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I think you're doing great already! I went to Poland for my exchange semester at school, and being a native Russian speaker, I somehow thought I,d be able to pick up the language really fast so I didn't bother learning much apart from the tourist book sentences before I moved.


Because it meant I didn't have basic skills and I could not make proper Polish friends :( I had classes at university and went to weekly language exchange groups and only started to have a decent conversational level towards the end.

At that point, we had a drunken night with a bunch of Polish people and I swear I never improved so much as during that single night out. Because I could understand and maintain basic conversation and it was all effortless and fun! I realized that once you have enough to maintain to most basic of conversation, your rate of improvement increases exponentially! If only I had bothered to learn a bit before I left, I'm pretty sure I would have become almost fluent by the end of my 5 months stay there :( Huge regret.

Basically, just learn as much stupid scholarly classes as you can (Mike went to the gym. I study literature at university. Next summer, I plan to go work in Asia. etc) enough to understand people talking (watching movies is a great way to test how much you understand in regular speach). After that, it's on you to be sociable because there is no better way to learn than to shoot the shit with friends.