Sunday, July 29, 2012

I hit the language wall

       Everybody told me it would happen.  All the other English speakers said, "One day, a few months in, you'll hit a wall with the language and you won't want to go on.  You'll be frustrated with your progress, and you'll happily retreat into your English language bubble.  You'll want to go home.  Or, you'll want to take the train to Hamburg and swim in England.  But," they all told me, "if you can get past that wall, if you can open your books one more time, then you'll be glad you did."
       Well, this past week I've been hitting the wall.  My German as a foreign language class is out for the summer, and my tutoring duties at the high school are out for the summer too.  Many of my friends are gone on their various vacations.  I find myself spending a little too much time at home, a little too much time reading articles on the internet, a little too much time sitting around.  And a little too little time working on German.  It's just so HARD!!  It's also hard to talk to my European friends who speak so many languages so well and for whom some things just come so easily.
       Last Friday I mentioned my frustrations to a Polish friend of mine who speaks a gazillion languages perfectly.  As good friends do, she told me she understood and then lit a little bit of a fire under my ass.  She said she understood, that she's felt that way herself sometimes.  But that most people live their whole lives in their home countries, and that I need to look at living in Germany not as a chore but as an opportunity to do something really interesting.  Rather than thinking about the job I loved that I had to leave at home, I should be thinking about the skills I could acquire here.  And she's right.
       Next Wednesday, we go to Russia for a ten day vacation.  Germany may be foreign, but Russia is really, really foreign.  They have a backwards R.  You guys - they have a backwards R.  A BACKWARDS R!!!  What is that?!  I have no idea.  I am excited for the trip.  I am excited for so many reasons, like the museums, the food, the palaces, the art, the culture.  But I'm also excited to get home.  Perhaps after leaving and coming back, I'll realize how familiar Germany and the German language really are.  I'll walk down the streets I know well, shop in the supermarkets where I know where they keep the brands I like, and it won't feel so foreign anymore.
       Fingers crossed.

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