onsdag 2. april 2008

Foreign Language part 3

So I graduated from university, got a couple of crappy jobs (that even has nothing to do with my major) and when I realize a quarter of my life is gone and I have achieved nothing and no improvement in sight. I decided to move back to Norway to give it a shot.

The biggest problem I face if I move back to Norway would be the language. It would be hard for someone to imagine moving to a foreign country for 11 years and forget their Cantonese. It's true that you would never forget your mother tongue, but as for Norwegian, which is a second language to me, it is definitely possible since I have only used Norwegian twice in 11 years (Once in Epoct center in Disney world, Orlando and the other time when I overheard someone speaking Norwegian). Well, I have decided to put that aside till I go back since English will get me around.

So I have started to apply for jobs 2 months before I go back just to make sure I have some interviews lined up the moment I arrived. I made sure I send in my CV in English plus I use English in all communications so that they would know that I cannot Norwegian. It worked fine for one of the company, while for the other company, Geodata, the interviewer was not aware that I cannot Norwegian and when I walked in for the interview, he greets me with "Velkommen" and I immediately thought to myself "uh oh". He started to speak and I just have no idea what he was talking about until I told him in my broken Norwegian that I have just came back after 11 years gone and that I need time to learn Norwegian again. So instead he uses his broken English to introduce the company to me and the interview was fine.

Eventually I was hired by Geodata, it has about 100 employees with 2 from India who cannot speak Norwegian and the majority of them are fluent in at least Norwegian and English. My direct supervisor has only one major goal for me for the first 6 months and that is to learn Norwegian. He even told my co-workers to only speak Norwegian to me. It was a good decision by him. My Norwegian is slowly coming back to me, although not as fast as I have hoped, but they noticed the improvements. Once again I put myself in the situation of a conversation and force myself to use words that I have forgotten. My co-workers are nice and patient enough to help me in the process.

The challenge of learning Norwegian again this time is different from the previous times. Before, I never knew the words and I just need to find out and remember. Now, for some of the words, I knew it before, need to just find out what it is again and remember. However, after living in the US for 11 years I have also learned their way of speaking and although most of the terms are similar, there are just certain expressions that doesn't exists in Norwegian. I used to say: "It would be great if you can ....." and I just can't find a similar expression.

Well, a year have gone and now in 2008 I would say I have no problem with communicating with Norwegians but comparing to how my Norwegian was before I moved to the US, I still have a long way to go.




This series is suppose to share my "struggle" to learn different languages at different times. For those who are in those struggle themselves, just hang in there.

A couple of things I would like to add that I forgot to mention in the posts....

- During the early 1990s in Norway, students begin mandatory English education at 4th grade. That means they start learning abc at 4th grade. So it isn't a surprise that my English is at 5th or 6th grade level when I go to US to begin 9th grade.

- One of the thing I used to do when I first moved to Norway is to turn on the radio and try to hear as many words you understand. It is a good way to measure how well you know the language. Of course, watching TV would give you the same result.

- From my horrible SAT Verbal score, I think one of the main reason I got into UCLA is because of the essay. The topic was about how this, how I had to learn 2 languages almost from scratch. Since they like diversity. So for future students who are looking to apply to UCs, write about your struggle would give you some extra points.

4 kommentarer:

laulong sa...

Fox:

人生貴乎經歷,因為這叫豐富!這方面,你擁有了!

Desertfox sa...

Laulong,
It is fine you can call me fox, other web friends call me DF. It is just a name.
Yes, when I look back I actually think I do have a lot of experience, I even forgot to mention I lived in 2 different cities. I moved away from Oslo in 1992 (the year after I got there) to a small town called Namsos. It's in the middle part of Norway and everybody speaks a different dialect (quite different from what I was used to) and so I have to learn it over again.
I went back to Namsos last October for our 10 year reunion, I can barely understand my friends again, but that night I had a lot of fun.
Life experience.....we all have a lot of, just all in different aspects. As a teacher like yourself, you have probably seen more people than I have and raising/teaching the future generation is an honorable profession.

xiao zhu sa...

So how you find your decision of moving back to Norway at this moment?

Desertfox sa...

Xiao Zhu,
I find it a good decision. 2 years ago I have to scrape together every penny just to survive. At that time I learned to be wise about spending. Now that I am here, with my parents help, I have a great job and a great part-time job plus I have an apartment and a future wife. I now have the stability that I have strived for for so long.

There are trade-offs but I can live with that. for example, I am really 為食 and in Norway there aren't much good Chinese food to find. So I have to make a point to go back to Hong Kong more often to eat the food there now. (I havn't been to Hong Kong since 2000).

By the way, is it ok that I put your blog link on my blog page? I would like to get your permission before I do that.