As Ira Glass once said (of David Sedaris in Paris) on This American Life, learning a new language can be traumatic. Traumatic, that is, if it becomes your new mode of communication, your new everyday tongue. You have to surrender familiar words, phrases and, most wrenching of all, familiar ways of thinking. That's not all, though; competence, fluency, security and being able to express yourself in precisely the way you intend fly out the window, seemingly lost to you forever.
Basically, you have to accept that, for a long and terrible while, you're going to feel like an idiot.
The moment in which this feeling starts to dissipate is memorable, even palpable. It might be when a native informs you your credit card is declined and you understand every word he says without strain. It might be when you're talking to a friend and manage to describe your feelings to your own satisfaction. It might be when you have that first conversation in which you do not feel lost or left behind.
Language learners at every level have moments in which they note their own progress and think, "Wow. I sure as hell couldn't do that before." But at some point, using the language, really using it, becomes somewhat easy, if only by comparison to your abilities 1, 2, 3 months ago. It seems to me that this is the light at the end of the tunnel. This is when you start to become less and less of an idiot every day.
I'm still an idiot, but I'm an idiot with the skills to deal with nearly any everyday situation.
It's official. I start teaching English literature, language, and oral skills at the lukio level this autumn. Planning these courses has already been challenging and fiercely rewarding, and I feel quite at home in the environment and with my very open, kind, helpful colleagues.
After months of boredom, I hit the jackpot.
My life can continue now.