I just moved to Berlin and started DuoLingo. I can't wait to finish the German tree! Wish me Luck!
Welcome to Duolingo! Enjoy your adventure, make memories and friends. I have lived in far corners of the world and count those experiences among the great blessings of my life! In reference to the comment that was made about Culture Shock, the adjustment process is ultimately no different than any other life change or even new personal relationship. After reading the linked article, I will admit that I still experience Reverse Culture Shock, years on. But, oh how it was all worth it! In honor of those ever restless souls among us, enjoy the words of the wandering poet Robert Service:
The Men That Don't Fit In
There's a race of men that don't fit in, A race that can't stay still; So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will. They range the field and they rove the flood, And they climb the mountain's crest; Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood, And they don't know how to rest.
If they just went straight they might go far; They are strong and brave and true; But they're always tired of the things that are, And they want the strange and new. They say: "Could I find my proper groove, What a deep mark I would make!" So they chop and change, and each fresh move Is only a fresh mistake.
And each forgets, as he strips and runs With a brilliant, fitful pace, It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones Who win in the lifelong race. And each forgets that his youth has fled, Forgets that his prime is past, Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead, In the glare of the truth at last.
He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance; He has just done things by half. Life's been a jolly good joke on him, And now is the time to laugh. Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost; He was never meant to win; He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone; He's a man who won't fit in.
The experience varies a lot. Not everyone who goes abroad does so out of choice, and those who do have an easier time. It's also a question of compatibility: I found moving to Sweden much easier than moving to France, mostly because I fit in much better. In fact, after 20 months in Sweden, it's still mostly honeymoon :)
I found French very hard, partly because I found native speakers to be often critical and sometimes downright judgmental when I made mistakes.
Swedish is easier to learn, but harder to practice -- Swedes tend to be eager to switch to English when they notice you struggling. It makes it easier to get one's life organized, but one just doesn't get as much opportunity to practice. Also, my workplace is mostly anglophone. But thanks to Duolingo and also Babbel.com I'm making reasonable progress now.
I know from German friends that the Swiss culture can be a tough one to integrate into. Good luck with your culture shock, too :)
It's funny how English cuts both ways. You are glad to have it, but it also can make it harder because everyone speaks it with you and you are trying not to use it. It has a strange power to it when you are native speaker of it. It is certainly the language I prefer to assert/protect/advocate for myself in - I think that will never change.
Not sure I'll really be able to "integrate," just live here. I am having that immigrant denial experience - I keep thinking I'm going back and this is only temporary. In reality, I simply can't know how it'll all turn out or how long it will last. It could be anywhere from a day to the rest of my life. I wonder at times what I'll do with all this German if I ever go back and have absolutely no use for it in the US. ;)
At least I am surrounded by incredible beauty and calm here. I miss the affordable food/dining out experiences in the US, but at least restaurant workers aren't being exploited. Does this put me in the "Adjustment Phase"? ;)
Thanks very much! Good luck with yours as well! :)
Berlin ist eine Reise wert! That was a slogan to promote tourism to Berlin from the west back in the day I lived there, as an exchange student, in 1978! It was an like an island in the sea, and not easy to access, especially if you were a poor student! Have fun! Duolingo is an awesome language-learning place!