Yes, I'm learning to read...utilities, that is. And I do feel like a five year old trying to piece together lines on a page to form a word or two!
Having been raised in the tiny country of Burundi, Africa, I thought I had a good amount of empathy for people who move to America and start an entirely new life there--after all, hadn't I entered American society first as a ten old, clueless to many of the customs and expectations in "my" culture? Well, yes, that experience certainly made me more understanding of those who must adjust to a strange land and to new ways. But I'll tell you, after moving to Germany a year and a half ago when I was forty-six, I have even more admiration for the many who immigrate to the US and begin anew, especially grown-ups. It's just harder to do as an adult. Also, I knew English already when my parents returned to the States--a big advantage.
For example, this is my project today: I'm trying to decipher various key words in a letter from the local German utility company. Fortunately, the letter has color illustrations and an example, helpfully filled out. And I've consulted my Heinemann/Harrap German dictionary multiple times. Everything just takes three times as long to accomplish! When I'm more fluent in the language, it will be easier. But for the moment, I muddle along. Here's what I'm working on:
Also, my German neighbor, Frauke, has been of great assistance. She willingly translates letters and papers for me, and answers queries such as, "Do German doctors mind being asked lots of questions about their plan of action & diagnosis?" (She says "yes" in case you wondered.)
Oh, there's an online translater I like as well--BabelFish.