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Last week, I completed the first of what will be many levels in my journey to learning German. For now, its beginning is officially over. This fall, I’ll move on to the second level in the A series.
Because I intend to continue. But not only because of how difficult learning another language, let alone German, is; mostly because taking on the role of student, again, has been a wonderful addition in my life. As anxious as I was on that first night, these last 6 weeks, although intensive, have simply put, brought me joy.
The joy of learning. Intentionally. Not because I have to, like I did both at Arizona State and George Washington University. Because I want to. Besides the knowledge that has been enjoyable to acquire in my consulting career, I can’t think of any other time in my life when I actually chose to learn something new, and difficult. The joy of exercising my choice.
And a good choice I made in the Geothe-Institut. Sure, there are more affordable ways to learn German. And for a Virginia suburban girl like me, there are easier places to get to than the center of Washington, DC. But I made the choice to go all out and attend the best German language school, also a German cultural center. And, their staff delivered on my high expectations. Under Lehrer Eddie’s leadership and in the company of 9 other students, I felt safe, encouraged and supported. The process of learning German, in an immersive fashion by integrating listening, reading, writing and speaking the foreign language, a joy.
Also a joy to experience other emotions first-hand: the humility that comes with not knowing something, at all; the excitement of recognizing something I learned in class on my Twitter or LinkedIn feeds; the frustration of making mistakes, a lot of them; the determination to get it right; the exhaustion from the demands learning another language puts on our cognitive load; the exasperation from constantly translating in my head to both English and French for context; and the delight of the realization that I am catching on and making baby progress.
But the most important practice I get to continue to discover is this curiosity mindset that is omni-present in me. I see it in action, I feel its effect on me and I am aware that it is helping me grow, like it always has. I remind myself that it always brought me joy.
In a month, I will be headed back to Munich, where some almost three years ago, this German love affair began. I am curious to see how I experience my favorite city and its wonderful people with ein bisschen Deutsch.
To be continued.