I immigrated twice in my life now. Once as a preteen to Canada and now as an adult to Germany. Both times as a woman. When moving to Germany I thought: “Oh well. I’ve done it once and succeed at it. I can do it again.”
That was about a year ago. Had you asked me a year ago whether I was worried or anything I would have laughed and said I’ve done it once, I’ll do it again. Now a days if you ask me how it is coming along I will tell you I’m blessed in so many ways and at the same time I cry at least once a month if not more because of how difficult I sometimes find it.
As a kid I learned the language in 6 months by being immersed in it. As an adult after a year into being “immersed” in the language, I’m halfway through what is considered proficient. I’ll let you laugh while you realized that life truly hit me with a curveball there and by own making.
This experience has really helped me grow. As a child I found it quite easy to integrate into a new culture. Everyone I meet my age was interested in learning where I came from, why I looked different, why I did things a certain way and was willing to help me learn the language. They were willing to take me into their circle of friends quite readily. It was an interesting experience as I truly didn’t understand why suddenly it seemed people were interested in me. You know as children, making friends sometimes is as easy as having the confidence of saying: “Hey! I’m xxx. Let’s be friends.”
Then you hit your teenage years and you are pretty set in your ways and circles. But you still find things to bond over. I mean you are stuck in a school for most of your day and in order to survive you find someone to laugh with. This makes for solid friendships. Those friendships where you can look back and laugh at your old days.
So I never truly understood why my parents were having such a hard time in finding new friends and integrating as well as we did. Now as an adult moving to a new country it felt like a lightbulb went on. I’m quite younger than the age my parents were when they moved and yet I feel for them now. It has helped me view their life in a more understanding way.
Right now I’m not in University anymore which means I’m not in a classroom with people with the same interests or still willing to try new experiences. I’m at an age were half my age group is either still in University specializing in their careers or they are focusing on building their careers or building and balancing families and therefore don’t have much time to spare. I get it. I have some of the same goals.
So should I just give up? I can tell you it’s hard but not impossible. It’s like when a turtle just hatches and has to go to the ocean. The odds are not in their favour and yet they all try to get into the water.
So what do I do to learn and integrate? Tun in next week to find out.
After all don’t you want to find out more to understand the process and how it has changed me?