Thoughts after 4 months.

 

When I first told people my plans to go move to another country I was always surprised by the reactions that people gave me. I can recall the reaction of “ YOU ARE CRAZY! ”  from my father and the hysteria of my mother upon hearing the news that I really am not going to Spain for only a year like I had told them, but instead, I would be going abroad indefinitely. After telling people my plans they would always ask me this next question, “How long are you going to be there for?” followed next by surprise when I told them my answer of a shoulder shrug and that “I really have no idea”. In reality, I really didn’t want to look into it deeper than that because the thought of me selling my car, buying a one-way ticket, and traveling 4,000 miles away from home across an ocean that my great grandparents risked their lives in to get me to where I am today, really did scare me a lot.

I was also surprised with the restrictions people seemed to place on this little plan of mine. I think that the thought that someone moves away from the US seems like a really odd concept to many Americans. Throughout primary and secondary schooling we are always taught about how hard the immigrants in the 19th and 20th century had to fight in order to have a better life and that often the United States was their goal.One thing that I think about quite often is about the bigger picture, what am I doing with my life. SOLUTION: from the many people I have spoken with, many article I have read and other information gathered on the topic there is no plan for someones life. Things just happen, and then because of that another thing happens based on the choices that you make. This linear path that people seem to associate with adulthood and old age is usually pieced together in hindsight while ignoring other facts and events that may not support this linear path.

I don’t regret coming here at all. I am not nearly as obsessed as I was before about leaving the U.S. and finding work abroad. However, this could be because I already do live and work abroad. I do miss home a lot and having to live in another country and see that your friends’ and family’s lives still go on when you are not there is pretty difficult. However, everyday it gets easier, everyday you meet new people, and every day you get used to the little differences, such as everything being closed from 2- 4 or not having a car and needing to walk/ take a bus everywhere.  

Signed, 

An American Living Abroad. 

 

Myths of Studying Abroad: Fluency

Every year thousands ,although I wish it were more, of  American students choose study abroad. Many go with various expectations. However, I find that many students get the wrong Idea going into it and often they are left disappointed upon departure back to their home. So let me clear some things up for any student or parent’s of students that are studying abroad in the upcoming years.

The Myth: 

“When I get back I am going to be so fluent in my chosen language that I will speak like a native.” 

While yes there are cases where students go abroad after years of studying and become very comfortable and fluid in the language. Many students who go abroad have only studied the language for 2-3 years and it would be outrageous to think that in 3 months, or even a years time, that you would be able to learn and have enough practice with the language to be able to speak like a native.

Fluency, is a word that should be taken out of the language learners mentality. It gives the false impression that you have reached this level where you no longer have to work on the language and can conduct yourself in all topics, No. Language learning is an ongoing process that never stops and the learner needs to continuously work on adding new words and remembering old ones. It becomes a lot easier as time goes on and yes there becomes a point where the language feels natural to you, but is there a point where you can say, “Today I am fluent, but yesterday I was not?” No.

Conclusion:

Parents and friends: Don’t expect them to be able to go abroad for 3 months and then come back and be language gods.

Students: Just enjoy yourself and accept that language learning is an ongoing thing, that there are going to be awkward moments when you have NO idea what they are saying, and just strive to be a better speaker than you were the day before.  Don’t be discouraged by little mistakes, even natives make mistakes when speaking.