Since I am officially on Christmas break for two weeks starting today and since I am stuck in Laval until the 23rd, I decided to finally pursue one of the many goals that I’ve laid out for myself while I am abroad: learning a new language.
I love French. French will always be my second language and my love, but I have had a strong desire to learn a third language, especially one that I find as intriguing as German. Today, I embarked on a walk to the city center just to be out and about, and there it was: the bookstore, beckoning me, calling my name, much as it always does. I promised myself that I was just going to look and that I wasn’t going to buy anything, because after all, I really don’t need any books (actually scratch that, as a bookworm, I can never have enough books), but as I was browsing, I came across the language section. In the passion of the moment, I did it. I picked up a beginner’s German book, or two, and I didn’t even think twice about it. I was going to buy those books. I wasn’t even going to give myself enough time to second guess my decision. I was going to buy those books.
So, I left the bookstore, books in tow, with nothing but an everlasting grin on my face.
You may be asking why I’ve chosen German and not Spanish. That, my friends, is a very good question. Simply, it sounds more intriguing to me, and honestly, I think Spanish will be the fourth language I learn (I had to hold myself back from buying beginner Spanish books too). I also love Germany and would like to someday travel throughout more of Germany and to Austria. I do not feel as though this will be my last time in Europe, so, I felt that learning German is not only something that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile but think will be very useful in my travels to come.
So, today, I started. I spent two hours learning the alphabet and learning how to pronounce it, using the books I bought and videos on YouTube. My mouth hurts. My brain hurts, but I am satisfied. I haven’t felt this challenged with a language in a very long time. Of course I still have moments where I struggle with French. Of course I still have moments when I say things incorrectly in French, but challenging my mind in such this way, doing something that I’m passionate about (learning languages) brings me so much joy, and I haven’t done it in a long time. So, the fatigue and the pain is more than worth it.
Taking on this new project, I’ve reflected on what this decision means for my life and how I’ve come to understand it. Here are my conclusions:
- You never stop learning, no matter how old you are or what you do with your life.
- You are in control of your personal learning. I’ve heard many people tell me: “Oh you speak another language?! That’s so cool! I wish I spoke another language. That would be amazing.” I’m glad you are impressed by me, and I encourage you to learn another language. However, if you really mean what you say, then you should decide to do it, and you have to decide to do the work. It’s never just going to happen. My brain hurts, and it will continue to hurt for many years to come, especially if I end up learning Spanish, too.
- This line of thinking doesn’t only apply to learning another language but also to almost anything in life. I did something today that I haven’t done in a very long time: scoured endless pins on Pinterest. Pinterest is both great and terrible. It’s great because there are many good ideas that you can use for your own life, but it’s terrible because it makes you envious of others. Despite both of those things, it makes you realize some of the things you are passionate about and what you might want to do with your life. Instead of letting it get you down, admiring the lives of other people, start doing the things you want to try or to make a living out of or learn. I started journaling when I was in college, and I fell in love with writing, with telling a story. At the time, I was only telling my story to myself, but I adore this concept. So, that’s why I’ve decided to really pursue writing and becoming better at it. This blog is not only to share what I’ve been up to with everyone back home, but this blog is my sketchbook, my rough draft that I personally get to critique and analyze myself on my writing. I’ve also come to start writing poetry on the side, feeling that poetry is such a powerful form of literature. I would not claim to be a good writer, but I would claim that I’m getting better and that I’m a decent writer. I want to pursue writing, mostly poetry and creative non-fiction, as a side career eventually. Now is the time to practice and start making stuff happen.
- When you learn a new language, you open yourself up to learning about a whole new world and its people, to becoming more open-minded, to gaining the ability to travel to places where you can understand that language, and to have conversations with friends in their native language (I have 2 German friends and an Austrian friend).
- Having all of this free time has given me the opportunity to experiment with different hobbies, and even if you don’t have a lot of free time, you can do the same. It just takes a little bit every day. I don’t want to continue to succumb to the constant attention that I give to Facebook, Netflix, and Instagram. As much as I love those things, none of those things are really helping me to advance as a person and to advance my intelligence and my mind. I’m forcing myself to study, to read, and to write.
- My mind will thank me. As I become older, my mind will start to deteriorate, just like everyone’s else. However, it has actually been proven that those whom study and practice another language are less likely to get Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Living in France, speaking another language, traveling, and meeting new people from different countries has inspired me to be the best version of myself that I can be and to learn more about the world. I hope that my stories have done the same for you, and I just wanted to thank all of my readers for taking the time to read through my sometimes crazy and confusing life stories. It brings me so much joy, and I encourage you to get out there and do something that you love, even if you don’t feel that you have the time or that you aren’t any good at it or that you aren’t up to it. Do it anyways.
For the next few days, I’m just going to hang out in Laval, and then I’m headed to Nantes for Christmas. I’ll look forward to sharing all of that with all of you soon. Until then….
A plus mes amis….