pencil tapping against the desk
The first foreign language you study for years without using it, seemingly in a vacuum, wondering if it’s completely pointless. Those years that are like a waiting room for real life, spending countless hours learning things they say you’ll need later, learning slowly, thoroughly.
Now, the next language you’re learning all in a hurry, literally as you go along, out of direct necessity. You don’t find yourself with time to study correct verb tenses or the subtleties of phrasing; you just adapt from what you already know. And it’s efficient, and largely effective, but then eventually you hit a wall where you can’t find the longer, more specialized words you want to say, and you can’t remember what they were later to look them up.
Most of the things we need to know now we learn on the job, running, recovering from a mistake already made, wondering why they didn’t teach us this when we had all that time before.
And you sort of wish for those long afternoons in classrooms, even the ones in June, barely paying attention, when everyone’s eyes were out the window, planning what to do after school. When we had more than enough time to learn everything, but didn’t yet realize the luxury in that. We were in our own hurry back then instead.