Journeys in Upheaval – In with the New

Today finds me writing a blog post much later than I would have liked (yet again). As I mentioned in my previous post, I have moved abroad as part of my language degree, and am currently residing in the small town of Lemgo, Germany. While this is certainly a convenient, and in parts true, reason for my silence, there are definitely other factors involved.

I started a separate blog, following a request from my sister, to document my experiences and keep everyone at home up to date with what I’ve been doing. (If you’re interested, you can find it here at http://yearabroadfuntimes.blogspot.de/ ) However, posting on this blog, along with another writing commitment and a teaching job, has been taking up a lot of writing head-space. Not only that, but I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to write a simple description of what I’ve been doing than it is to delve a bit deeper. The purpose of the other blog is just to keep people informed of where I am physically rather than emotionally, which is where these two blogs differ.

Here are some things that have changed since arriving, things that haven’t made it onto my other blog, either because they’re irrelevant to its purpose (as a means to inform rather than evaluate), or they’re simply too personal:

Writing

This is one thing that is particularly annoying me. Before I came, I had a significant writing project on the go, one that I was excited about, and was really hoping to see to completion. Since arriving, this project has hit a road-block, which I can’t seem to shift. Why have I stopped writing?* Does this mean I’m really not cut out to pursue this as my career after all? I certainly hope that’s not the case!

Language

What I’m about to say may seem strange, since I’ve spoken German for 8 years (or is it 9?) and learning the language is the whole point of coming. But it is still the absolute hardest thing about being here. Never before have I so appreciated the ability to express my thoughts without much restriction, to express my personality and desires, and to use nuance to imply my emotions. These are definitely things I took for granted before. And I just can’t do them in the same way in German. This, I’m sure, will get better with time. But for now I’m stuck…

Faith

This is a hard thing to admit. It’s always tempting to put up a front and pretend everything’s fine, so as not to discourage others. But the fact is, even the most faithful Christians have doubts, and I certainly fall far below them.  I’m in a faith-rut of my own making. I know that God’s still there, that He’s still faithful to me. But how do I get close to Him again?

So there you have it. My current biggest struggles. I must admit, they were much harder to put into writing than I’d anticipated! It’s certainly a lot easier to write about my day-to-day experiences, rather than my innermost thoughts!

Does anyone have any advice? Or anything at all that could help me? And what are you struggling with at the moment?

*I haven’t stopped altogether! I’m just making frustratingly little progress with my project. And by ‘frustratingly little progress’, I actually mean none at all! Oops.

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Journeys in Uncertainty

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!