In case you were wondering, yes, this is another expat story. Like many readers, I’m yet another young professional who wanted to gain some extra life experience. I started looking for a job in a different country, and guess what: I got an offer in Germany.
I was to work in a typical German start-up, with lots of young people from around the world, innovative ideas and a lot of growth potential. In such a fast-paced international environment, English was the company language. So far so good, I thought, though I still had much to plan to move my whole life from one country to another, including a lot of paperwork to fill out and flats to view.
But before I knew it, I was settled in and very excited about the new opportunities that life had presented.
Overcoming the language barrier
But then one problem began to bother me more and more each day. While I had met many people, and some had even become great friends, they were all expats like myself. Don’t get me wrong: spending time with people with the same experience was a lot of fun, but I had the feeling I was missing out on the “real experience”. I felt like a tourist that goes on holiday to Mallorca and immediately hits the first Irish pub he sees, never making the effort to immerse himself with the local Spanish culture.
I decided to take action and make an effort to learn the language. This is when the struggle began — and it turns out it’s not just my problem. My romantic idea of learning a new language in addition to my day job, grocery shopping, cleaning and other daily chores began to crumble: I couldn’t do it all. Even signing up was a battle, as most language courses were full and required complicated bureaucratic steps. Then, of course, there was the commute to the German language school after work and the inflexible hours. When I did manage to get to class, I was lost. To make long story short, I failed horribly — just look at how the German language changes depending on the region.
I thought of studying German by myself without a fixed schedule and having my girlfriend correct my mistakes. As anyone with a German partner knows, however, that almost never works.