At present it may seem as if it is a barrier but...
...I have yet to encounter a barrier that I could not either climb over, crawl under or overcome, one way or another!
My home language is Afrikaans and I love it. I have found it to be to the point, yet descriptive in the most unusual ways and because it was the first language I learnt it is the base from which I am, and I will treasure it, always. But (there's got to be a but), I have always wanted to be able to communicate with any and everyone and at school enjoyed learning English and then both German and French. Having grown up in the 'apartheid' years, I did not have the privilege of learning Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, or any of the other official South African languages.
After finishing high school, I was fortunate enough to also learn Spanish and a smattering of Italian but had dreams of becoming an international courier, speaking Mandarin, Russian, Cantonese...an endless list that could have kept me studying languages till I was old and grey. Unfortunately these languages were 'communist' and so, not on the 'available' list.
Life happened...and I managed to raise three beautiful boys, along with tasting several areas of professional employment, from receptionist at a massage parlour in Cape Town and late-night singer at a club in Hillbrow, to trainee Gemologist and short-term Insurance Underwriter.
My love for the written word won through though and I started a career in journalism, as cub-reporter with community newspapers, branching out into advertising, promotions, public relations and projects, with design and desktop publishing following after and, after moving back to my hometown - Durban - I became involved in the academic world. First as tutor and short course presenter with the department of Journalism and Public Relations, progressing to a stint as lecturer in Media Studies and then on to assisting with sustainable tourism project co-ordination and even the process of helping with the development of an interactive platform for students in...first year accounting, of all subjects.
And through it all I have read, and read, and am still reading. My fascination with leaflets and pamphlets of any kind has my family and friends collecting on my behalf and when presented with a carrier bag full of 'words on paper', it's as if my birthday and Christmas have sneaked up and surprised me. Why leaflets and pamphlets, you may ask? Well...it's free reading material...and I have gleaned many a story and learnt lots and lots from the sometimes random 'words on paper' found on brochures and the like (and sometimes, there's cool pictures as well).
The barrier/challenge I alluded to at the start of this writing is a new language, a different culture. I have, however, taken the first step towards possible enlightenment tonight, by stating the obvious out loud and in writing. As much as it pains me, I have had to ask for suggestions on how to proceed from here.
Be warned though...I am not giving up, oh no, far from it, I have just started.
Memories of my early childhood are a reminder of a time when all I could speak was Afrikaans...memories of my teens remind me of the new worlds which opened when I learnt different languages...and the taste may be faint BUT is by no means forgotten!