The ode to non-native speakers in prose

Everyone struggles for things in life – for me it might be adjusting to a new place, for somebody else it may be spending too much time socializing and therefore having troubles with academics…but the struggle is always there. It would be worthy to start with my own story in order to give a piece of advice for those who feel pretty much the same as me.

Being selected to be a part of the college of my dreams in 2015 seemed to me like a new step in my life. I imagined such a new and never experienced before world different from the one I’d been in for 16 years, with an international community and many more things I have never heard of. Once I passed through security in Domodedovo airport in Russia, I had a feeling that I was fully prepared for the new life period. I forgot to think of what I would say was the most important thing: Language. My former school is one of the best boarding schools in Russia. We learned sciences, Russian language and literature, Russian history, Russian drama… I even learned how to use a gun and emergency medical help. And yes, we learned English. Even though I was an active participant in mixed Russian-English debates and pure lover of a proper British accent, the level of English I had when I graduated was not nearly enough. 

When my plane landed in the UK – the land where I was supposed to start a new life-  I realized that the British accent was not as understandable as I thought, the debates were not bilingual and there were just nine Russian-speaking students on campus, who all lived in different houses from me. It was such a drama.  I struggled a lot with both extracurricular and academic parts of my schooling at the beginning of my first year. I was highly interested in my subjects, however, the first few months of the year was very hard for me. I had never learned any of my subjects in English, especially the new ones I took. It was all so new and unexplored for me. I had never experienced this feeling before, a feeling of wanting so passionately to talk to people, but not being able to because of unreasonable personal principles. The expression of my thoughts processed very slowly. I was afraid of speaking to anyone and of participation in any school events. I used to be one of the best students back home and now I see that my former perfectionism was a stumbling block on the way to overcoming the barrier.

Time has passed. When my plane landed on British land for the second time in 2016, I started to speak English freely to people who were waiting in the long line for the security check-in with me. That time I felt that I grew up. My second year started differently and I met a lot of great people I would’ve never started a conversation with. I decided to keep it up and now I write this tiny but very special for me (and maybe for some people who read this) article for United Words.

Making a conclusion, I want to give a small piece of advice I have learned myself. Do not put yourself in a cage of fear and never stop to change. Your language is not an obstacle but a big advantage. You just need to learn one more. The community, friends, and teachers are here to help you. My message was written to help you. Make it interesting for yourself and open a new world with different shapes and colors. That’s my message to the world – work hard to overcome your struggles and most importantly never give up.

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