Words I Forget in English (Part I)

I’m sitting in an empty airport terminal in Germany right now, waiting for my connecting flight that will take me to the United States. When I land tomorrow it will be the first time I’ve touched American soil in nearly two years.

A lot of things have changed since I’ve been gone. I can honestly say I’m not the same person now as when I left — and I’m proud of that.

But still, I’m nervous. I’m nervous to confront how I’ve changed, how my world has changed. I’m nervous about being thrown back into a society driven by the needs of individuals (and not communities). I’m nervous about surrounding myself with things I’ve learned to live without — my family, my friends, my dogs, Texas barbecue…

But I’m also nervous about something a little less abstract…

My English.

As time has ticked on and my Arabic fluency grown, my hold on the English language has slowly been falling out of my grasp. I find it more difficult to recall words and realize that my use of advanced vocabulary has sharply decreased.

It isn’t uncommon for me to say “What is it called when…?” or “What is the opposite of…?” during conversations in Arabic so that I can learn new vocabulary.

Except I do it in English now too.

It’s as if my English and Arabic language proficiencies operate inversely to one another, often leaving me feeling voiceless in both.

(Side note: it took me 5 minutes sitting here mid-paragraph to find the word “inverse” in my brain.)

Recently I’ve been keeping a list of all the words I’ve forgotten mid-conversation in English. When applicable I’ve included in parentheses what I said instead of the correct word. Here is the list for your viewing pleasure.

Words I Forget in English (Part I):

  • waiting tables (waitering?)
  • horoscope
  • drill team (kick team?)
  • cafeteria
  • greenhouse gases
  • opaque (not… transparent?)
  • light bulb (that thing that makes light?)
  • carbon dioxide
  • upgrade
  • progress
  • burnt out (died?)
  • suspend (block?)
  • excluding (discluding?)
  • permanent (things that don’t go away?)
  • parasailing
  • advisor
  • hoop
  • especially
  • trivet (those things you put hot plates on?)
  • the straw that broke the camel’s back (the needle that broke the haystack?)

America, I can’t wait to see ya.

Just please be kind to me and my English, okay?

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The 100 Day Countdown

Friday marks 100 days until I leave for Morocco and begin my adventure with the Peace Corps. Wow.

You might be curious… What exactly does a future Peace Corps Volunteer do with their last 100 days in the United States?

It’s long enough that I still feel like I have a lot of time (too much time, perhaps…), but short enough that I’m approaching each day with a new-found sense of urgency. 100 days means lots of “to-do” lists. It’s a mixture of preparing for Morocco as much as I can, but living in the present and being with my family. It means still making big goals that I can work towards — learning beginner Arabic and French, and running a half-marathon — but taking the time to enjoy the little moments every day that I know I’m going to miss the most.

Even though my enthusiasm to serve often means the anticipation of waiting overwhelms me, I am determined to celebrate each of the last 100 days.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to the most:

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  1. On Monday nights I teach a reading and writing class to adult learners in downtown Dallas with LIFT. It’s one of my favorite parts of the week and I’ve enjoyed getting to know my students so much since I first met them in July. It’s amazing how much learning to read can change a person’s life — and the fact that most of my students are twice my age, work full-time, and have families to take care of and they still attend class twice weekly is incredible.
  2. My beginner Arabic lessons (thank goodness I have 100 days left to work on this one!)
  3. At the end of October I’ll be visiting Washington, D.C. to hang out with some of my favorite people!
  4. I’m running the Dallas Half-Marathon in December. I’ve never been a distance runner, so this has been a very difficult but rewarding personal goal of mine to work toward!
  5. One of the silver linings about leaving in January is that I’ll be here throughout the holiday season to be with my family! It’s been really great to watch my sister perform in her play (That’s all of us after Suessical the Musical above), celebrate birthdays, see my sisters dressed up for the Homecoming dance, and to spend time with my parents. If they aren’t sick of me after these past 4 months at home, I’m sure the last 100 days will do the trick!

Cheers to a great 100 days America!