As I walked into the brightly lit salon, the mixture of various synthetic smells filling the air and funky house music playing in the background, I felt nervous. I mouth felt like sandpaper, my checks felt flushed and I looked like a sweaty, jittery mess, despite the 3°C weather outside.
'Come on, you can do this,' I told myself.
'Tere! Mul on aeg kinni pandud.' I said to the cute, blonde smiling girl at the front counter.
After 2 years of taking the easy option of speaking English with my hairdressers, today I took the terrifying plunge and put my (very expensive) Estonian lessons to the test with a new hairdresser. I decided to use only Estonian for the entire 1.5 hr exchange; the explanation of what colour and cut I wanted, the chit chat, the payment, everything. And guess what? I didn't walk out of the salon with blue and purple hair! As I strutted to the car with my sexy new do, I had this compelling urge to give myself a fist pump. I had done it! Yes, the exchange was awkward, uncomfortable and I felt like a 3 year old child with a stutter, but I was understood! And it felt amazing.
Learning this very hard language, having never learnt another language before, has given me a new appreciation and empathy for those students who come into my class with limited English language skills.