Denver is definitely treating me well. After 21 hours of traveling from Finland — almost 15 hours of flying — I couldn’t take the goofy smile off my face during the taxi drive to the city.
In my first post, I laid out the two challenges I’ve set myself on my second trip to the United States, this time as a member of ONA’s student newsroom. Even though I studied briefly in Statesboro, Georgia, I still don’t feel at home here in some ways. So, I decided to tackle the American small talk and go through barriers I had in my head about being perfect.
During the taxi ride to the hotel, I ran into my first language difficulty. The driver was from Africa (I can’t remember which country) and had been in the United States for years. He was super nice, but he had an accent that was difficult for me to understand. Every time he spoke, I had to ask him to repeat what he said. Embarrassing.
Getting to the hotel, I found out that my roommate for the conference was already here. She is very lively and always talking about stuff. We hit it off immediately, and I’m glad to have her as a roommate.
The thing is, though, she talks fast. When I want to make a comment, I feel like I’m too slow. I have a witty thing to say, but it takes me too much time to form it in English in my head. When I’m ready to open up my mouth, we have already moved on to other subjects. I guess the problem is that I don’t feel like a native speaker when I expect me to feel like that.
I have to keep reminding myself that it is okay for me to not be so fast and efficient in communicating when I don’t usually use the English language every day. I don’t have to be perfect, and I can fail. As long as I get understood, things are going to be fine.
However, being more forgiving towards myself doesn’t make it okay for me to slack around. I have to push myself to the uncomfortable zones and beyond and see what happens. Maybe magic.
I’ve do feel like I’ve been doing well on the small talk challenge. I had a conversation with the taxi driver, I’ve been trying to talk to new people all the time and I remembered the “how are you” way of greeting the Americans do. Way to go me.
I’m snapping and tweeting all the way through the conference. So add me on Snapchat (@Miiimh, yes, there are three i’s in there) and follow me on twitter (@Miimh).
Huomiseen! (I’ll see you tomorrow!)