An aspect of expat life I never really thought about before switching countries is firearms control.
One reason for that is the fact that I was moving to a country which has never been at war in the last two-hundred years, plus it is well-known for its neutrality, it almost never experienced political unrest, and has a low crime rate.
However, I soon learnt that those factors don’t necessarily mean strict gun control.
This is what I saw when I boarded a tram downtown on a Saturday morning.
Just an ordinary Saturday morning
Friends of mine confirmed that it’s nothing unusual. However, I was shocked.
I live in a country which features one of the most direct democracies in the world. I don’t know about you, but for me democracy is important, being it closely related to freedom, and the less it is delegated, the better.
As soon as I moved to Switzerland I was surprised to see long aluminum poles planted on grassy grounds arranged so that their bases formed a rectangle. “It’s for a new building,” I was told, “to give neighbors time to decide whether they like it to be built there or not.” That’s right, the poles represented cornerstones and height of a soon-to-be-built building, according to design plan. The neighbors had veto power on it.
However, in Switzerland ordinary people are much more involved in decisions than just vetoing buildings.
Fear and embarrassment of speaking a foreign language are quite common, therefore being able to overcome them is crucial for those who want to relocate abroad.
A reason I heard many times against moving one’s life to another country is: “I’m afraid that when I’m speaking a foreign language I’d make a fool of myself”.
An aspect that really got me surprised is that I also heard this argument from people who were really skilled in the language spoken in the country they dreamed of moving to.
In other words, just not being able to speak the language as good as a native speaker, although still very well, prevents some from moving abroad at all, including those who’d like to.
One could think that culture shock has mainly to do with facing an alien culture, a different climate, and distance from family and life-long friends. However, this is not always the case.
I found that this kind of concerns often hit people more after they have moved than before.
But being afraid of not being good enough with local language always comes before moving.
I am not writing all of this because I’m preaching that people should emigrate. I do that since there are many who really want to seek a better or new life abroad, and can’t do that due to their fear of not being able to speak another language properly.
We are not all the same and although I’m not personally particularly worried about situations described above, those who are have my sympathy and I want to tell them: if you have a dream of moving abroad, whatever is the reason, if you feel that it would be right to give a boost to your life by emigrating, then do something to overcome your fears. You’ve got only one life.
I’ll show you here what you can do in order to overcome your fear of speaking another language.
If you’re not a native English speaker, many will tell you how important it is for you to understand and speak English. How little you can do if you master only your own language, which, while spoken by [put how many million speakers you like here] will turn completely useless as soon as you cross the border. That if you want to work abroad, without English you’ll never stand a chance for international jobs.
All of that is definitely true. Together with Spanish, English is the 2nd most spoken language in the world as a native language (after Chinese), and the most widely spoken if we include non-native speakers. It is the Lingua Franca of modern times.
So, I speak English quite well. Do I need to learn another language?
Well, it depends on the country you’re going to, and on how long you plan to stay.
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