This post comes much much later than I would have liked! The reason for this is a problem with wordpress, which I now realise must be to do with my ISP, since I am visiting relatives and am having no trouble accessing wordpress here. I can only express my frustration that I have been waiting WEEKS to be able to access the site, and still am not able to do so at home. I am considering just shifting my content across to blogspot, but, as will be made clear in the content of this blog post, I will be moving soon, so hopefully I will not encounter this problem in my new place. I know I do not have a massive readership at the moment (a girl can dream!) but it has been annoying to disappoint the few readers I do have by not posting anything for ages. I do feel slightly justified in employing the excuse: NOT MY FAULT! Ok, rant over. Time for a blog post.
I am a language student. And I absolutely love languages. I adore finding the surprising similarities and the little quirky differences between the different languages I learn, and I relish the little look of admiration I get from my not-so-linguistically-minded friend as I communicate with her Austrian friend in pretty-decent German.
The only trouble is, learning languages involves going abroad. Well, it does if you want to get to any sort of decent level. And it can’t just be for a week in the Alps. Spending a whole year (at least 9 months, anyway) living in a foreign country is a compulsory part of any language degree in the UK, and it is on this year abroad that I am about to embark.
Now, for many people, I don’t suppose this would be such a massive step. But for me it is! Throughout my childhood, I have holidayed in Cornwall, and have only been on a plane about six times in my life. Besides, I like England; I like drinking tea (with milk in) and going on double-decker buses, and posting letters in bright red postboxes.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that British culture trumps all others. But it’s mine, and it’s what I know. I am a wimp when it comes to stuff like this. I like to stay within my comfort zone. But the prospect of spending a year away from my home has made me acknowledge its importance in my life, and its significance in forming a part of my identity. It’s got me thinking:Who are we when we are far away from what defines us?
I’m talking about when we are far from people who know us, when we’re far away from places we know and cultures with which we are familiar, when we’re in a place where getting to know people – showing them our chosen definition of ourselves – is restricted or distorted by language barriers.
Who are we then? How do we find a constant in a world where anything can change?
For me, the answer is relying on God. The God that I believe in never changes, and never will change. He has known me since before the beginning of the universe, and to Him, no matter where I am in the world, I will always be His daughter. In practice, however, it can be hard to remember this when faced with uncertainty, and it’s hard not to allow yourself to be shaken when every earthly thing you use to define yourself is shifting all around you.
I guess I don’t have a perfect answer. I’ll just have to keep working on it…
Here’s to a scary year!