I started my language courses a week ago today. Well, a week ago tomorrow considering the first day consisted of a table of croissants and chatting with our new classmates.
My course has a total of 39 students from 18 different countries. I’ve met people from Thailand, Russia, England, China, Taiwan, New Zealand, Germany, Serbia, the list goes on. I made three good friends too, a girl from Austria and two sisters from Sweden, and am so grateful to have met them.
Being around an international crowd has been a great experience so far. Even though I’ve been around a variety of students when it come to race and ethnicity because of my participation in the IB program, this is completely different.
None of us are the same age, English is not the first language for most, and we are all there for different reasons. I happen to be the youngest in the entire group. I feel like a baby at times (especially the second day when my mom took me to class while everyone else was flyin’ solo), but I enjoy getting to make connections with people who are further along in their walk of life. It’s a nice change from always being around those of the same age.
I’ve had many conversations with others about differences in the culture, food, and climate of our home country. A man from Brazil even asked me if I knew people who owned guns after finding out I’m from Texas.
Getting to know these people and having these conversations has been truly enriching. I learn more about our world and its people every day.
While this part of school has exceeded whatever expectations I had, the actual learning of Slovene had me discouraged for a bit.
I was placed into the beginner group. I was bored at first. I already knew how to say “Kako si?” and “Dober dan!” I already knew the alphabet and how to pronounce each letter. By the end of the day, all I could think was “How am I supposed to communicate with anyone if this is all they are teaching me? How long until we learn harder things? Am I ever gonna be able to speak Slovene!?”
Then I had to remind myself, “Megan, it’s been a day. You are not going to learn the whole language in a day. Calm down. It’s a process.”
Now, I actually feel grateful that I was placed in the beginner group. I already know a lot of things, which means I am one of the better students. This helped to boost my confidence which can be otherwise low when having to talk in another language in front of others.
Although I still have a long way to go and sometimes get overwhelmed when thinking of how much there is to come, it’s nice to know that I am not isolated in this feeling, nor the only one going through all that comes with learning a new language in a foreign city.
And thank goodness my cousins can speak English!!!