Hello sweet peas!
As you probably know I spent December and January living in Germany as an exchange student, and whilst it was an absolutely amazing time, and it is the coolest thing being able to tell you all about the awesome experiences I had and places I went, I think an important and topical post that I must write is about what it is like to be the foreign language speaker.
I was on the exchange anyway so I could put my four years of learning into practice, and honestly it was 100% worth it – but that’s not to say it didn’t take a lot of time and perseverance. And yes of course the ol’ sweat and tears (a lot of tears!!). For the first time in my life I found myself somewhere where I did not speak the main language, and no one else spoke mine – not fluently or natively. I didn’t have anyone from NZ close to where I was living, and no native English speakers. And of course whilst my host family’s English was great, it just wasn’t the same as the carefree way I can say random rubbish in English with people in NZ.
Plus, it was the first time ever that I had actually be labelled “different” or sought out because I didn’t speak the language fully. Not in a deliberately bad way, but it really did have an effect on me. And of course got to the point where they assumed I didn’t speak the language; that was true, I didn’t necessarily have the skills to say a lot correctly, but I understood almost everything by the last two weeks. Especially when they were talking about me! 😉
I’m not writing this to complain, but more because as you know I love being to help others by sharing my experiences, and I can not implore you enough to make an effort to have patience with foreign language speakers, and to actually talk to someone who doesn’t have English as their first language. Especially when you have exchange students at your school – I have already done my best to make more of an effort with exchange students.
One thing is that I am so grateful to have had the experience, and that through it all I met some awesome people, and actually learnt quite a bit!! Plus, I am so grateful that I at least speak English fairly fluently 😉 As someone who loves to talk, having something restrict that is horrible! I am so glad I have an outlet here! 🙂
I would love to hear about any experiences you have had with a similar thing, because I know I am not the first, last, or had the hardest time with language barriers! I truly would love to know your thoughts on this 🙂
Until next time,