“To have another language is to have a second soul.”

I was 10 years old when I said to myself,
“I can do it on my own”

I was talking about learning German.
10-year-old Sarah was a determined child,
and not a lot has really changed.

I begged and begged.
Finally my mum took me to Barnes and Noble,
I sat on the floor looking through the German language books.
I didn’t know what I was looking for,
but finally I found a thin one that said “Learn German in 10 Minutes a Day”
Seemed promising.
So we bought it.

I dove right in.
Devouring that book cover to cover.
My dad even took it away once when we were out as a family at dinner.

The entire reason I wanted to learn German was so I could,
“spend a summer at Our Chalet in Switzerland”
Like I said, determination.

When my dad took that book away he also said,
“you know Switzerland has 4 languages right… What if Our Chalet is in the French part?”
So when I got home that night, with parental permission (LOL JK!), I used google to prove him wrong.

Adelboden, Switzerland was in fact in German-Switzerland.

At 13 I begged and pleaded for an exchange student to live with us from Switzerland.
Stating she could help me with my German,
Once again, I had to prove it was the right region of Switzerland.
I wasn’t wasting my time with French.
Nadine came, she lived, and we had a blast.
And I learned a few cuss words, no useful (in the eyes of my parents) German.

When Nadine and family visited us the summer I turned 15,
Nadine’s mom taught me how to count in German.
Feeling like the coolest kid alive, I showed my new skill to my darling sister Nadine,
and she told me I was wrong…

I was wrong because I was speaking high German (textbook),
And not Schwyzerdütsch (Swiss German)
Sorry sis, gotta learn the textbook stuff before I ruin all my skills with your dialect.
(which I have now ruined my textbook skills with the dialect)

Finally at 15, I was able to take my first language course through my high school.
And God smiled down on me, and had Blanchard add a German program the year before I was to start language.
Mr. Wakemen is, to date, one of my favorite teachers I’ve ever had.
The driest humor in the world, a knowledge of many subjects, and caring towards students if you were good.
But the man had never been to a German-speaking country… So there’s that…

People laughed at me when I picked German,
They said I would never use it.
I looked at every single one of them and said,
“I will use my German before I would ever use Spanish”

And at 16 I boarded my first international flight to Switzerland.
(the German-speaking part)
It wasn’t until I was 19 that I traveled to a Spanish-speaking country–so kudos to me.

I continued with two years of German at high school,
traveled to Germany in high school,
Then began college German.
lived in (German-speaking) Switzerland,
And was able to make a camper feel “normal” at camp, because sometimes her first language of German accidentally slipped out.
So I’d say I’m doing fairly well for myself,
because my experience with Spanish is still only my one week in Costa Rica.

It’s been a 10 year process, and I am still learning.
But every time I get the chance to speak,
I am overjoyed, and scared out of my mind.

“No matter the language, if you find a language you love, it will never be a chore to learn”

a joyous moment in Germany.

a joyous moment in Germany.


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