New challenges, new perspectives

Week 2 is finito and much like week 1, the second week has been an absolute rollercoaster of emotions.

This week was much, much better in terms of the level of teaching. I was placed in the beginners class again, which meant learning basic grammar rules and conjugations, which really helped me piece together what I didn’t understand in the first week. It’s funny, now that I have some solid foundations to work from, concepts that were so scary and unfamiliar to me in the first week are really starting to piece together. I am still really slow at understanding, but I am definitely feeling more confident in my ability to (one day) get my head around it all!

While I don’t want to focus too much on the negatives, like i said in last week’s post, I do think it is important to reflect on the challenges, as they are what make our experiences unique and meaningful. With that in mind, I have to say, this week was probably more difficult for me than last, but for a very different reason. While last week was hard intellectually, it was really easy socially. There were a real mix of personalities in our class, so people were always making jokes (sometimes inappropriate) and chatting to each other, which made the days go by really quickly. All of the Spanish speakers made a real effort to speak English to me, and explain what I didn’t understand, which I have now realised, I definitely took for granted.

Because this new group of people, they ain’t so inclusive.

Not only was my new class big (there were about 10 of us), I was again, one of two non-Spanish speakers. But this time, the Spanish speakers were very cliquey; as soon as they all realised that they had their language in common they banded together, making it a real us-and-them experience. And this time, I didn’t even have Ben by my side cracking dad jokes or giving me a ‘you got this’ smile. Making things worse, Ben’s class was right next door to ours, and I could hear him and my old classmates laughing all day long, which made me feel… kind of lonely.

Feeling lonely in class was a really interesting experience because it was quite new to me. While I was never a popular kid at school or at uni, I always had friends around me, keeping me company and chatting with me all day long. I never really felt excluded or different, which this experience has made me feel so grateful for! But I digress.

So here comes meltdown numero due. It was a Thursday again (interesting, no?), and I had been progressively feeling more and more isolated. The whole class had spent the majority of the day talking and joking in a mix of Spanish and Italian, which knowing neither of those languages, meant I didn’t understand a single word that was being said. I met Ben after class and he was beaming; he had spent the whole day laughing with his class and was excited to have learnt so much. Through absolutely no fault of his own, this highlighted how bad I was feeling, and it sent me spiralling.

Luckily, after a little cry and a gelato binge, I was able to take a step back and reflect on why I was having such a strong emotional reaction. Interestingly, I started seeing the value in feeling lonely, and was able to start work through the discomfort of it. I know that moving to another county isn’t always going to be easy, and I have no doubt there will be times when I’m going to feel really lonely. Back home I have some really good friends, so good in fact, I’d call them my ‘people’. I connected with them on a level that went beyond friendship, which is very difficult to describe in words. And while I’m sure that I will make friends in London, will I be able to call them my ‘people’? Probably not, at least not instantly.

So I guess that’s why I’m weirdly enjoying the discomfort of loneliness at the moment. Sure, it’s been truly unenjoyable at times, but I’m starting to see the benefit of it. I’m hoping that it will help me to grow as a person, and keep me reflecting on some of the things I have maybe taken for granted in the past.

But for now, I’m going to keep persevering with building my Italian vocabulary, so that maybe, I might be able to make a friend or two by the end of next week. Or maybe I’ll just practice saying ‘hola’ 🙂

2 Responses

  1. Hey Frank
    I learnt Spanish many years ago at a school that sounds similar to yours. They were best but also the hardest few weeks of my life! Keep going, you will get there, don’t let the challenges hold you back.

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