Question 23: What has fear or failure stopped you from doing?
My Answer: We knew we'd be coming here to Austria about six months prior to the actual move. To some that doesn't sound like nearly enough time to prepare for a move overseas, especially when quitting your jobs and selling almost all of your possessions is part of the package, but to us, it really was plenty of time. We were ready, because we knew God had great plans for us here; we knew -- and still know -- that this is where God has planted us for this season of our lives.
In preparation for the move, among all of the other major and minor details, I started studying German. At the strong recommendation of the school we came to work for, I took a paid online course. In addition to the online course, I studied three different German Learning books that I had purchased at a book store. I would study in the morning as I waited for the clock to change so I could punch in to work; I studied during my ten-minute break and my half-hour lunch break during work hours; in the evenings when there was spare time, I'd study my books, play a German Learning game I had on my phone, and I'd complete assignments for my online course.
I felt like I was really getting a hang of the language. It wasn't easy, by any means, but fortunately there were a couple of girls at work that knew some German and they were able to give me tips on memorizing some grammar rules, in addition to what I was learning on my own. I was feeling pretty confident, actually. Due to some confusion and miscommunication, my online course was actually started only a month or so before our move, and I was unable to complete the course because we didn't have the means (a PC and WiFi) for me to continue once we got here. I didn't let that get me down though, because I knew I'd be fine. Besides, the school was offering staff and volunteers German courses, so I'd just attend one of those and catch up right where I left off.
I tested into an A2 level class, which is advanced beginner, basically. I soon realized, to the dismay of my pride, that I was a bit in over my head, and requested to move down to the A1 level. My husband was in that level, besides, so we got to take the class together for awhile! Lo and behold, the A1 class was too easy for me, and the instructor wasn't really teaching the language, he was just having the class practice listening to and reading in German by watching YouTube videos at home and reading the local newspaper. Thanks, but no thanks. I have a child at home who needs me.
I really did need to keep learning, though, because it didn't take long -- actually it was less than 24 hours -- for me to realize that the language spoken here was not the German I had learned before we came. Just like any other language, there are many different dialects of German, and Vienna's is completely different than the High German that I had been practicing. Not only does it sound completely different, but the vocabulary is different, as well!
I found myself becoming very discouraged, very early on.
I didn't have the time, we didn't have the resources, and quite honestly, I had lost almost all motivation to continue learning -- that is, to relearn -- German. I felt completely lost, pretty stupid, embarrassed, and alone.
I reached out to one of our school's secondary German teachers to see if I could sit in on a couple of classes a week, but was turned down. I was too scared to try out the German I thought I had learned on anyone; I was too scared to mess up, too embarrassed by my probable accent, and almost everything I had learned started to fade from my memory, because I wasn't using my knowledge anymore, and because I had become so discouraged that I basically gave up learning any more.
I've retained the basics and have enough German knowledge to have successfully passed the official A1 and A2 tests, in order to renew my visa, but really you guys, when it comes down to it, all I can do is order food, ask and answer some important questions, maybe give directions (if I understand the accent when asked), and, you know, basic stuff. Stuff to live on.
And I guess that's enough, but we've been here for three years, and I honestly feel like I've forgotten more than I've learned in that time. I'd love to take a class -- a real one -- but again: no time, no resources. I bought a German Learning program so that I could relearn at home on the computer, but I haven't made time for it yet, and I'm actually embarrassed to practice in front of my husband and son. (My husband thinks he knows more German than he does, but don't tell him that. My son knows more German than he thinks he does, but don't tell him that, either.) And yes I've got apps downloaded on my phone, and I've registered with two free online programs, but still, I am afraid.
Let's just say that now, in this particular subject, I get really discouraged really easily, and without someone cheering me on -- but not in a condescending or patronizing way, because I've experienced those tutors and friends -- I'm just here, longing to learn, and praying for someone to tell me that I still can.
Well, now. That was long and drawn out, and a bit depressing.
I never said I had it all together.
YOUR TURN: Without throwing a pity party for yourself, like I have done, tell me what fear or failure has stopped you from doing! I'd love to encourage you. Tell me how I can in the comments! ⤵︎