Language course for Introverts

Here's an article by one of our Dutch students about her time at Elanguest in Malta.

Before I came to Malta I had been an introvert for all my life. I didn't use to speak much, especially with people I didn't know; and I always needed some time to open up to people. Speaking in groups - even small ones - was impossible: I always turned bright red, began to mumble and got weak knees. And, what was even worse, was that I had difficulties to fit in any group. So I decided, right around my fifteenth birthday, that a language course in a foreign country wouldn't be a good idea for me. I was afraid of becoming lonely and isolated far from my own home. But on January 1st 2012, everything changed.

2011 had been a very difficult year for me and had had a serious impact on my ego and the happiness with life, so I decided that a few things had to change. My impulsiveness and… Well, I decided to start with impulsiveness - one thing at a time, Esther. Until then I tended to plan every little aspect in my life and wanted everything to happen according to that plan. Of course, that didn't happen often, and I got confused and frustrated.

I decided to think about things I’d wanted to do years before and the answer sprang to mind very quickly: I wanted to go abroad for as long as my finances would be able to handle. And because I struggled with one subject at university - translating Dutch to English - I decided to do a language course in English. So, I booked one Malta.

Naturally, I spent a few months thinking about how lonely I would be, that I wouldn’t be able to make any contacts, that I’d lock myself up in my apartment, that people wouldn’t like me, and so on. It wasn’t until two weeks before departure that I decided that I was able to handle all that. Malta was supposed to be an island with a lot of historical sites I could visit; and I love the English language, so the lessons would probably be fun. In a nutshell, I had a lot of contradictory thoughts in my head.

And then the plane landed in Malta… And well, it’s a cliché to say that I immediately fell in love with the country, but I liked the view for sure. So much so that all my worries disappeared and I decided there and then that I would just go with the flow.

And I did. At the airport, I immediately met three girls from the same country, one of them turning out to be my future flatmate. The next day after the test, three more girls joined the group: one from Belgium, another from Germany and, another from the Netherlands. I had never been that comfortable in a group. Then came the first lessons and whereas normally I would sit quietly at the back of the class, and not give any answers, for some reason, I just gave every answer I knew, without turning red; without being ashamed. And, amazingly, nothing scary happened!

The four weeks in Malta went by quickly; faster than I wanted them to. I talked to teachers, I talked a lot with my friends (and I had never was a real talker), I wasn’t ashamed about the fact that I can be a geek, I went out (for the second time in my life) an enjoyed it, I drank a lot of cocktails, I even went shopping three times (I didn’t like shopping before). But at the same time, I didn’t lose myself; I am still the person I was before I came here, but with more self-confidence and, most importantly, I discovered that being me isn’t a bad thing.

Ultimately, Malta did two things for me: it made me open up and at the same time I came to accept myself with all my flaws. And accepting yourself comes a long way.