Sunday, May 6, 2012

Stream of Consciousness Sunday - Need a little humility? Just learn a new language!


Learning a new language in a new country has to be one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I have a new appreciation for people who are illiterate. I now know what it's like to try and read a sign and have no idea what it says. There have been some days in the past five weeks where I have felt like a five year old, starting all over again. And yet, when you do start to make progress it's one of the best feelings in the world. When one day I understand even just one word I didn't understand the day before, I'm proud. I was only able to study German for about six-eight weeks before I came to Germany (other than a brief stint back in high school) and although I have studied other languages and feel I'm a pretty competent language learner I felt and feel like an idiot many times a day.

I guess you could say that I'm lucky in that most Germans speak some English so when I'm stuck they will almost always switch into English and help me out, but on the other hand it doesn't force me to learn as quickly. Many Germans also love to practice and speak English so they will often switch just because they enjoy it too. If I had a penny for every time a German has said to me "Oh my English isn't so good" and then they speak to me in excellent English, well, I could have paid for my flight over here by now. In any case, although I know I'm slowly making progress it is the most frustrating feeling in the world not being able to communicate with someone. There is a Polish girl in my German class who seems very nice, but all we can do is speak to each other in basic German. There are only so many times you can say things like "Today it is sunny" and "We will bring bratwurst to the picnic" before the conversation kind of comes to a halt. I want to be fluent already, but I know it's going to take...well...A LOT of time, a lot of practice, a lot of patience and a huge buckets full of courage and humility. I have so much respect for people who move to countries where they don't speak a word of the language and yet somehow get by. I've had support here and yet there are still days and moments where I feel entirely helpless and isolated due to my lack of German skills. There are days I just want a website to be in English so much it hurts. And yet, I'm also grateful for this. I'm grateful for German dubbing that makes me watch movies and TV shows auf Deutsch. I'm grateful for websites that aren't translated into English...it's forcing me to learn. And maybe in six months from now I will be able to read the news on the TVs on the trains and understand every word. Here's hoping.
This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

1. Set a timer and write for 5 minutes.
2. Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
3. Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
4. Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
5. Link up your post.
6. Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.

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