August was a very busy month and I didn’t do any writing, which made me feel anxious and frustrated. However, I did a lot of Dutch-learning, which made me feel proud. When I say a lot I really mean it: I had three-hour classes five days a week plus a shit-ton of homework plus newspaper reading plus talking with the Flemish boyfriend. I was constantly busy with Dutch.
It all started with me not wanting to sit at home for two months letting all I’ve learned slip away from my brain. The school where I studied didn’t offer summer courses, but the University Language Center did. It’s quite expensive (€375 per month/level) but I got hold of this valuable piece of information: the City of Ghent grants you a discount if you meet the following requirements:
"1. To reside in one of the sub-districts of the City of Ghent
2. Being a legal resident and have a real and permanent judicial residence expectation
3. The gross monthly family income is below 4000 euro
4. Reference of the Huis van het Nederlands Gent vzw."
All I had to do was go to the House of Dutch with my identity card and some pay checks and get the paper. After I enrolled paying only €99 I took an entrance exam and – no shit – passed for their highest level! Maybe I’ve been underestimating my skills.
Passing that exam shifted something and I immediately started speaking more Dutch with the people around me.
The whole month was ITNA this, ITNA that and a lot of anxiety on the part of people who depended on it for their visas. I tried to relax and just learn the most I could because that was my goal to start with. We did a lot of reading and grammar/vocabulary exercises in order to prepare for the first phase: the computer test. If you pass that you can take the oral test. That annoyed the shit out me. The oral test was composed of a presentation and an argumentation. You get diagrams and you have to interpret the information and present them. Boring.
I did the best I could, all the while thinking that I didn't know half of what everybody else did and that I wouldn't pass.
I was wrong.
Of course I need to learn more and I’m going back to the CVO, twice a week. I took a new level test and they let me enroll on level 9. Nine! I just skipped four levels, bam!
Bragging is the least I want to do with this post. What I want to say is: NEVER UNDERESTIMATE YOURSELF. Cliché but true.
What is your experience learning languages?