Panic! By Elena Brogi.

Elena Brogi

Elena Brogi is a Counselling Psychologist/Psychotherapist from Italy. She has been in London since June 2014. Her goal is to be able to work with British clients.

As part of The Writing Project Elena has shared this story . . .


By Elena Brogi.


I moved to London last June to join my husband. To be honest, it was a hassle for me to be here as it meant leaving my job in Italy and I had to start from scratch.

Therefore, I wasn’t really motivated to learn. And motivation is everything to me! I mean, I’ve always enjoyed learning new languages but, probably, it’s not my cup of tea. Poor memory and bad hearing sometimes make it difficult to improve fast. And not knowing exactly why I am doing something somehow slows me down. I felt stuck.

I could speak (stammering all the time… yep, I am a perfectionist, did I say that before?), I could read but I couldn’t understand a word of what people were saying to me.

One day I was at home, in the afternoon. Picture the scene. The bell rings, I open the door (why, oh, why did I do that?!?). There is a man in front of me, trying desperately to tell me something about a charity, animals, dogs…but what exactly? I go red, I am embarrassed, I feel knocked down. I am defeated. I surrender and say to the man: “My husband is not here, please come back later”.

I panicked: At that moment I decided that I needed to speak, I needed to understand!

But I had only lost one battle, not the war! Since then, I have listened to the radio, watched trashy programs on TV (fake people speaking real English) and TV series set in different parts of the world to get used to different accents – American, Scottish etc – and used the subtitles to learn new vocabulary and idioms. I also have volunteered once a week in a charity where most of the people are from Africa.

What can I say? Now English is not Greek any more!

I still have a problem, common among some foreigners: both my husband and my clients are Italian. It’s not easy to find ways to communicate with others in English, apart from a conversation group, where you can practice, make some new friends and share your experience with them – it helps a lot.