I wish I would have known everything I was giving up, when I moved abroad and had a child on foreign soil. Alas.
Of course there are great things about it, at least in the first few years. But, after awhile, unless you find a calling that you feel you can best pursue in that location, there’s no place like home. Call me Dorothy.
One thing that’s changed is the situation with American candy.
I used to need care packages full of sweet tarts.
But oh, globalization.
Wow things have changed. I was at an electronics store to buy my ten year old a video game & there was a candy shelf with purely American offerings.
From Skittles to Hershey and everything Wonka, it was all American. I guess the world is getting smaller and smaller.
Still doesn’t make me feel less isolated and foreign here.
…because I don’t speak the language. Well, I do, but not fluently. Funnily enough I have no problem with people who honestly don’t speak English and honestly wish to talk to me. It’s those who do speak English but really want to see me ‘perform’ their language for them as entertainment, and switch to this half-smile, “let’s see the monkey do her trick” patronizing, eye twinkling look on their face and switch from English and then practically pant, waiting to see how I’ll respond in their native tongue.
F*** off. I’m not a precocious child or a cat doing something adorable on YouTube, and I have no wish to be treated so condescendingly. If that’s the attitude, then I’d rather walk out of the room then turn tricks for people who are treating me like an oddity, even if they mean it warmly and positively…. I don’t want to be even a warmly regarded oddity. I just want to be me, and treated the same as I’m used to being treated in English.
My fiance’s mother doesn’t think it’s adorable when I respond to her in her language. That is SUCH a relief. With her, there isn’t an alternative, and she genuinely wishes to talk to me, and there’s no ‘performance’ feeling about it, she would just really like to talk to me. I can’t resist that, plus she never acts confused if I make a grammar mistake or has any trouble understanding my version of her language. It’s almost like there isn’t a language barrier. If I struggle to find the right word, I don’t get flustered or embarrassed around her, because I’m not performing. I’m not on stage, with her. Or people like her, who are usually older, or for whatever reason have no English skills to speak of. They are so apologetic of being in the small minority in the western world who doesn’t have functional English language skills, that they would never look down on me or giggle or condescend to me for not being fluent in their language which is spoken by a relatively small group of people on the planet.
I need to be more in situations with people who don’t speak English, so I can just practice the darned local language without reservation or irritation. The majority of people in my generation are simply so good at English that it’s too easy to be lazy and it’s too easy for me to get tongue-tied at embarrassing myself in their language when the option to switch to English, a language that fluently works bilaterally, is there and irresistible.