One of the hardest parts about living in a foreign country is the language. Of course this seems pretty obvious, but it is a LOT more difficult than I imagined. It’s not just that I can’t talk to people or communicate. The difficult part is being reduced to an infant when trying to communicate what you are feeling. I so badly want to express myself. I wish there were ways for me to effectively pass along what I really want to say. But when I meet people for the first time in this country, I have the perception that the first thing they know about me is, “oh, his language is choppy”. I really don’t like that that is the first thing that people might know about me. First impressions are important, and it’s frustrating knowing how mine are shaped here.
Of course, that just might be my perception. The fact is, I HAVE come a LONG way with the language. When I look back over the past ten months I’m pretty amazed how far I’ve come. I remember really struggling with Spanish in high school. I don’t think language learning is my forte. But considering I’ve never really become anything close to fluent in any other language (besides English), I’m quite encouraged.
Sometimes I make the unfortunate mistake of comparing myself to others- especially single (non-married) people. They have made better progress with language learning for a variety of reasons, but I think the main reason is simply that they have more time to study and hang out with native speakers. Over time that makes a BIG difference, and I’ve seen it happen here. But it’s just not fair to compare apples to oranges. Married people have a totally different set of priorities.
One thing I’m looking forward to is moving to our next location in a few months. I have a vision of sitting in front of my house (or our neighbors house) and just shooting the breeze for a while. I look forward to spending time with locals in our next neighborhood. That is the practice I need coupled with the chance for a local friend. My heart and my language will really race along then.