Concerning the language, I have to confess that my first two years in the US were about dealing with disillusions. Indeed, having to spend everyday talking a language that is different from yours is not easy. My first days in the US as well as the rest of my experience here contributed to break the illusions that I had about learning another language. I think I sort of underestimated the “language barrier.”
1. First, I thought (before I even came to the US) that I could speak English thanks to my few years of English studies back home. Huge mistake! The English that you learn at school (or at least in France) is definitely not the English used by Americans. What I mean is that Americans talk in a more casual way. They don’t use the same formal expressions that French students learn at school. Plus, unfortunately, in France, you learn English through reading and writing to the detriment of talking and listening. That’s why when I first came here, I could easily write in English but couldn’t understand a word when people were talking to me. That’s why during my first semester, taking notes was very tough for me.
2. My second main disillusion related to the language concerns the length I thought I would need, to be as we like to say “bilingual.” Indeed, I first thought I will be able to fully understand English after one semester which means four months. Well … I was not. Then, I though after one year I will for sure be able to. I was still not. I finally realized, with hindsight and after two years here that no matter how long I will stay here I will never be bale to understand everybody and everything. I am fortunately and obviously getting better every day though. I think the most important is that no matter what I want to say or which word I am lacking of, I always find a way to express my ideas. Being able to understand people and make them understand you is all what matters.
So for now, I can say that I understand almost everybody and can make people understand me almost every time. How will it be after two more years here? Let’s talk about it after my graduation.