4/25/2016

8 All Too Real Bilingual Struggles






In many ways I consider myself lucky to call two countries my home. I have a strong sense of self and patriotism towards both of my home countries and love each one in different ways. I also consider myself lucky to be able to pick up languages and understand different cultures with ease because of growing up in a situation where I was always adapting.


How ever there are the struggles of being bilingual, whether it be the weird looks you get when you say something or do something that people don't quite understand. So I made a list of all the #realbilingualproblems I have gone through and I am sure many of you will identify with.


1. Pronouncing words- Sometimes you pronounce words as they are written, it makes sense right? Why would there be an L in salmon if your not supposed to pronounce it? This has gotten me many laughs, among the top "funniest" were the words salmon, oregano, etc.


2. Stuttering- Oh my god, I cannot name how many times I have found myself angry and been venting or ranting and just started stuttering. The words just won't always flow or maybe you throw in some words that aren't English, either way it frustrates me to no end. How am I supposed to be taken seriously if I can't even get a sentence out?


3. Using metaphors that aren't used in English- I will never forget the look on K's face when I told him that there was " a dog buried in this". This is a Finnish saying for something seems off. I quickly realized what I had said made absolutely zero sense to K and he looked at me like I was crazy!


4. Bringing your lunch to school when you were little- This was literally an event at elementary school. I would bring my lunch to school of seemingly normal food to me and my friends would gather around to see what I had that day. Eventually it stopped being funny and became more and more embarrassing. I quickly told my mom I would not be bringing traditional Finnish meals to school anymore. Looking back on it now though, I was lucky to have such good and healthy food at school and sure wish someone was making me lunch everyday in my adult life!


5. Always having an accent- When you first move somewhere. Every time I have lived in America for awhile and talk to someone in Finnish I have an accent or visa versa if I have lived in Finland for a few years and come back to America, I have an accent. There just really is no time when you are winning in this category. 


6. Missing crucial years of language arts in either country- This can seriously mess up what you have learned and how far behind you are. No one thing is the same. A good example of this is my younger sibling, he missed most of his elementary school learning in Finland because we lived in America at the time, so once we finally came back to Finland he struggled talking and writing in Finnish. To this day he still has problems with it and identifies more as a English speaking person than a Finnish speaking person.


7. Never quite feeling at home- When I am in Finland, I want to live here. When I am here I want to be there. I can move anywhere and never not have my heart longing to be somewhere else. It took many years for me to realize that the closest I am going to get to feeling at home is not a location, but a person. Wherever K is, that's where I need to be.


8. Having different views on things- Everyone has their own opinions and they won't always match yours, that's just life. The thing I seemed to run into more is how open minded Finland was compared to America in some things and obviously my political views were greatly swayed by how I was raised. This has lead to more than one very heated conversation. But as the years have gone by, I've realized that everyone is entitled to their opinion and if your opinion isn't something that can be shared without argument, then it shouldn't be shared at all. Of course this does not apply to a goodhearted old debate!



Are there any struggles you have gone through as a bilingual, bi-cultural person?

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