Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The German Headache

If you have ever tried to work in a foreign language for any extended period of time, then you'll know all about what I experienced today--a phenomenon I've deemed "the German headache". When you've got it bad, it basically feels like your head is going to explode.

It's one thing to listen to or read another language for pleasure or in a class. But when you are surrounded by locals in an office and are expected to be contributing on the same working level that they are, but without the fluent language skills they have, the headache no doubt comes on because this task is almost impossible--especially when the conversation often changes between the high German I've been learning and the Swiss German I still can't for the life of me comprehend.

To be fair to myself, I have noticed that my German headaches take longer to come on at work than they used to. I can go for over an hour of concentrated German discussions at work before the headache sets in. My listening comprehension has skyrocketed in the last few months, but unfortunately, my speaking has dug itself a very deep hole and does not want to come out, except of course, in English.

Today I did really well and the headache didn't really set in bad until about 7 pm. But unfortunately, around that time, we began an intense almost 2 hour discussion of marketing ideas. Needless to say, by the end, I was as burnt out as I've ever been. I don't think tired can even describe it. It's part of an "expat tired" that can only be experienced by living overseas.

So on that note, it's time for bed.


Michelle Glauser said...

I know what you mean. Concentrating so hard all day can really tire you out. I remember having to get a lot of sleep before Sundays so I could understand all three hours.

Chantal said...

Glad someone can relate. After a week of intense German at work, I am looking forward to the weekend!

Eclectic Bride-Wife-Mom said...

I can understand that. I sometimes think that I went through the reverse of that when I was a little girl. I spoke a mix of Gujarati and English at home....thank goodness for Sesame Street! Maybe German children's program will ease your headache? Not because of the simplicity, but just for the fun? Anyways, nice to find your blog. It will be nice to follow your adventures!

Chantal said...

I admire anyone growing up in a multi-lingual household. It must be confusing but at least it's easier to learn languages as a child. Television is a great way to learn a language because there's no pressure like there is at work or in a classroom. I should do it more!


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