Surprisingly, hearing English is one of the biggest shocks I experience when I first arrive in America. When I’m in Russia I sometimes find myself longing to hear English around me. But as soon as I do, it becomes a strange experience and it always takes me a while to adjust to speaking English. Of course it’s not that I forget my English or find it difficult to produce the words, but the physical act of speaking it is now a strange sensation.
Instead I automatically want to speak Russian or I begin thinking in Russian in preparation for speaking to someone in Russian. Then, when I speak in English, it feels so strange, like I’m doing something wrong almost. I think this is because it would be considered a bit taboo to speak to a sales assistant, for example, in English when I’m in Russia. Of course they might not understand me and even if they did, I’m sure I’d get some strange looks. Naturally it’s better to speak in Russian. So this always feels very strange.
I think it’s due to the fact that I suppress English when I’m in Russia. Although I use it outside of work, it’s usually in private. When I arrive in America, the language is suddenly public. It’s everywhere and people are speaking it freely, no one gives you a strange look for speaking in English and it’s all so normal it makes me a little suspicious and I feel out of place among my own language.
But such moments make me love and appreciate English so much more. I now savour and look forward to them and I’m thankful for being able to speak my native language. Our language is, in my opinion, one of the most overlooked things in our lives. We rarely pay attention to it and don’t understand just how important it is to us until it’s gone.