You are beautiful, but not speaking your language is proving to be an issue
Throughout my years of living and studying in Sydney, at an international college, I met countless people from countless countries who spoke all kinds of languages. And I’m here in Switzerland this week – reunited and now surrounded by some of my dearest friends – because of the beautiful friendships I made with those people.
And to all those people that I knew, that I befriended, that I lead and worked alongside who had come from afar, I feel like I should apologise. You see, being here in a country where I hardly understand the language, I have come to understand how isolating it can feel.
In college we all do our best to accommodate to these International student’s cultural needs. And everyone at the college does their personal best to make international students feel welcome and to settle in. But now, as I walk around a city I don’t know, order coffee in a language I barely know how to speak and try to find my way around, I understand how difficult it must be to move your life to a country that is so different from your own.
This is only a holiday, and this is only the beginning. And I know I am lucky to be travelling in the 21st century with all the modern conveniences and technology (Google Translate is the best thing ever created, after sliced bread). But its lonely, to walk the streets and only here a handful of words you actually understand. To need help finding your way, only to be met with blank stares when you ask.
I have a new understanding and respect for ESL students. Or anyone who moves to a country with another language. They pack they’re lives up into a couple of suitcases, leave everyone they know, move around the world, often learning the language as they go.
Sure I moved to be at college too, but I didn’t have to learn a new way of life.
Switzerland is one of the most breath-taking places I have ever visited. And I cannot wait to see more of it. Even to return one day, maybe after studying French. And now I’m surrounded by my old friends, ready to celebrate the wedding of two of our best friends and old house mates (all thanks to College and God, for bringing us together). And it’s not easy to navigate but I’ll not let it get in the way of me enjoying this trip. I am not going to take this for granted.
But all the same…It’s confronting and mentally tiring. It’s unnerving and disheartening. To be lost. In Translation.