There are pros and cons to not being a native speaker.
Sometimes it’s very frustrating. It often seems like it is the most important part of the information that I don’t quite catch.
This morning, for example, I ended up getting the late earlier train. (It was 9 minutes late, and they’re every 10 minutes.)
Shortly before the train arrived there was an announcement stating that the train was late and explaining why. I understood the statement, but not the explanation…
When I got on the train and found my seat I ended up near a talker… Now, I’m a shy person and not fond of chatting with strangers.
This is where it is good to not be a native. It didn’t take long for her to notice that Finnish isn’t my mother tongue, which gave me a ready built excuse for my short answers.
(Actually she was very nice. She started the conversation by saying how clever of me to be wearing a hat. Well… I’m not a Finn, so I’m not immune to the cold… And she asked about my job, and where I’m from, and told me about all the people she knows who have visited England. When I got off the train she wished me a pleasant work day. Very friendly. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m bad at being social…)
I’ve used it (not being a native) to my advantage too when I get phone calls trying to sell me things. If I tell them that I don’t speak Finnish they leave me alone pretty quickly!