Giving Things A Second Chance
And a third, and a fourth, and a fifth.
As a picky eater a phrase I hear a lot is “have you even tried it?”. The answer is always yes. I’m not a picky eater by choice and I believe everything deserves a chance. However I also think that things deserve a lot of chances and knowing that tastes change as we grow I’m always willing to try things again.
This idea of many chances extends into the whole of my life. Forgiveness is such an important factor for friendship and dealing with people in general. Although, if someone hurts you or is not good for you, you can draw a line. Sometimes it’s difficult to give things a second chance. You got hurt the first time and you don’t want to risk that again, but I’d say you have to be open for good things to happen.
I’ve been studying German since I was 11. I absolutely loved it for the first 6 years. I loved it so much that I worked hard at it and did well. I set my heart on becoming fluent in German and one day moving there because I also happen to love Germany as a country. The sixth year of me studying it was at AS level, in a class of 5 people, one of whom was my best friend. I had an incredible teacher who was Bulgarian and fluent in 6 languages (Bulgarian, German, French, Spanish, Russian, English). She was inspiring and made me work even harder at this language because I wanted to show her that she’d made such a positive impact on me. I didn’t do particularly well in the exam but I knew I’d tried my hardest and that’s what mattered. The whole class also went on a trip to Berlin, where I fell in love with the city and haven’t looked back since. It was such a happy time and so I decided I’d continue studying German the next year.
This is where my troubles kicked in. I was the only person who had chosen to continue German into the second year. As a result of this the school decided it wasn’t, and I quote, ‘financially viable’ to run all of my classes. Then the teacher I adored announced she was leaving. Followed by the school informing me I would have to be in a class with a native German speaker, but only for half the lessons, the other half would be one-on-one sessions with a new teacher who made me feel really uncomfortable. I responded as maturely as I could by requesting more teaching hours or more resources, both were denied. I requested that I could take extra lessons at our nearby school who we shared classes with, which was denied. I requested that I be assigned another teacher (there were 2 others in the department who could speak German and I got on with really well) this was also denied. I submitted a complaint to my head of Sixth Form with my parents signatures on it, which was ignored.
The following year was agony for me. I went from loving the language and wanting to spend all my time studying it to feeling physically sick and panicked at the thought. At A2 level you’re supposed to have 6–8 hours of teaching time a week, for German I was getting 2. German isn’t something you can really teach yourself out of a text book and so I struggled. When I was in lessons they would teach the material at the level of the native German speaker, so I was completely lost and just sat there silently feeling more and more stupid. It came to a head when before one lesson I sat on the stairs in the middle of the school building and had a full blown panic attack; sobbing, shaking, hyperventilating resulting in me being excused from the lesson to have a discussion with the head of Sixth Form. She demanded to know why I was being so silly and if I was this upset why hadn’t I said something. I explained I had, multiple times to several different people.
Eventually they hired a languages assistant who gave me 2 extra hours of teaching a week and was kind enough to check if I’d actually understood what she was teaching me. I didn’t revise as much for this exam because it still made me incredibly anxious and unsurprisingly I almost failed the year.
Skip forward two years
My course at university requires me to take a Module Outside the Main Discipline. I was presented with a list of modules I could take and told to pick one that fitted with my timetable. My choice was fairly limited: Study of the Holocaust; Jews, Judaism and Being Jewish; Byzantium Art History or German. If you’d told me at the end of A2 that I would choose to study German at university I would have laughed till I cried. However because I believe in second chances I thought why not give it a go. So I did. I nearly didn’t go to the first lesson because I was so terrified that it would turn out just like my old lessons. I’m so glad I did go because over the course of this year I have rediscovered my love of this language and a willingness to apply myself to it that I thought I’d lost forever.
There are still times when the thought of German makes me panicky because I had such a bad experience with it, but over time, and because I was open to giving it a second chance, I am growing happier and happier about it. I’m even slightly looking forward to the exam!!
It always disappoints people when, even after 10 chances, I still don’t like vegetables, but I keep trying. Maybe one day something will change (although I’m no longer sure broccoli deserves an 11th chance).