August 21, 2009 § Leave a comment
It has been quite a while since I last made the time to sit down and reflect on my experiences through writing. I regret that I’ve neglected writing because of all the memories and experiences I now have no account of. However, time forgives all and they always say, “better late than never”.
I don’t even know where to begin. My conscious floods with memories as I sit here pondering which select few to materialize. I’ve experienced so much in these last few months, enough to fill a lifetime it seems. I’ve grown into an entirely new person, one capable of things I never knew I was capable of before. I’m more humble and aware, more comfortable with change, more aggressive with knowledge and quick to learn. I’ve been successful in creating a life here. There are obviously miles and miles of more lessons to learn and experiences to have but I’m finally soothed by a sense of control, a sense of purpose and belonging. I see the world through a different set of eyes and have opened my mind to this new perspective.
The greatest thing about living in a new country is the feeling of progress. The smallest actions throughout the day, the tiniest thoughts and expressions are all linked to some memory of what they used to be before. I remember the first cup of coffee I purchased here in Norway. It was at a small coffee shop on the corner of my street and I was waiting to meet my new landlord. I’d fumbled so much with the order that I eventually gave up and admitted linguistic defeat. It turned out that the barista was actually a fellow Californian from San Diego and that he had only asked me if I wanted my coffee to go. When I returned to the coffee shop this past week, I submitted myself to the same action as before yet carried it out flawlessly. It was only a cup of coffee but it represented true progress. I’d encountered a challenge I’d previously failed and emerged victorious.
Language is culture. Language is life. Without means to communicate there is no way to function. When you are purchasing something, traveling somewhere, enlisting any sort of service, simply going about your normal life, you absolutely require a way to communicate. When this ability is taken away from you, you begin to doubt everything. You get confused by the smallest details and frustrated when you are alerted to their simplicity. You struggle endlessly to continue on the way you always have, the only way you really know. And everything seems the same, but that’s all an illusion: yes that looks like milk but it’s actually some yogurt-milk hybrid and you can eat it with cereal. Moving to a new country requires that you completely alter your understanding of social constructs. Life here in this new place has the same elements of your last life but the meanings associated with them are different. People still eat, breathe, work and socialize but the way they do these things is different. You sit back and watch everything around you, analyzing, cataloging, associating, preparing your mind to recognize this new world as it’s own.