Monday, March 13, 2006

Gotta get learning



I have to arrange Hungarian lessons this week. Recently Dora rightfully pointed out that I have been here for nearly two years without putting in the appropriate language-learning effort. Although today I was able to ask a woman at the flower shop, “Do you have potting soil?” I think knowing how to ask for potting soil shows a certain degree of…

Okay, it’s a stretch. I’ve been putting off the Hungarian lessons for a while now. I stopped making excuses some time last fall. The truth of the matter is; I’m not looking forward to the baby steps of elementary language lessons. I don’t care if my teacher is Anne Sullivan, I’ve always struggled with learning languages, and Hungarian ranks up there as one of the toughest languages to learn.

Nevertheless, I’m a dumbass if I don’t make an effort. My life over here will be made much easier if I learn the language.

This is not so much because of the day-to-day things. I can get by with English in most situations. I don’t like doing this, and if I can piece together a few scraps of Hungarian, I prefer a broken version of the native language to the pomposity my fluent lingua franca. Still, English does serve as a nice lingua franca, if a lingua franca is what I’m looking for. (I do like using that term)

No, it is my social life I hope to improve with Hungarian. It’s like this: Dora’s job at KPMG puts a definite extension on our time here in Hungary. I don’t know if we were planning on leaving anytime soon. I’m happy here, and so is Dora, but if her new consulting gig is going to mean anything, she needs to put a few years of work in. Now, like I said, I’m happy here, but there is something missing. I have yet to really connect with anyone over here as a good friend. I think learning Hungarian will help.

There are a lot of Americans and Brits over here who can communicate on that level so important in a friendship, and there are a lot of Hungarians with enough fluent English to maintain a quality back and forth. Language is not creating its traditional barrier in my case. No, it is not an inability to communicate. It is the feeling that I am only testing the waters, that I’m holding back.

I’m not sure if others sense it (I doubt that), but I am certainly aware of a hesitance on my part. I want Hungary to be an adventure, and it is, but it should be more. I have been reluctant to commit to this place or to any of the people I’ve met here.

Dora doesn’t count. Our life together started in another place, seems like another universe, and the commitment that comes with that has traveled here with its own importance.

So I’m here, but I think I have to start acting like that means more than just a new address.

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