Waking up this morning, I still wasn't sure whether what I was about to do would make me feel like a cowardly drop-out, or a braver, more in-touch-with-myself-person; the kind that can be a good friend to herself.
A month ago today, I started Turkish classes at state language school here in Izmir with a group of foreigners. From the start, I found the schedule too intense (4 hours a day, 5 days a week plus 2 hours a day getting there and back) and the general rhythm not to my taste. The fact that everyone but me was actually living with a Turkish boyfriend, husband, father, mother, aunt, or had a doctorate in Turkish lit. didn't really help.
The first week was exhausting as they always are. After that, most afternoons I felt so tired and heavy with indigested novelties that by the time I got home, the last thing I felt like doing was getting my head around more Turkish and doing my homework. Some days, I actually took afternoon naps I was so tired! Why is this so hard? Has my brain reached it's maximum capacity of foreign languages? Frustration at constantly trying to keep up was brimming and sapping ever more energy. Why am I doing this? Yes, I want to learn the language, but can I keep a minimum of a life too?
I hung in there.
At the end of September, I took the oral and the 4 hour (!!!) written exam, which completed level 1 and enabled me to continue on to level 2. I passed it with a pretty good score and felt almost disappointed.
On Monday, level 2 started. The size of the class had doubled but was one person short for them to split the class in two. I found myself even more frustrated due to the lack of time for each of us to practice speaking and ask individual questions. With an even larger number of people whose knowledge of Turkish way surpassed mine, keeping up was more than a headache. I felt totally miserable at the perspective of going on with the "up at 6 to enjoy 4 hours of running after comprehension before trying to figure it out at home" routine.
Waking up this morning I thought: "I've got to make learning Turkish a bit more pleasurable and find a format that's more in tune with my current level and pace or I'm going to end up hating the language".
The little devil on my shoulder piped up immediately: "You drop out. How do you expect to learn if you give it up after one month?"
I felt queasy. I'm really shite at letting go/ giving up/ leaving. Like a dog with his bone. Somehow a part of me still adheres to "you go on no matter what". Even if it's stupid, fruitless, bad for me, whatever. Up bringing, has a strong hold no matter what you learn later in life. Plus I'm stubborn.
I went to school but not to class. I waited for the break at the end of the first hour and spotted the teacher.
Couldn't you find the class? (Ouch!)
Actually, I was waiting for you. Can we talk?
Off we go to an empty class room. I explain that I'm feeling really frustrated while constantly striving to keep up with people who practice Turkish all day long, that he's a great teacher but that the format is not working for me, that I learn better when I'm happy and comfortable, and does he by any chance give private lessons?
Hurrah! He does. And he will. And he lives not far from us, so there's a no-more 2-hour-traffic-jams bonus.
Here's to making things easier on yourself 'cause you can, and 'cause it's OK.
Thanks to my honey for knowing the devil on my shoulder and helping me make the good guys win.
stubbornness expat musings foreign language learning Turkish