One day, many years ago, I decided to go to the world, to make a better life. I would have liked to close my eyes and put my finger on the map of the earth, to choose randomly, to take my life as an adventure, but at home I had moral obligations and I did not allow myself the luxury of taking sufficiently unthinking decisions.
I headed to Italy, a country that was then quite rich, with plenty of opportunities for strangers working. I only knew a few basic words, but I had confidence in myself, in people, in luck, and in my power to take life, to struggle with hardship and to win. I needed about three months to learn Italian, a language quite similar to Romanian. I could communicate easily with people, I could understand what I was asked to do, I could laugh at their jokes and even managed to make jokes.
Day by day I was getting better. I worked hard in Italy, I taught well the language of those warm, welcoming, loving people. I still remember many words and I can communicate, I can hold conversations in Italian, I can understand the words in the songs and I can write in this melodious language.
Last year, I decided to establish myself in Scotland, a country that is beautiful, clean, rich, but with a time that is not right for anyone. I loved Scotland from the first moment, even though I was often shaken by the cold or I got home with wet clothes from the rain or the weather too wet. I liked the first time people – always smiling, always eager to help and always taking care not to bother someone.
I tried and I still struggle to learn English. I know a lot of words, I learned many grammatical notions, I understand what people tell me, but I hardly manage to make sentences, to communicate as I would like. When I realize that I’m still at the beginner level in English, I’m going to swallow my tongue, not to make any sound to make me shame.
I am aware that I can not learn English or any other language if I just listen story with subtitles on YouTube or read books in that language. I know that it is necessary to communicate, to talk with people, to repeat the words I learn, if I want to integrate, to have conversations and to transmit what I have in my mind. Still, something is blocking me. Somewhere in my brain there is a blockage. I do not want to open my mouth and talk when I know I’m going to make mistakes, I’m going to look for words I do not know yet, or because of my accent people will not understand me.
Let me give you an example. I want to tell a colleague that tomorrow I go to the hot air balloon festival. I’m taking it by surprise. She does not understand what I’m telling her. She stared at me with an amazement of wonder. “Sorry?” is what she answers. I repeat the sentence, hoping that this time I can deliver the information. My colleague looked surprised. Again. I run into my mind in search of other words in English. I formulate the sentence in a different way. My colleague pretends to understand, but she does not answer anything. I feel embarrassed, I’m shy and next time I do not tell her anything, so I will not go through embarrassing situations.
That’s how I got into the situation I am today. I live in Scotland, I work in Scotland, but rarely talk to Scottish people because sometimes I do not understand them (they have a terrible accent and they use many abbreviated words or different words from the official English language) and often they do not understand me the first one. I prefer to talk with Romanians, Polish people, people from Latvia because they talk like me and, by not knowing what a miracle, we manage to get along with each other. And then, how do I learn English well?
I still wonder why I was so easy to learn Italian and communicate with the Italians even when they did not understand me from the first moment, and why is it so difficult for me to do the same thing with the Scots? How can I get to the level of knowing English so well that I can talk to other people who speak English? I would have so much to tell them and I would like to ask them so many questions …