Students of foreign languages sometimes get upset when they get frustrated. They get really frustrated and really upset because what they want most is to speak a foreign language, they've done their homework, they've studied, and somehow the pieces just don't fit together or the pieces they want don't come together when they speak.
It's a hard-core experience.
Some students think I learned German easily because I learned it quickly--it was not easy and my German skills were and are hard-won with hundreds and thousands of hours of listening, reading, and practice behind them; here's a short story to highlight one of my hardest moments.
In 2004, when I lived in Germany and was already fluent (and already spoke Schwäbisch), I went camping on the beautiful island of Rügen, in the far north-east corner of Germany. It's stunningly beautiful up there, the natural landscape undisturbed by "modern" development, with slow, rolling hills and the houses have thatched roofs. One morning it was my turn to go get rolls for breakfast so I hopped on my bike and rode through the campground to the small outdoor building where a local baker was selling bread and pastries. I asked for what I wanted, but had literally no idea what the saleswoman was trying to tell me.