Yesterday was finally my first day at my “new” job. Luckily I’d already met most (if not all) of the people at some point or other, and my job is the same, so it was not quite as nerve wrecking as it could have been – but still scary enough. I’d been to the office twice before, both time as a visitor (i.e. someone who needed to be looked after). This time around I am just one of them, business is as usual, and I have to try to slot in.
Another thing changed: when I arrived at the office a few people were speaking Swedish to me by default, a couple of people asked whether they could switch to Swedish with me (yes), and one person asked if I wanted them to speak English (no). So Swedish it is from now on.
By the middle of the day I realised that this may have been a slightly masochistic move of me. People ask me work questions, and I have to (1) understand them, (2) discuss the issues with them. Point (2) turns out to be a lot more difficult, as I still haven’t had an enormous amout of Swedish practice after four days (practice so far has been limited to “a large coffee please”), and the correct words and correct grammar tended to come into my head approximately 30 seconds after they needed to be in my head. Even going to lunch with some of my new workmates turned out to be taxing, as the damn Swedish words and grammar just wouldn’t. come. into. my. head. (Plus everyone started talking about how difficult it is to find a flat over here, which didn’t exactly make me feel less panicked!)
By the afternoon I couldn’t possibly have been more frustrated. It’d been so long since I moved to London and experienced the same tongue twisting experience with the English language, I’d forgotten just how frustrating it really is!
People though so far are really friendly and patient. They realise that it’s not easy for me, and don’t mind explaining things twice before I understand them. (And they don’t mind waiting for my answer either.) I am glad that people don’t switch back to English, even if I have some trouble right now. My theory is that if I do it this way (jumping in at the deep end and powering through until my brain catches up with my speaking) it’ll be more painful in the beginning, but I’ll learn more and learn faster. No pain, no gain 🙂
At the end of the day, I spoke to a couple of people who I had previously worked with in London. They had both been through what I am going through now, so really understood my language frustrations. We ended up having a long chat, in Swedish, and by the end of the conversation I realised that I was spending much less time looking for words and grammar. I felt so much better after that, and it was probably the one thing I needed in order to go home and feel some hope over my language skills.
Much more brain struggling and tongue twisting to come though in the upcoming weeks, I’m sure!