Been thinking about picking up a new language? Or perhaps you’re like me and when you meet someone who speaks more than just English you are blown away and immediately download a new free language set from Duolingo… anybody, anybody?
What’s so cool about knowing more than your native language is this: your world expands.
Relationships become possible that before were just not.
The summer before my junior year of highschool, I went to Paris with a group of classmates on an academic trip. We spent the first couple days in “the city of light” having a blast. But we spoke only English to each other, and didn’t see as much of the need to engage with locals because we had each other right? (in retrospect: so stupid).
We then trained to Cannes (yep where the film festival is every May!) to spend two weeks with our host families (Salut Anaïs! Je rêve encore des plages de Cannes et le jour nous sommes allés à la compétition de saut à cheval ! C’etait tres cool!) and that’s when I really got the full experience. Not just because I was staying with a kind French family, but because I had no choice but to speak their language. When you put yourself out there, your relationships get stronger (Boss Girl Jordan Bone embodied that showing vulnerability is actually a sign of strength).
Yes the first couple hours–immersed in a new town without my classmates–were hard, dare I say emotional (mostly from travel exhaustion because the train stopped for a herd of sheep), but by Day 14 I did not want to leave in the slightest.
I remember walking through the open air market on the cobblestone streets, as Anaïs’s mom picked out baguettes for dinner and I picked out a miniature chocolate ganache cake for dessert… her dad ate it that night not realizing it was mine haha! Turns out delicious chocolate cake is loved by everyone 😉
I remember sitting on the beach whispering with her friends about the cute boys we’d seen (we were 16, we couldn’t help it!)
I remember waking up drenched in our tent in the foothills of southern France after a record-breaking rainstorm, and us laughing (but also freezing!) the entire car ride home.
I wouldn’t have had these wonderful experiences of cultural exchange and sharing of human-connectedness in another country if:
A) I hadn’t taken French &
B) if I hadn’t said HECK YES! to this foreign exchange opportunity.
So I guess my point here is two-fold:
1) learn a language outside of English
2) when something comes up that gets your mind ticking but also makes you a little nervous, ask yourself “Why the heck not?!” Ask yourself “What can I do to make this thing possible?”
So to give you some dual-language inspiration here are 5 celebrities you didn’t know spoke other languages (and pretty darn well to boot!). I mean really, Sandra Bullock speaking German is amazeballs.
p.s. I still keep in touch with Anaïs. In fact, a year later she came to visit me in St. Louis, MO (not as glamorous as Cannes, France, but I think we showed her a good time!). Her visit was not part of some foreign exchange program, we just wanted to see each other and share our lives. Today, I’ve graduated NYU and she’s in her 3rd year (of 8!) at University de Lyon for law. Next time I’m in France, you can bet I’m making a train trip to see her.
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