Trying to master a foreign language


In a foreign language, social awkwardness is multiplied one hundred fold. If you’re slightly shy and a bit awkward in your own language, then in the new language it’s the same, only worse. The only difference is you have no hope of truly connecting, so you don’t even try. Instead of a full-fledged personality, you settle for a persona. You’re “the foreigner”.

Being the foreigner is not a bad deal. Au contraire, It makes you special. If you avoid other expats, If you wait patiently, inevitably someone will adopt you, take you home, and show you off to their friends.

You will meet interesting people. You won’t “get” them. You can never know what they know, or understand their experience, but, as your communication skills improve, you can get a glimpse–more than a glimpse–of a different reality. For a moment, you forget yourself, and when you come back to yourself, you find that you have grown.


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