7 Ways Learning a Language is Like Being the Parent of a Newborn

We are currently in the middle of learning our third language (not counting the snippets of Spanish and American Sign Language we both picked up growing up). As I’m going through this process again, it struck me once again how humbling it is to start learning to communicate from scratch.

7 Ways Learning a Language is Like Being the Parent of a NewbornA friend recently asked me what language learning is like. As I described it, I realized it is a lot like the first days of parenting a newborn. So, for those of you who have never learned another language, maybe this will help you understand your language-learning friends a bit better (or those you encounter in public who are learning your language!). For those of my friends who have learned/are learning one, I commiserate with you.

1. Its frustrating. Like, way more frustrating than you would have expected. All of the travel brochures make it seem like a dream come true. Yet nothing makes sense, everything takes at least three times as long to do as it used to, and you’re never quite sure you’re doing it right. And someone else always has an opinion about how you should be doing it differently.

2. You’re tired. Exhausted. Brain dead. You now have trouble making a coherent sentence in either the new language or your mother tongue. You resort to a lot of grunting and pointing because you’re just too tired to make the effort to use real words. You have bags under your eyes and your clothes may or may not match because you just don’t care anymore. Your whole body hurts and you wonder how such a small thing can suck so much life and energy out of you.

3. You pantomime. A lot. You talk in weird voices, make creepy faces and say things you never would normally say. Once proud of your literary prowess, you are now reduced to speaking one syllable words in a Me-Tarzan-You-Jane tambour while using the words most 3 year olds in your new culture mastered long ago. “Where milk? Need Bread.”

4. You get overly excited at the tiniest  most mundane of achievements – and completely over share them with your friends, family, postman, or anyone else that will listen. You may or may not also have photos to go along with your story. “You guys! You guys! I totally used the Genitive case today while I was in the store! It was so cool! I was all….”

5. You make relationships with people you otherwise never would have met. The depths of these friendships shock and move you. You’re in a club now. The Language Learners of the World club. You’ve been through the war of tenses, conjugations, and irregular verbs together. You’ve toughed it out in the trenches of homework no one understands. You’ve all spent sleepless nights stressing over that autobiography or class presentation you’re supposed to do. It’s the blind leading the blind, and you’re friends for life now.

6. A few months into the process you look back and see how far you’ve come. You’re feeling more comfortable with the language, using it in daily life. You start to think, “I’ve got this! I can totally do this!” You might even start to imagine what it might be like to learn another new language. You picture yourself with your adorable little set of foreign languages and how fun it would be to travel together. And then you have the verbal equivalent of a complete diaper blow out all over yourself in public. And you decide maybe you don’t need another new language after all.

7. It’s one of the hardest things you have ever done, and yet one of the most valuable. It brings you closer to others, teaches you things about yourself you never knew, and pushes you to grow beyond what you ever thought possible.

Have you ever learned another language? What do you think – is it like having a newborn all over again? If you have never learned another language, what language would you learn if you did?

 

A Little Bit of My Story

Who We AreHave you ever wondered how in the world my family and I ended up halfway around the world from home?

Do you ever wonder why I started writing?

Well today, dear friend, you’re in luck because all your questions will be answered! Well, maybe not all, but I’m telling a little bit of my story over at The Better Mom. Our June series over there is Who We Are. It’s a chance for all of us who contribute there to share a bit about who we are – and hopefully learn a bit about who you are, too!

Photo by Deibel Photography

Photo by Deibel Photography

So, hop on over and say hello!

If you’ve just clicked over from The Better Mom, I want to say, Herzlich Willkommen! Grab a Cafe Melange, get comfy and hang out awhile!

When Beauty Takes You By Surprise

Have you ever been to a particular place upteenmillion times, and on the upteenmillionandfirst time you go, you notice something absolutely amazing? Something that had been there the whole time but you had been so immersed in you own stuff you had never seen it?Look-Up-768x1024

I had one such experience recently and it was such a good and valuable reminder for me, I just had to share it with you.

Join me today at The Better Mom as I remind us all to take time everyday to look up!

If you’ve just joined us here from The Better Mom, welcome!! I’m so glad you’ve come over to hang out for a little while. Grab your favorite culpa (if it happens to be a half-price Cherry Limeade from Sonic, please to tell me because I can’t get those here), make yourself at home and look around.

Parenting, Transition, and Working Without a Net

It seems as though much of what we hear about in Christian circles these days is balance. Balance in our homes, balance in our Spiritual lives, balance in our health.

20140423-135835.jpgHowever, my family is living proof that sometimes balance just isn’t possible, and that’s ok.

I’m over at The Better Mom today addressing what we can do in times when balance is just not possible – to keep things from spiraling too far out of orbit. I do hope you’ll join me there!

If you’ve just landed here from The Better Mom, I want to extend a warm, spring Viennese welcome to you! Grab your cafe latte, pull up a chair and make yourself at home!

This post is part of the Time Out: Finding Balance as a Busy Mom series.

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10 People You See Everyday on Public Transport

A huge portion of the world utilizes public transport as their primary mode of transportation. After spending a few months doing just that, I have decided that there are 10 People you will see everyday, without fail, when utilizing public transport. Let me know if you’ve seen them, too.

Here we go:

1. The Prideful Regular

He knows the system inside and out – and he wants you to know he knows. He makes sure he pushes the stop button before the mechanism can even announce the next stop. See, everyone, I have the route memorized and I know my stop is next. He exits the vehicle with speed, confidence and a bit of flair. He makes sure not to even glance in the direction of the signs and rolls his eyes at those who do.

2. The Calculating Regular

He goes beyond knowing which subway line he needs and knows which seat (or standing place) near which door on which car of the subway in which to ride in order to exit said subway car the absolutely closest possible to his next destination – either the gangway to his connection or the exit above ground. If the car of his choosing is too full, he is not above waiting for the next train to come along.

10 People You See Everyday on Public Transport3. The Map Studier

This guy checks the stop map after every stop. He counts, and re-counts, how many stops he has until he disembarks. He finger traces the map at least once for good measure. If there is more than one map posted in the train, he will study them all to make sure they are the same. Despite the appearance, he is most likely a regular user of the public transport system.

4. The Just-In-Timer

“Mind the gap.” “Steigen Sie nicht mehr ein.” “Please do not board.” The warning beep sounds and the doors begin to close. Cue this guy. He runs with the speed of a cheetah and just makes it through the doors milliseconds before they close – very often causing collateral damage (toppled children, spilled coffee, etc) in the process. There are two types of Just-In-Timers. The first, is the Melodramatic Just-In-Timer. He makes overly dramatic gestures of relief – releasing a big sigh, wiping fake-sweat from his brow, grabbing his knees and puffing – and chuckles happily at anyone who makes eye contact. It would seem he is pleasantly surprised at his success, but the precision with which he timed his sprint from the escalator ten yards away gives you the feeling most of his public transport entrances go similarly to this one. Perhaps he has a bit of the Calculating Regular in him. The second type is the Non-Chalant Just-In-Timer. He acts as though he wasn’t just nearly decapitated by thirty pound doors slamming shut and takes his place stoically in the crowd of passengers.

5. The Just-Misseder

Although closely related to number 4, our friend here is of the slightly less lucky variety. He gives it the good ole college try but arrives only in time to have the doors quite literally slam in his face. Here you see three types of folks. You have the Laid-Back Just-Misseder. This fellow laughs it off, shakes his head and perhaps even gives a plucky shoulder shrug to the onlookers who did make it into the train as they pull away. Then you have the Angry Just-Misseder. He slaps the closed doors, yells some sort of angry yawp – often with profanity. Angry gestures at the passengers inside ensue, as though they shared some blame in him missing out. Then comes the outburst towards the ever-”inconsiderate” driver/conductor – all to no avail. Finally we see the Just-Kidding Just-Misseder. This unfortunate friend also runs full speed towards closing doors only to find them closed up tight upon arrival. However rather than laughing it off  or getting angry, he just pretends he wasn’t in fact trying to board. It is the public transport version of patting your pockets as though you’ve forgotten something when you realize you’re walking in the wrong direction. All three types are left with the agonizing 2 minute wait for the next train or bus with only their question of What did I do wrong? to keep them company.

6. The Tourist Family

What did they just say? I think we’re on the wrong train! No, I told you this is the right one. We want the red line, right? No, I said we didn’t want the red line. Wait, what did that announcement just say? Is this the last stop? What? We have to get off? Wait, I’m confused….

This poor family just wants to see the Opera House. Or Big Ben. Or the Colosseum. But somewhere their public transport compass has gotten skewed. They battling jet lag, language barriers, culture shock and at any moment you just know they are going to completely lose their minds. This family often comes with exaggerated hand gestures, overly slowed speech, and if American a general volume increase of roughly 30 decibels.

7. The Sleeper

This dude has either spent the night out partying, pulled an all-nighter study binge or is coming off an Energy Drink high. Whatever the cause, he’s sacked out. Everyone else in the train is placing bets on when he will wake up, and if it will be the right stop. You actually get bonus-points if you get to see them wake-up…most times your own stop comes up before you get to see the conclusion to his story.

8. The Kids Fighting Over the Button

Never mind that these kids actually live here and take public transport every.single.day., multiple times a day. They are still going to fight over who gets to push the Stop button. Every. Single. Time. You also can find these creatures in the elevator. The Prideful Regular takes great joy in swooping in to push the button just as the child who has won said fight reaches his grubby little finger out to do it.

9. The Jungle Gym-ers (AKA The Parents Who Are Too Tired to Mind Their Kids)

You’ve seen them. These are the kids doing amateur Parkour in the train car, swinging from handle to handle like monkey bar rings, and spinning around the handle pole like it was a playground apparatus. The parents can often be seen slumped in a corner seat, hair matted, dirt smudged on their faces just trying to maintain composure until they reach their destination. Very often these families start out as number 6 but but the end of the week transform into this.

10. The Loud Music Guy

It doesn’t matter if he’s listening to Marilyn Manson, Pearl Jam, ABBA or Mozart this guy loves his music – and wants you to love it, too. Even though he’s wearing headphones, you can hear this dude’s tunes from the other end of the train car/bus. Often times he is completely stoic, not even a head bob or foot tap. However every now and then, the rhythm gets him and he forgets that others can hear him and he serenades the whole car. Its a treat for the whole family, I tell ya.

So there you have it, the 10 People You Meet Everyday on Public Transport. Have you met these guys? Who else do you see everyday on the bus, subway or street tram? Oh, and by the way, if you’re any sort of regular public transport user, you – like me – have been every single one of these people.

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