Two weeks ago I was burgled in my accommodation in Strasbourg (You can read about it on my personal blog here). While I am not hoping that any of you get burgled at all, I am trying to see the positive side of things, and how this may have affected my language skills. If you are another unfortunate victim of theft or burglary abroad, try and consider some of these options
1) You will have to get a lot better at telling stories – I can’t count the amount of times I had to explain this story to the authorities and the insurance company, and as you progress you start remembering and adding in details.
2) You will have to be interviewed by the police. This was one of the scariest oral tests of my life but halfway through he started speaking directly in French when he said he could understand everything I said – this was probably the only time I was happy that day, and it does make you more confident. Although I wasn’t necessarily grammatically correct I could get my main point across, and with that, I crossed a linguistic barrier
3) Your writing may improve – I had to write a statement in the insurance company building which was quite testing, especially when she couldn’t read my handwriting (difference between ‘porte'[door] and ‘poste’ [mailbox]
4) You have to speak to a lot of people you probably would never encounter before – I was put into situations talking to my university in Strasbourg with many ‘officers’ as they call them, and there is no opportunity to go back into your mother tongue
5) Your confidence improves – I know this sounds a bit odd, especially as I still can’t sleep at night, but you become a much more proactive person. You know it will never happen again and, hopefully like me, you’ll try and focus on getting everything sorted – although friends came with me to the police station, I sorted out everything else out by myself, which was daunting. Although I like to think of myself as a fully functioning adult it is necessary to keep a level head – what should you do? Who should you contact? What’s the most important thing to replace first? Do you have any other way to get money?
These are unfortunately the only five points I can think of! I hope if you are a victim of an a theft abroad that you yourself are okay and were not harmed. I could have been a lot worse and at least I think I am a hardened, more proactive and confident person. Hopefully now it is onwards and upwards!