I started my first Norwegian class in January and, truthfully, liked it a lot. It was exactly the level I needed to be in (I skipped the first one since I knew the basics and was ready for a little more of a challenge), and for the most part I didn't mind going for 3 hours 2 nights a week.
When class was over I got my certificate saying that I had completed 56 hours and could move up to the next level. There were no breaks in between the old class and the new, and we jumped right in to only speaking Norwegian. The class had dropped from 13 to 6, 2 of which were a couple who had an unbelievable mastery of the language.
I can sort of understand native Norwegian's when they speak (sometimes.) - but I couldn't understand the Polish accent these 2 put on the Norwegian they spoke at incredible speed. Within the first 30 minutes I felt incredibly overwhelmed and incompetent. I went home determined to review everything we did in class and take the homework really seriously.
Well, I tried that. After 3 hours I gave up and resigned myself to be unprepared for the following class. I felt myself plummeting into a black hole of self doubt and sudden reluctance to try.
When was the last time you tried to speak Norwegian?, you might ask. My answer? I can't even remember besides the "kan jeg også ha en pose?" (Can I also have a bag?) when buying cat litter the other day. That's been the only phrase besides telling the cat: flink gutt du er! (clever boy, you are!). At the moment, if someone speaks Norwegian to me, I can feel the puzzled look come over my face....and then a slow understanding...and when I try to respond all that comes out is an exasperated sigh. Where have all my words gone?! Where has my go-getter, throw your worries to the wind attitude about trying gone?! Panic sets in and I unfortunately go to my fall back phrase: Snakker du engelsk? (Do you speak English? please oh please oh please speak English!)
My pile of ever-so-expensive Norwegian books are staring at me as I write this, and I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt that I haven't opened them in weeks.
I quit the class. I told the manager of the school that I will come back and try again in the summer or the fall, but right now I just can't do it. I'm not motivated and more than a little stressed out with the thought of needing to take driving lessons and a driving test, and fill in lots of applications for work-related things.
So I'm on a temporary Norwegian hiatus with the promise to myself that I will do a little bit in my book every now and then.
Before I moved, I made contact with a girl from Canada. I asked her about learning Norwegian and how the experience was for her. Her words are still in my head: it's not something to stress yourself out about. You'll learn it eventually and in your own way.
I think she's right. For now, I'll stick to having my Norwegian experience of the week be a free Sunday morning yoga class. She speaks very slowly, quietly, and the most popular phrase that I can appreciate the most right now: slappe av.