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A hospital in a different language


This week I had a small surgery (this is also the reason I have been absent from writing recently).

And the experience in the hospital led me to think about illnesses in a different language.

Language is our connection to ourselves. It is our connection to others. Through language we create our world. The inner and the outer world.

Anthropologists teach us that language is a major cultural component (any language, even the non-verbal).

So I went in for surgery this week. I arrived at the hospital and the questions began. In French. I speak French perfectly but I was so stressed that I thought for two seconds... which was interpreted as "do you speak English?" yet again a reminder for me that I'm not local.

The nurses and doctors tried to make small talk like "What do you do in life?" or "everything ok?" And I nodded. I spoke with my eyes. The tongue froze.

The pressure paralysed me a bit (I'm always talking...). I had a lot to say but I felt like I didn't feel like saying it in French. At that moment I only had thoughts in Hebrew. It must be my ‘fear language’. My emotional language. But no one understands my language here.

I felt a little alone.

During the operation (under local anesthesia) the doctor talked about my condition with the other doctor. I wanted to listen. I was so quiet in order to hear and understand. But there was a caveat. Literally. I couldn't hear a thing. Only pieces of words. I also wanted to answer. But no.

This experience sharpened my knowledge of the importance of language in relocation. From buying products for a cheesecake that will come out exactly the way you want, to being able to express my fear in a language where I can express it.

Learning a new language is hard. In Belgium I studied two... In learning it, is important to emphasize nuances and powerful little words. The same words that will help express the fear as well.

Where did you meet the need to say things exactly the way you want it to be understood by others?

If it is difficult for you too, if you also have fear and concerns in relocation,

I'm here to help.

Dr. Efrat Tzadik

Certified coach expert in migration and integration

Find your home away from home


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