Language Barrier

Learning a whole new language can be pretty intimidating and challenging. For some people learning a new language is not a choice, some times it can be a means for survival. Moving to a whole new country is frightining having to adapt to a new lifestyle and culture not to mention the feeling of being lost and not being able to understand basic information.

My first encounter with a new language was when I moved to the USA at 13 years of age. Although I had my rough and shaky moments with the language, it didn’t take long for me to learn it. However, as I grew older, I took for granted my new founded language and dismissed the challenges that many in the USA have with it, especially with older people. There were many people who had spent decades living in the USA and still were not able to speak English and I could grasp my mind around that.

Until now, living in Egypt for almost 2 years and my Arabic is, I will put into words of one of my students, ” You don’t speak Arabic, you speak broken”. It’s common to think that learning a new language is the only challenge that one might have. But we are totally wrong, here are some of the challenges I’ve faced from having to learn a new language.

  • You are not yourself anymore! You are not able to make a joke, have deep intellectual conversation and express your feelings.
  • You might take certain facial expression, intonation or even some misunderstood meaning offensive. Often times when people asked me to repeat what I have said, I take it personally, as i they are mocking my Arabic, don’t ask me why that is but it happens all the time.
  • It can impact yourself esteem. When, I first started learning Arabic, I was so enthusiastic and proud of myself but as time went by there was an incident, where one person was being aggressive towards me and I was not able to defend myself, leaving me to feel useless in that situation.
  • Not everyone is nice to you during your learning journey. Many people don’t understand that you are not a local and can unintentionally contribute towards your insecurity with the language.
  • You feel isolated and incarcerated. What I mean by isolation is that you might have people around you but you are not able to make a deep connection because you can’t talk about your values, mission and build a common bond.
  • Incarcerated by your thoughts not being able to be express the right way. Sometimes you want to engage in political or philosophical topics but you can’t because your vocabulary in the new language does not allow you to.
  • Some times you just feel plain stupid. Yes, you might carry even a PhD degree but in a new language you might talk like a 3-year-old.
  • If you are in a room and everyone is talking in a foreign language at some point, you will think they are talking about you making you feel uncomfortable all the time
  • It is possible to spent years in a county and not speak the language. I used to think of this as something strange but now it’s happening to me. I try as much as possible to go places where I know someone will speak English or try to avoid situations where I would have to come out of my comfortable zone.

However, these struggles don’t even compare with the enormous amount of blessings and experiences that you will have by moving to whole different country and learning a language completely out of your comfortable zone. If I could give you advice if you are in the same situation as I am, would be to open your mind and try to be as unbiased as possible with a new culture. Don’t compare your culture with another one, just take the new culture for what it is. Try to use as much as you know from the new language in your daily life to build fluency and confidence. You will gain an enormous amount of knowledge that no books or school can provide you with.

I am not writing this post to discourage you from learning a new language or even moving to a new country. The purpose of this post is to first letting you know that if you are struggling with moving to a new country or learning a new languages and do experience some of these feelings then you are not alone. Also, another reason for this post is letting you know how some people might be feeling learning a new language that we might take for granted and how they are coping with having to move to a new country. I certainly didn’t pay much attention to this phenomenon until I myself walked in these shoes.

Let me know if you are leaving in a new country completely different from your norm. If so, do you have some struggles and what are some of them? Are you learning a new language and what is it? Comment bellow if you  have some tips for learning a new language or coping with a new culture.

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A New Year 2018

Dear Me,

You know you are not one to commemorate anything and the New Years is not an exemption. However, this year was a very challenging one and lot of self-reflection and growth happened. I am finding myself deeper in my thoughts and reflecting very hard on my personal growth and barriers I had to overcome.

I am not one to make new years resolution and I am not here to write a list of what I would like to accomplish in 2018. It’s time to make goals and set time lines. To leave behind the negativity and move forward. To stop making excuses and just do the things I most fear. Mostly, I want to live in the moment, to cherish everything around, to leave a little bit of goodness every day.

This letter is not to set up expectations and looking to fulfill them in a time span. It is not to accomplish all my dreams, goals, obstacles and fears in a the year to come. Rather, it is a time to pause and reflect on how far I reached within a year. To look at my blessings and downfalls.

Most importantly, when you look back remember there is no such thing as “failure”. When you wake up every day and try again and didn’t succeed, you didn’t fail. When you try new things and it did not go as planned, you didn’t fail. When life takes its own course instead of yours, you didn’t fail. What’s more important is what you learned from all that God had planned for you.

Now, read this post and reflect all the personal growth and blessings that have occurred within a year and don’t worry about what people think you should be doing or where you should be.

Don’t be delusional, don’t fall into trend, there is no such thing as happiness. There is however, a sense of peace knowing that you will embrace whatever comes or does not come your way. Not only embrace, face it, conquer it and gain the most expensive gift in life, “patience”.

Look at your daughters and see how much they have grown, hug them and tell them you “love them”. Pray for all the blessings that God has bestowed. If you cried a lot, it is time to smile. If you smiled a lot, it is time to help others who have cried. If you have gained, it is time to give. If you have lost, it is time to accept. If you loved than love even harder. Know that all your prayers are not answer in this life. Ameen.

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Ramadan Series-Day 21

Ramadan is over but here is a post I wrote right when my computer crashed again.

I’ve been trying to be more self-conscious of what I put in and on my body and for that reason, I had to make some adaptable changes in my daily routine. Here are some things I’ve stopped using or eating;

  1. Shampoo and conditioner I can’t believe this one actually works! I recently discovered that you can use baking soda and apple vinegar for shampoo substitute. In addition to that our hair does not need conditioner. In my recent trip to Cape Verde a couple of months ago my family bluntly told me, how disgusting my hair looked. I didn’t know what was causing my hair to look so bland and dull. I have to tell you that this replacement is the best think. I immediately seen a difference in both my kid’s hair and I.
  2. Cleaning products I’ve stopped buying cleaning products for the obvious reasons, for their harmful chemicals. This one, I am dearly thankful to my mother who thought me that I can use apple cider vinegar to clean my entire home. Apple cider vinegar is a staple in my pantry, I used it for cleaning, drinking, seasoning, facial and hair uses and much more. My runs to the grocery story evolves on whether or not I need to restock this magical liquid.
  3. Skin and hair moisturizer– I no longer buy store products to moisturize my hair or skin. I simply make a fuze of coconut, almond and a bit of castor oil and use it every day on my skin and hair.
  4. Sunscreen- Almond oil is a natural replacement for chemical sunblock. In addition to that staying out of the sun for a long time and covering the skin that can easily get sunburn such as shoulder, nose and backs..
  5. Junk foodEgypt is notorious for their junk food options. You can see people of all ages munching one chips, chocolate and fry food for breakfast. I admit that I have not stopped my kids for occasionally enjoying some ice cream, chocolate and cookies. However, I don’t bring these things to my house. Often time, the kids enjoy these treats when they are surrounded by other kids who are eating the junk food or when a family member/friend offers my kids these treats.
  6. Product based facial and hair masks– There is absolutely no need to go out and buy facial masks that are filled with chemicals and just dry out the skin. You can just go to your refrigerator and you will find some many options for a home-made mask. From eggs, to yogurt, honey, fruits, sugar, baking soda and much more. You know that half banana that your kid left behind, well you can smash it and use it as a face mask as it is. Or the yogurt your kid did not finish and make my favor mask; yogurt, turmeric spices, lemon or apple cider vinegar and honey(optional) and place in on my face and neck. You can leave this mask for up to an hour, it will drastically give you a glow and remove your pores. For dry scalp and dandruff, I like to use turmeric spices, olive oil or almond oil as a mask before washing my hair. Immediately after washing you will notice that your hair feels lighter, brighter and with more volume.

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