Sometimes I find myself making more excuses not to do something, than to do it. It’s all unconscious, of course… worry, self-doubt, fear and/or anxiety. I usually start with “WHAT IF” and end with either, “…I’m not enough” or “…I can’t.”
This is a common problem we all go through this at some point, and more often than we think. We create unnecessary obstacles between ourselves and our dreams. We undo ourselves with negative self-images and by not feeling we are “enough”. In the worst case scenario, we end up exaggerating that negative self-image to the point we build impossibility into our goal.
And yet, we see another person with the same goal, simply walk on through, with no issue, no strife and sometimes, much less experience… How can this be?
Well, these are two different people with different ways of seeing the situation. The first person sees limitation in themselves; while the other, sees only the goal and their desire to get it.
Which person are you?
Today’s post comes from a video response to a Travel Q & A from 18 year old Rayen…
18 year old Rayen has a longtime dream to live in and travel Japan. He’s learning Japanese but is worried that it may not be enough to get him around. Here’s what I have to say concerning his question
Note: the video and written post do not have the same information.
If you’re not seeing this video, click here
Do you need to learn the language of the country before moving there?
No. You don’t have to learn the language at all. Okay, I know that sounds culturally ignorant to say. But…
Creating obstacles where there aren’t any
I personally, think everyone should learn the language of where they live. But if you’re talking about holding off a long-time dream because you worry you don’t know the language well enough, then I don’t see that as a strong reason to put off plans. I see it as creating an obstacle for your dream, where there is none. (We all do this)
Many times we try to be perfect. We try to have all our bases covered before we make the jump. But it’s not necessary. Travelers and expats go to Japan on a daily basis, with no knowledge of the Japanese language. They’re convinced they’ll do what they can to survive the language barrier. They don’t see a language barrier as a big enough barrier to keep them from their dreams.
Also, everyone has personal goals, priorities and what they want to get out of their experience in a country. For instance, when I was living in Korea, I met expats from around the world, who had no desire to learn the Korean language, despite the fact they were hoping to live there two or more years. Shocking, right? Like the analogy I made in my last video of “datable vs marriageable countries”… some expats have planned in their heads, a short-termed marriage. So they don’t feel learning a new language will be beneficial to their future in the long run. Why would you spend your time learning Swahili if you were only going to need it for two years and never use it again?
Watch: How to decide where to live abroad?
There will always be language barriers and culture shock.
Keep in mind, where ever you go, whether you’ve learned the language or are practicing it, you’re still going to encounter moments of vulnerability and helplessness, because the culture is different. There are always going to be words you don’t know and situations you never prepared for. We think we’ll try to be cool… it doesn’t happen! Awkward and dopey is how it feels at best. So have fun with it! Most think language barriers are stressful. Yeah, they can be. I have posts about my crisis with language barriers and culture shock. I was dramatic! Now looking back on it, it was mostly drama. Nothing was impossible for me and if you can feel playful with it and laugh at yourself, you’ll find it brings you closer to locals. They know we’re foreign. These battle scars are the things I feel most proud of now. I feel closer to the country than those who just travel it, because I lived it.
The Secret to Unblocking Language Barriers
If you go to a foreign without having any earlier experience with its language, you’re going to do whatever it takes to communicate and get your idea across. Especially, if it’s vital.
1. You’re going to mime, draw pictures, point at things… (this is how I got my Korean mobile plan! I don’t recommend it for this situation, by the way)
2. Travel survival phrasebook (I bought a Korean phrasebook to help me get by)
3. Master the four golden phrases (these are handy in any country):
— Thank you
— Where is it?
— How much is it?
Learning the language of the country will enhance your experience of the country
Of course, having mastery of the language is ideal. It’s only going to enhance your experience of the country and make your stay more comfortable and enriching. You’ll have an easy time getting around, reading menus, conversing and bonding with locals, you’ll be able to figure out if you’re buying ‘shampoo’ or ‘conditioner’.
Why you shouldn’t worry about language inadequacy?
Keep in mind, even though you haven’t mastered the language yet, you will be immersed in the culture. You’ll probably learn more effectively, because you’ll be using the language on a daily basis and for essential things. Survival has a way of pushing your learning in an accelerated way. You’ll also pick up the Japanese language quicker in Japan, than at home. Unless you have a language partner that you’re constantly practicing with, it won’t be as good as living in the country itself and speaking to locals and being immersed in an environment ,where few people know English and you need to use Japanese for survival.
Note: Apologies also to Rayen for the mistaken name and gender. =(