I've casually mentioned a few times here that I'm trying to learn French. So far, it's a slow process, though I can guarantee you I am fluent in all the pastry names. I know I can do better, so I've decided to focus on this goal and make it happen. Easier said than done, right?
I'll be documenting my progress here, starting with what keeps me motivated. In my opinion, language is the best way to really get to know another culture: many things -- books, movies, humor -- just aren't the same in translation. Learning another language challenges me to think about the world from a different perspective, and even when I'm not traveling, it can transport me to another mindset.
"A different language is a different vision of life." - Federico Fellini
I discovered my passion for foreign languages when I learned my first second language: Italian. After taking Italian language and literature classes, I made one of the best decisions of my time at university and studied abroad in Florence. My particular exchange program forced me to live and breathe Italian: I took classes in Italian, lived with an Italian family and even signed a contract not to speak in English at home/school unless it was absolutely necessary! Though at times I felt way out of my comfort zone (it was, after all, my first time outside of North America), having a strong command of the language made my experience so much richer: I felt less like a tourist and more equipped to explore new places and aspects of the city's history and culture. Florence will forever hold a piece of my heart. I frequently daydream about my favorite gelaterias and cobblestone streets, and before I know it, I'm on Venere searching for hotels...
Someday I want to experience Paris the way I experienced Florence: not just as a tourist with a bonafide Parisian tour guide (merci, Mr. E) but as someone who gets swept up in the city's culture. Learning French is the key. It's a lot harder to learn a language without being immersed in it, and it's a lot harder to stick to it without the pressures of deadlines and exams. But I have a few useful resources, which I will share with you in the next language-learning post!
Do you speak another language, or are you trying to learn one?