Adrienn has been living in London since May 2014. She used to work as a senior accountant in Hungary. She has just started looking for a job in the financial sector here in London and she would like to work as a financial controller.
As part of The Big Fish English Writing Project Adrienn has written this article . . .
By Adrienn Árvai.
I have been living here for a year and I was totally new to the English language when I came to London. When I started learning English, it was really exciting to express myself in another language. I got to know several people from different countries and I was interested in the stories of their lives. At first I really enjoyed it, but soon afterwards I just felt that I was continuously losing myself .
First of all, if you use your own language, you have a special vocabulary that characterizes you. You might use slang, cute or fancy words and these can show your personality. If you are learning a new language, you just use the language on a basic level, to get information about something – the most important thing is that everybody knows what I want. I cannot choose which word I want to use – I just use what I know. And that is exactly why I am losing a part of my personality.
I am a smiley person.
Another problem is my face. You see, I used to be a very smiley person but I have lost it since coming to London and since I started to speak English. When I wanted to say something I was looking for the words in my mind . . . and unfortunately I have a really strange face when I am thinking about something! For this reason I looked like an unfriendly, grimacing person, the type of person you’d want to get away from as soon as you meet them!
There was a point when I found that I had to let a part of myself go. Let me explain. I am not a particularly talkative person and I do not like speaking about myself. I can get on well with almost everybody, because I love listening to people (and usually people love talking about themselves!). The point is, I am a really good listener.
However there are two really serious problems with that; First of all if I am a listener, I should understand everything, not just the gist, I have to know what the story is exactly – what they are feeling and thinking. It’s just not possible to do that with basic English. I really care about people, I want to listen to them and not just hear them. Besides, if I am a listener I have to listen to and not to speak, which is a problem when you are learning a new language. Well, when I discovered that I realised I had to change a little bit of my personality.
I am not boring and unfriendly!
Last but not least is the problem of my social life. When I meet with my husband’s colleagues I am in so much trouble because I always lose track of the conversation. While I am trying to translate a story in my mind, I end up losing the next sentence, or worse the next topic. I want to say something interesting (something special to show how interesting I am!) but how can I do this if I am always one step behind? Furthermore, maybe I am in time, but who will wait for me to build a great, professional sentence without any grammar mistakes? While I create a really great, funny sentence, the story has already moved forward.
Again, I am not myself. I feel like I am a boring, unfriendly girl – it upsets me that everybody must think I am like that.
There is always hope.
There is a proverb in Hungary which translates as “hope dies last”, and that is true, hope is always there – I joined Alex’s conversation class a couple of weeks ago. I was really nervous at first but I felt more comfortable in the second lesson and even more relaxed in the third. . . . and hope started to appear. One of my classmates said that she was surprised I could smile when I speak English! I could not believe it – somebody noticed after such a long time again I am a smiley person!
Well, I am much more relaxed nowadays when I speak English – I can smile confidently and I have some words and phrases that fit my personality – not many, but I have them. I can have a regular conversation with normal questions and I know that getting myself back is just a matter of time.