One requirement in academia, especially as an early career scientist, is the the willingness to study or work in different countries.
Personal motivation for the question: Apart from the professional side (having a job, developing as a researcher,...), the positive aspects of going abroad are clear to me: I really enjoy getting to know new countries, their mentality, culture, nature, etc. It is also a great opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. But on the downside: I only speak English and German, and I’m really bad at learning new languages, I might add. Also, I’ve seen a lot of non-German speaking colleagues struggle with learning German at my home University for years (and I assume that a lot of people in academia must have the same problem).
I’m currently in the third year of my PhD and doing a medium-term research stay in Norway. Not understanding most of what is said around me makes everyday life more difficult and also somewhat more lonely (even though most people do speak English in Norway, so I am able to get by). Moreover, I feel that I really miss out by not learning the language while I’m here. But for my job it is not required to know the language, which makes it not immediately necessary.
Thinking about PostDoc options for after my PhD, I don’t want to limit myself to only English/German speaking countries. However, I hesitate to take a longer position, knowing that I might not be able/willing to learn the language. Knowing that I will always force people around me to either be impolite or to not speak in their native language.
If an academic doesn't learn languages easily apply only to jobs in countries where s/he already speaks the local language?
I’m specifically posting this here as opposed to some language forum. I’m interested in how other people in a similar position deal with this situation. I'm aware that it is in theory of course possible to learn every language but I'm interested in in opinions and experiences from real life.