短程慢速的恢复跑都停了,只跑长距,排酸和间歇。自己的云南白药用完了,还把朋友家的药都用光了。每次跑了以后贴膏药休息2天,然后又可以跑,跑了又不舒服,继续贴膏药。以后记住有小伤就马上停,好了以后还能继续练,拖着可能会有大麻烦。

起床。6点半起床,排空,炒饭。蛋炒饭加咖啡是冬季练习赛发现的无敌组合。起跑前1个半小时吃完,跑起来没有不适,跑完半马都不会饿。感觉了一下脚踝,稍微有点痛,但是应该不影响。检查装备,8点出门。15km水站就在家门口,志愿者已经开始准备了。一路上都是去参赛的人,上班都没这么挤过!

到达。到了联合国前面的出发点,好多人都在热身。和传说中的一样,每个角落都有人撒尿……厕所永远都不会够的。这个步骤我就省了,反正那时候撒尿都是心理因素。

起跑。自觉的去了1:45-2:00的出发区,虽然没有人挤人,也没什么空间跑。9点起跑,各种音乐和口号响了好久人群才开始动。后来看官方结果,走加小跑7分钟才到起跑点。起跑点以后大家才开始有点跑的感觉。这是第一次正式半马,目标2小时,也就是大约5:40/k。为了留点余地,消除gps误差的影响,前16k配速定在5:37/k。第一公里跑了5:50。之后的速度就比较正常了。三公里以后看了一眼心跳,靠,180啊,这个是98%最大心跳了。我平时在这个速度上就是正常的半马目标心跳92%左右。不知道是因为主要的训练都在很冷的时候,还是就是简单的紧张。反正呼吸和感觉都没问题,就这样吧。太阳还是很讨厌的,从我1月底开始训练到上周末,我都不记得有一次长距见到太阳的,只记得雨雪和冻住的水壶。

5k。人没觉得少,一直都在选择下面几十米跟谁超谁,什么时候超,怎么超,超了又跟谁,当然也不停的有人超过去。大部分时候前方有两三米的空间就算舒服了。这个状态基本上持续到结束。这是训练的时候不会有的!冬季练习赛的时候人也少多了。5km左右的时候发现人群开始乱动,横向移动的人突然增多,才意识到到了第一个水站。过水站的阵势确实开了眼界,不管在哪,速度都要减慢,地面全是水和踩碎的杯子,噼里啪啦响了大概1分钟才过。后面的水站供水在一边还好点,前面几个两边供水的水站都是这么混乱。除了保持在路中间,也没什么办法,这地方没几条宽的路。冬季跑的经验和老板的建议起了大作用,不要去水站,每个水站能浪费半分钟,自己带水。关键还是要避免去人群乱挤。

5k以后一路正常,保持速度。虽然维也纳马拉松号称经过几大景点,基本上那些景点跑起来没法看的,不撞到人就不错了。跑的中间还是有点风景,大概跑过了三个啦啦队,三个乐队,超了一个穿大号啤酒瓶的。那个泡沫啤酒瓶有大概2米高,从我看到到超过大概跑了2km,还跑得真不慢哦,不知道是跑什么距离的。不过老婆在起点看到了穿mankini跑的……不知道这个是啥的自己搜。

前面10k虽然脚一直有点痛,但是也没有什么影响。感觉一切正常,10k开始有意识的提速了一点点直到16k。提速以后脚踝的痛感就消失了。后来看记录前16k平均速度就是计划的5:37/k。维也纳马拉松路线比较平,大约10k开始是个很缓上坡到18k,实际跑起来没有明显感觉。按照计划16k过后应该开始加速,但是那段太挤,好像也没人加速,就算按照5:37的配速完成也能达成2小时的目标,决定先缓一下。过了17k,明显感觉人群开始躁动。顺势提速。18k-21k平均速度5:20/k。

终点。终点在霍夫堡宫前的英雄广场。除了时间之外,我还有个目标是在专业组全马过终点之前到达,可以看他们冲线。过终点的时候看到跑半马的格布雷希拉希耶还在全马的终点处等别的同行。这次全马的冠军是Sugut, 2:08, 我过终点时表上时间是2:05。我如果等两三分钟就能看到Sugut冲线,但是我过了终点就忘记这个目标了。脑子那会有点空,只想一直走路放松。顺着通道领了奖牌和吃的。另外领了一罐无酒精的啤酒,就是前面我超过那个大啤酒瓶的牌子。喝了两口,确实不如功能饮料好喝,扔了。一直给老婆打电话,直到完全走出了终点区域,做了一下拉伸,才联系上老婆。人太多,她在终点附近根本看不到我,都不知道我已经过了好一会了。休息够了查成绩,chip time 1:58:14。平均步速5:36/k。完全按照计划完成。但是心跳比训练快了很多,全程在180以上,虽然似乎没有影响发挥,跑全马这个状态应该是不行的。

吃饭,洗澡。一切恢复正常。接下来准备主要练核心和腿部力量这些。冬天开始准备明年的全马,这之前看看今年下半年还有没有哪个近的地方能跑个半马。

A Brief History of Communix

A German design, Russian implementation, and Chinese copy.

Germans have never implemented it. Russians forced them to use the Russian implementation till it crashed.

Russians are running a new system but still influenced by the old one.

Chinese kept the core, but redesigned the system with Capitalix API. The API is not exactly compatible with the core. It’s buggy, but seriously fast. Architectural change is unlikely in near future.