I am Canadian and I have been living in GK for 3 months now. I have been studying German on my own and with a teacher once a week but I find that I get little contact with the locals in order to practice.
I find that just going to the supermarket or restaurant does not give me enough exposure to the language.
Would you have suggestions of activities that I could try out? I was thinking something like volunteering at the animal shelter or just some simple activity, where I could get some language practice.
Do you want to get some more practice speaking German apart from going shopping? Why don’t you join a German “Sportverein” (work-out class) or other “Vereine” (clubs) or a local choir? For example, if you like to sing, there are Gospel choirs in the area, sometimes also Gospel weekend workshops – you will meet people who should be able to understand some English, just in case, but obviously speak German. Or join a choir where people sing German and English songs.
You could also join a German group doing Nordic Walking together, sometimes the “Volkshochschule” (VHS – open university) or a “Sportverein” will offer things like that. Here, it is the VHS Heinsberg which offers classes – the next semester starts in January / February 2013. You could also become a member in a fitness studio, of course, although this might be rather expensive.
Another option: Join a “Karnevalsverein” (club involved with preparing costumes for carnival and celebrating carnival, not only in February but from November each year until about February the next year), this region is famous for its carnival!
Another idea: Why not join a German charity and support them? Volunteer work is always appreciated and will make you feel good as well!
I am sure you will find something which is suitable for you! Have fun and enjoy whatever you will be doing!