Yes, we have talked about how to make friends and the importance of the Au Pair clique, but there is another topic that we really haven’t thoroughly gone through. Friends who speak the same language as you.
Shriek!! I got chills just typing that.
There is a comfort talking to someone from the country you are from. They understand you, know slang that others may not pick up and just understand the culture shock that you are going through. However, there is also a huge danger lurking in comfort.
Cultural immersion is the act of becoming one with a community, interacting with the locals and understanding their daily lives and language. This import factor of living abroad slowly fades away once you are only surrounding yourself with friends from your home country and worse, who speak the same language as you.
When learning another language, taking in any other language besides the language you are learning can set you back. I’ve known girls who were getting ready to take their English tests, went home for a month, and completely destroyed all they had worked towards and had to start from scratch.
Other than talking to your family at home, you should be taking in your target language at all times. Group chats, drinking sessions, weekend outings, all utilizing new vocabulary words and phrases you learned.
By no means am I saying you can’t be friends with those who speak the same language as you, but be the instigator. When they try talking to you in your native tongue, only answer them in the local language. If you get a text or a voicemail from them explaining their day, text back with the excellent grammar you just picked up from the last language lesson you had. Make it known that no other way of communication is acceptable.
It is hard to be the enforcer and make sure that your friends stick to the new language, but it is worth it in the end. You will have spent your time in a new country, with a new language and gaining helpful hints and picking up dialects that you could never absorb in a classroom. Don’t miss this opportunity.
Learning another language is possible and way easier when you are culturally immersed. Make sure to text, read, think, speak and even drink in the language you are learning. It may be tough and hard work in the beginning but, promento que no vas a lamenarlo! (promise you won’t regret it!)