For the vast majority of expats, learning the language of their host country is an option. So how would you feel if you not only had to learn the language but prove your proficiency to receive a residency permit?
Leaving with good intentions
Many expat partners move to another country with the best of intentions about learning the language of their host country. But if an inability to speak the language (to any level of proficiency) has no significant impact on their quality of life, those honourable intentions often get left behind somewhere along the way.
Proof of proficiency
But what if you didn’t have an option? We were approached by an American expat living in Europe, who’d had to take a test to prove he has some proficiency in the local language to receive a new residency permit. He was an absolute beginner to the language and, in his own words, no spring chicken.
Having no choice in the matter, the partner knuckled down to studying the language but taking lessons proved expensive and, sadly, insufficient (he failed the test by four points). He was not only extremely stressed about the situation but admitted he’d been depressed and that his relationship had also suffered as a consequence of this strain.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, he’d had no social network for support. He had also not been working for the first time in his adult life. That can be tough even when not under additional pressure. His predicament might not be common in our community as, mercifully, most countries do not require ‘proof of proficiency’. But perhaps there are some readers who are equally desperate to learn the language for other reasons (work, cultural integration, etc) and feeling very pressured.
Try to relax (and have fun)
If so, remember that when we’re at our most overwhelmed, small distractions, short breaks and self-care can make a huge difference. Take those long walks. Listen to therapeutic melodies. Enjoy a long bath. Make sure you’re eating healthily and getting enough sleep. Also, whenever possible, seek out alternative / fun ways to absorb the language, e.g. listening to the local radio stations, singing pop songs, watching kids shows or cartoons, and so on. Try not to think of it as a battle, or the language as an adversary. Make it your accomplice instead.
This article was originally published for the thousands of expat partners that Global Connection supports around the globe. It is reproduced here in its original form.