Life has given me a lot of ups and downs recently. More ups with is a good thing and of course I'm sure you all know the subject, Dutch!
I am still studying Dutch almost each and every night, all night. I am doing a number of different things to help me, and I am pretty proud of myself so far. I know a lot of words, and partially follow conversations pretty well now, and can get by at most stores/restaurants. Just Wednesday, I went to my third Dutch meetup.com group where we speak pretty much exclusively in Dutch. Everyone there says that I am doing pretty good for being here seven months. There was even a Dutch teacher who showed up this past meeting who told me the same thing. Made me feel pretty good. Also, I even talked to someone at the datacenter where I often go for work. He started talking to me in Dutch today (which surprised me!) but I went with it for a while and he also told me that I've come a long way since the last time he tried to speak Dutch with me. There are also people at work and some friends who are impressed with what I know.
I am very happy to try and speak Dutch around the meetup group, at stores, and with fluent Dutch speaking individuals one-on-one. But I am very uncomfortable speaking whenever there is a group of Dutch speaking individuals, it still makes me feel really dumb and I don't like doing that so much yet.
So now we get to the not so good part. Even though I am really happy to see some progress with myself, there is still just so much more to learn. I still can have "real" conversations with people which I still have such a strong desire for. I know that the process takes a long time and things don't just happen overnight, but I wish there was a date or timeframe that I could be waiting for where I know that, after this point, I will be where I want to be. I think that is the most frustrating part is not knowing when this will be coming. I still get upset (though not as frequently) and thing to myself that it is never going to happen and that I am just wasting my time every night studying and studying and studying. Sheesh, I though all this studying would be over after I graduated from CMU. Guess it never ends. I have piles and piles of flash cars stacked up here and and making more every day. They have been pretty helpful in learning new words but I just can't help but wander, how many do I need to make in order to just be "normal" here and go on with everyday life? How much longer will it take? Is all of this trouble worth it? What if I finally learn this crazy language and then I decide to move back to the United States (or even some other non-Dutch speaking country!!) will this all have been in vein? I sure hope not, but these and many others are the questions that run through my head each and every day.
I know I need to start speaking more for sure, but that is easier said than done. It is quite embarrassing to speak with fluent Dutch speakers whenever your speech is really cumbersome and s-l-o-w. But I HAVE TO get over this or else it is going to stay at this level forever, and that would be terrible!
So generally speaking I am happy with my progress but still really frustrated. Either way, I am still, of course, going to continue with this and hopefully someday look back at this post and laugh.