Moving to a new country, is exciting, stressful, and challenging, but rewarding. The lesson is not only about learning a new language and culture, but learning about yourself and what you’re capable of. It’s almost like having to re-learn and build up the confidence to do things that you already know how to do, but in a new place.
Learning to Communicate
It’s a very humbling experience when you go from being completely independent to having to ask people to speak slower or repeat themselves because you don’t understand. I’ve had moments when I’ve felt embarrassed and out of place just because I can’t communicate properly what I want to say. At the grocery store once, I had a cashier yell at me because I didn’t know I was supposed to put in the PIN for my debit card and while I was staying in the Hospital after giving birth, a nurse tried talking to me and when I told her I didn’t understand, rather than trying to explain better, she just rolled her eyes and walked away. At the end of the day, I know it’s my duty to learn the language of the country that I’m in and I know that it will just take time and I often remind myself not to get discouraged by negative interactions.
Learning to Drive
If I’m completely honest, there are probably a lot of things I’d rather do than having to learn how to drive a car again and I’m so happy that phase of my life is over. But then there’s driving in a foreign country with different road signs, more cars on the road, more bikes and more pedestrians, not to mention the Autobahn with its unlimited speeds. It can all be so overwhelming! While the first 2 times I drove in Germany were only about 5 minute trips, the third time was without my husband, heading almost 2 hours away to the Amsterdam airport with my mom and 1 week old daughter to pick up my dad. Needless to say, I was quite nervous about it! Obviously, we survived, but as we were on the way home my Dad had said that a lot of people probably wouldn’t have made the trip if they were in my position. It showed me that, out of necessity, we can push ourselves to accomplish things that we may not think we are capable of.
Learning New Social Etiquette
Like most people, I really just want to blend into a crowd and standing in the middle of a bike lane while trying to take a picture of a local landmark, completely oblivious to your surroundings is definitely not the way to do it! I have since learned to pay more attention to my surroundings and follow the cues of other people around me. It will probably take me a while to figure it all out and I’ll still always be a foreigner here anyways.
Whether you like to travel or not, there are still going to be times in every persons life when you feel compelled to try something new and we can’t let the fear of making mistakes or feeling embarrassed be the deciding factor for how we live our lives.
I’d love to hear your experiences of a time in your life when you tried something new, felt completely out of element, but then felt more confident in yourself in the end. It’s always inspiring to hear other peoples stories as well!