My mom and I have a running joke about how I constantly think that things are going to be terrible, that I’m going to hate it or mess up or it’s going to generally suck. But 90% of the time, I come out of it saying, “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” She says that’s going to be engraved on my tombstone. Well, I’ve done it again.
Three weeks ago, I was terrified out of my mind about leaving our American bubble at Language Camp. I thought I wasn’t going to make friends, I wouldn’t be able to speak German with anyone, and I would be completely and totally lost at school. Turns out, none of it is actually that bad.
The strangest part is that my worries were still somewhat accurate. Making friends was difficult, I struggle to understand my classes and I do still get a little embarrassed by language mistakes. I was expecting that, prepared for it even. But their difficulty was not nearly as debilitating as I anticipated (and for that, I’m incredibly relieved).
My biggest obstacle since arriving in my host community has been trying to get my point across when I don’t have all of the words to do it. The feeling of limitation which comes with the lack of fluency in a language is an incredibly frustrating feeling. I often find myself dismissing things I would normally say in a conversation, simply because I don’t know how to say them in German. I feel as though my personality has been narrowed, and I don’t know how to express that to the people around me.
However, ‘difficult’ doesn’t necessarily equate to ‘bad’! I’ve already tried new things and made memories I couldn’t have foreseen. I’ve tried trampolining, Fischbrötchen, visited a German flea market, had my first cello lesson in German, and yes, I’ve even made a few friends.
Despite feeling limited in some areas, I feel incredibly freed in others. I feel now, more than ever, as though this opportunity which I’ve been presented with is a chance for me to learn about myself, the world, and to get to grow. And that’s just what I’m going to do this year.