A close AmeriCorps friend from college once said to me, “I chose it [Alaska] because I knew it would be difficult and I knew I would be uncomfortable at first, but if I’m not uncomfortable, I’m not growing.”
Last night, I attended a conversation meetup at my old language school in Logan Square. It felt maravilloso to speak Spanish again! I felt myself grow more confident with each sentence and really enjoyed the other students. It was also a great reminder that you have to push yourself and more importantly, put yourself in seemingly uncomfortable situations in order to grow and improve as a person.
I love Spanish. I love all Latin cultures, actually – European and American. But more than that, I love languages in general. If I could give myself any super power, it would be to be a polyglot.
Thus begins the third part of my slogan:
“Glossophilia is a love of language, either foreign or native. The term refers to people with a love for language and the structure of language. Glossophiles also dedicate themselves to the learning of foreign languages and intensely study as many languages as possible.”
I was lucky enough to start foreign language training when I was in 5th grade, something rare in the U.S., but have yet to reach a level of fluency I would be proud of. In America, it can definitely be an English desert if you want it to be. We’re not forced to speak anything else and we’re such a large country, that you have to be on a border to even be fully aware that there is another country, with another language just over yonder, so yes, the traffic signs and currency will be different. Where a Frenchman can drive 3-4 hours and be eating pasta in Italy and parla italiano, or being skiing in Switzerland and spricht Deutsch, I can drive 4 hours from Chicago and go to Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota, all states that predominantly speak English. Again, there are a lot of immigrants in the major metropolitan areas, but you will never get the full “immersion” experience if you live in and are surrounded my English speaking regions (And yes, I’m counting Canada there).
So what to do then?
I have always been jealous of my peers who grew up in a bilingual household. Their conversation skills just seemed to flow so instinctively, like there was a whole other secret society I was not privy to, but wanted so desperately to be a part of. I had to study more and try harder to find people to practice with, but I loved it. Self-discipline really is the key to learning any new skill.
I’ve studied Spanish for over 10 years, Italian for over 2 years and briefly attempted Polish one summer. I love all of them. I would love to try Turkish, Farsi, Portuguese, Russian…and the list would go on and on. Sadly, though I pick up on foreign languages more easily than the average person, I have neither the time nor resources to fully commit to all of my aspirations. It’s always better to pick one rather than spread yourself too thin, right?
So for now, sólo español.
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*Some food for thought for those other glossophiles out there when choosing a new language to try: