Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Great Wall of Hindi

What you never heard of it? That’s because it’s a figment of my imagination but I can assure you it exists and I have been banging my head against it for a couple of weeks now.

It has recently come to my attention that our final Hindi exam will be on March 29 and I that has me feeling just a tad bajigity. With less than a month left till the exam and about a month until we leave for India, everything seems too up-in the air for my comfort.

But back to the Great Wall of Hindi. I knew I would hit it. I hit the wall of language learning when I studied English eons ago and I don’t remember that particular time fondly. I anticipated to hit the Great Wall of Hindi around Christmas but that didn’t happen for some reason. I was so busy with the holidays and school that I forgot about it. Well, I am definitely feeling it now and it’s not fun.

About three weeks ago in Hindi class we moved away from grammar and into reading newspaper articles and making oral presentations in preparation for our final exam. Sounds pretty benign, right? Don’t be fooled, it’s anything but. I remember, a few months ago when we were newbies and were doing mostly grammar and basic lessons, we would talk to the advanced Hindi students and they’d tell us how they were reading newspaper articles and discussing them. I was so jealous. I don’t know what I was thinking but it just sounded so cool and interesting (compared to grammar). Well, I have reached that point only to realize I was totally delusional. Because here we are, buried in high-level vocabulary on hard-core topics like terrorism, environmental issues, crime and punishment, education, health, economics, government and politics and I can’t make heads or tails of it. As I read newspaper articles, I see tons of words that seem familiar but I just can’t, for the life of me, remember what they mean. They just don’t seem to be sticking in my head the way they used to. So frustrating! I hear from students, who have successfully passed their language tests that the last month is the hardest but that it gets better in the end. It’s so overwhelming right now that my brain hurts.

But I am just the spouse, so what pressure, you might ask. Well, things changed a little for me since I passed the Foreign Service Oral Assessment. Because I passed but my score was not very high – 5.3 (minimum to pass is 5.25). Not that I am complaining. I know it’s infinitely better to pass than not to but because my score was on the low end, I now need language bonus points in order to get hired. Otherwise I have to start from scratch and that’s no fun.

Hindi is a critical needs language and passing my exam with 2/2 will give me a much needed bonus of .4 and boost my score to 5.7, which is still not ideal but I am much more likely to get hired with 5.7 than with 5.3. It’s not guaranteed, just more likely. Plus, if I get hired, I am much more likely to get posted in India (hopefully Delhi) with Hindi, than without it, which would be nice because we’d like to keep the family together, if at all possible.

So, yeah, the pressure is definitely on as far as language but there’s also all the stuff that we have to do in preparation for our move, so bajigity has become my new normal. And it’s not that I don’t enjoy Hindi anymore but I just can’t wait to be done with class and get to India already so we can use it for real. I realize that passing the exam doesn’t mean we are going to know everything there’s to know about Hindi but we’ll have a good foundation, on which we can build once in India. In that sense, our arrival date (in India) can’t come fast enough.

Until then I need to go review some new vocab. Here’s hoping it sticks…


  1. Well I learned a new word: bajigity. It sounds kinda Hindi. Best of luck. Hang in there and knock it out of the park. You've made me a little nervous about the whole Hindi thing! I know you'll do great. Do let us know.

  2. Congratulations on passing the oral assessment. I have faith that you'll find the sledge hammer you need to knock down that wall and ace that Hindi exam. I can't wait to hear more good news from you.

  3. Do you know where your house will be yet? We've already put in our request. Fingers crossed.

    1. No, Amy, not yet. It is cutting it close but our guess is that's because we asked to be on the Embassy compound/enclave and most people there are staying put until the end of the school year. Hopefully, we'll get lucky and get something nice on the compound.

  4. I totally hear you! Those damn articles and presentations. ARGH! I can't believe you're leaving in a month! Just hang in will get there.

  5. Good Luck!!! You guys must be sooo looking forward to getting to India already! You will do great on your test and whatever you've learned will certainly be useful in India! Can't wait to see you guys there!

  6. Hi, we just got our email yesterday that we're going to be joining you in Delhi next year, so I'm excited for you guys to get there so I can hear all about it!


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