Dramaticized Reality

I am a very reliable person in that I will always think I can totally handle something, push it out of my mind, and only when thinking about whatever it is that's supposedly not a big deal do I realize that it is indeed a life-changing thing and I begin to hyperventilate, which is actually quite funny to watch as I pretend to be nonchalant as I bolt to the nearest bathroom to splash cold water on my face in hopes of reviving what little dignity I have left.  Which is usually none.  Knowing full well that this very June I will be boarding a plane to go across the Atlantic to a certain country for an entire year, I really didn't understand why my mother's alarming friends thought what I had decided to do was so awe-inspiring and independent.  I thought that spending a year learning German for attending school in Switzerland wouldn't be a big deal, and having my major at that school be Spanish was a natural choice.  Sometimes I wonder what my parents fed me as a small child.  Finally, the fog around my head has lifted and I noticed that hey, it's kind of difficult to learn two languages at the same time.  I mean, I've already taken Spanish for three years, but German is a new thing, and my school doesn't offer classes so I had to find a tutor.  Next semester I'm taking a German college class in a desperate attempt to be fluent by summer.  It's not that I don't get the language, since my family is brimming with heritage and I can trace one line of my family back to the 14th century or something.  My pronounciation is apparently fabulous.  But it's the grammar...all the extras that English doesn't have, that keeps me nailed to the ground with a throbbing headache and stolen shoes.  I feel like such a lazy American, flirting with the idea of trilinguality, but not giving it all the effort it takes.  It's hard to apply myself so that it's possible for me to spend a year with my grandparents in their tiny apartment in a city I love but have no idea how to function in without the huge tourist-eyes and nearby parent.  I am in love with my ancestors' country, but the one time I was alone in a train station I got that jello-leg sensation that one often gets when they're four years old and lost in a department store. (Luckily every educated person in Europe knows about 15 languages so it wasn't hard to scout out an English-speaker to aid me.) 

 And as much as I despise sharing a house with certain members of my family, it's going to be like getting a tooth pulled every day being away from them.  Their nagging and misunderstanding is a comfort.  I also have to leave behind the cat I've had since I was two, which I know doesn't sound that big, but I don't know how much longer he's going to live and I'm the only real cat person in my family, so I don't know how well he'll be treated.  While most kids were fawning over stuffed animals to help them fall into their dreams, I shoved mine off the bed and hunted around the silent house in a very chalant, three-year-old manner for my cat.  He's old now and whines for no particular reason, but it doesn't bother me much. 

But I suppose I'm just facing what most people experience in going off to college a few years early.  I'm going to be abroad my junior year, but my dad said that graduating from an American school is important, so I can't stay another year.  I'll probably want to by then.  I've never been homesick when I've gone on visits, and I always get extremely pissed off when I return home.  The smell of the stairwell in my grandparent's apartment building has been etched into my brain since I was a few months old.  The air of Switzerland is different than America's, more full and swollen.  I miss it like I do friends when they go off on vacation for a month.  I really don't understand why my parents decided to start a family in a tiny town full of people that believed that because I had no specific religion, my father had to come into my 2nd grade class and talk to my peers about it, than in Europe.  I still remember the day my father did that, seeing him walk through the doors to the gym, where my class was thwaking sporting equipment around, in a buisness suit and wearing that smirking scorpio-swiss-boy smile he's never been able to shake.                   



jocelynp said:

I am so jealous of the opportunity you have, to go and live in Europe for a year, but I understand how scary it is--I'm leaving, on my own, with no specific plans and however much money I can save by then, for one year after I graduate high school. It's more than a little terrifying, but it's also really exciting.

The thing you said about having to graduate from an American school--I'd never heard that. I think the general international consensus is that American high schools suck (compared to most European and Asian countries), but that American universities are better (with, of course, a few exceptions...Like, I don't think anyone would complain if you went to Oxford). In all honesty, I think that you end up with about the same education level, but foreign students learn more in high school and we learn more after it.

December 23, 2007 5:11 PM

zulayr said:

whoa. lucky you. it's a REALLY exciting experience, but at the same time, i understand why you're nervous. Knowing three languages sounds cool, though. Wish you the best on your awesome year abroad!

December 24, 2007 6:53 AM

jordynt said:

I would be scared living in another country for a year.

Well. It's not really that part that scares me. It's that I'd be leaving my parents and sister and I'm just not ready to face that yet.

But go you!

December 25, 2007 6:01 PM