Moving abroad: My Goals
For me, reflection and analysis are part of the intrinsic make-up of my character. I’ve always liked to think (perhaps too deeply) about my decisions, my relationships, my hopes and my goals. Chance would have it that right now, there are a number of contributing factors that are causing me to think about these things with even more seriousness and regularity. These factors are:
- My recent graduation from the University of Leeds (sob)
- A relatively recent end to a relationship (see next bullet point for details)
- My imminent move to Germany to teach English in two schools
- My even more imminent 23rd birthday (also sob)
This means that how I would have described myself even 6 months ago has now changed: rather than a not-single 22-year-old student from England, I will now be a single, 23-year-old graduate in Germany. Not particularly drastic I appreciate (I’m hardly sacking it all off to marry an Italian and raise alpacas in rural Peru – as tempting/fascinating as that sounds). However, it is enough to warrant some self-questioning. I decided that before I get out to Nuremberg, I should set myself a rough outline of what I want to achieve from my time as an English Language Assistant. This is primarily so I don’t end up drifting in an aimless, dream-like, Netflix-and-sausage-fuelled state throughout the entirety of my 8-month contract.
Improve my language
I am a French and German graduate from a British university. For those not in the know, these are the language graduate basics:
- I’ve been learning these languages on a compulsory basis since I was in primary school.
- I can talk to you about Jewish female literature, French cinema, the variations in the Swiss and Austrian voting systems, how to conjugate irregular verbs in a multitude of tenses and the German Expressionist movement.
- HOWEVER, if you catch me unawares on the street in Germany and ask me where the nearest U-Bahn station is, I will forget how to articulate basic directions and flap around uselessly like a beached fresh-water fish until you inevitably take pity on me and move onto the next (more useful) person.
- In casual conversation with German flatmates in the kitchen, I am convinced I cannot hold my own and will be found sipping my beer quietly and hoping no one asks me anything too detailed.
It’s a flaw of the British higher education system that we produce language graduates who can talk in detail about academic points of a particular culture but struggle to hold a conversation about the weather. I’m therefore making it my mission to get all aspects of my language up to a standard of fluency that I’m happy with (i.e. much less useless flapping, mark my words).
Take up new hobbies
While I’m there, my contract involves working a grand total of 12 hours a week. Whilst in one sense that is a dream, it also leaves a LOT of free time to fill. If I know myself, that free time can easily turn into 4 seasons of Mad Men in a fortnight. So, it’s time for me to take up some hobbies. On my ‘To-Try’ list? Bouldering, running, learning to cook properly and (of course) blogging. The plan is to be a super-fit spider monkey seasoned chef-cum-blogger by May…I’ll keep you all updated on my progress, or lack thereof, on that one.
Put myself out there (in a friendship sort of way, before you ask)
Making friends can be hard. Making friends with people who don’t understand the cultural importance we attach to the Great British Bake Off and sometimes find your German accent so impenetrable that they just nod in agreement with whatever you’re (trying to) say is harder. That’s why I’m challenging myself to thoroughly involve myself in any and all plans that get mentioned to me. Heading to IKEA? I’ll come. Want company whilst queuing at the Bürgeramt? I’m in. Getting a filling in your back left molar? See you there! Watch out Nuremberg – a friendless English girl is coming and she’s going to forcibly insert herself into your life, whether you want her to or not.