So I spent the last month in a tiny town in Le Marche, where not many speak english and I speak very little italian ("un po") . Now I'm in Paris, and though I do speak ok french it's almost scarier because I'm 'supposed' to know what I'm doing here. Here's a few things I've noticed about how it feels to live in a country where their language is not your mother tongue...
So maybe you have a killer handle on your first language and everything is pretty sorted in your life back home. But when you head off to a new land and start learning a new language, you're basically back to square one. You feel like a toddler again, a basic skill, necessary for life, one you thought you'd figured out has now completely left you. You stumble to say the simplest things, shop cashiers laugh and smile encouragingly, people correct you, actual toddlers correct you. As with any challenge in life though you can either get impatient and angry and give up or you can stay humble and sit with it and accept help and keep trying over and over again until you've got it.
You Become Less You
When you speak a second language you automatically become a less smart/funny/charming/friendly/cool version of yourself in that language. It's a weird feeling, where you just want to scream out, 'I'm still in here', sometimes because these people are just not getting how smart/funny/charming/friendly/cool you really are.
It's More Peaceful
When you can't really understand the idle chatter of the ladies at the supermarket or the BFF's gossiping on the bus without some effort, life becomes a bit more peaceful. Unconsciously taking on other people's 'stuff' is no longer a problem. It frees your mind and ears.
You Conquer Something
The feeling, when you finally do get the phrase right or you can just have a relaxed, not-weird conversation at the deli or you think someone may have mistakened you for a native, well that feels like you've conquered a mountain.