Tuesday, 26 January 2016 17:11

Starting the journey 

I  can’t really remember which teacher ‘got me started’ even though coming from a small village I could probably find out, but it is when I heard that in English my name would be 'Mary', that I decided that that was me. 

Right there and then I resolved that I was no longer 'Maria' and that a language which would call me Mary should be mine. I loved English from day one - maybe even for the fact that it had given me a new identity, but we won’t go there for now. 

Determined to ‘go to America’ from the age of seven 

I also can’t remember how I managed to get everyone to call me an English name in a small Austrian village where back in the mid-70s very few people actually spoke the language... but I did. That famous question about what you will do when you grow up I henceforth answered with “When I’m adult, I’m going to America!”

I do remember our secondary school English teacher who was feared for the amounts of homework he gave. And I did moan along with everyone else, but somehow I was too determined to speak that magic language to not do my homework, to not add those many new words in our homemade German-English dictionary. 

What you’re proposing 

I also remember thinking how wonderfully clever he was for being able to translate the title of my back then favourite song ‘What you’re proposing’ by Status Quo. I loved English for allowing me to (kind of) understand all those pop songs one likes as a teenager, and all my classmates would ask me for help with those ‘deep’ lyrics. I recall how bothered I was by the fact that I was not able to translate ‘Twist in my sobriety’ - but then again - that actually was deep. 

By the time I started my apprenticeship in textile sales, my English was good enough to get me into trouble during the weekly classes at the vocational school. In fact, my English was better than our elderly teacher’s and I spent most of our classes banned to the cloak room for interrupting and correcting him. 

Off to America 

A week after I had finished my 3-year apprenticeship with honourable mention, I was off the America. After all that talking I had done about it, it seemed like the most natural thing to me. Almost like going home.

I had replied to an ad in a German paper by a family in North Carolina, looking for an au-pair girl - a position that in their case was interpreted as 24/7 housekeeper, cook and child minder... but more on that later. 

At that point I was just excited to be off and use that language that resonated so much with me and had given me that ‘exotic identity’ at the age of seven. It did not take me long to actually think and dream in English. 

English my love 

I would later get an American High School diploma, pass the TOEFL and enter college - all with not too much struggle, simply because I loved English. 

I did take and enjoy analytical reading and creative writing classes back then, but it is only recently that I realized that writing really is ‘my thing’. Forever thankful to that teacher who ‘made me’ Mary. 


Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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