Tuesday, 9 July 2013
Io parlo inglese, but one day I’ll speak Italian
Before we left one of the most common questions people asked me was if I spoke Italian.
I studied Spanish for six years and was fluent enough to read, write and dream in it. I’ve lost most of it at this point. But you know what? I hardly ever spoke it. I didn’t want to say something wrong. You know that thing with perfectionism I have? The reason why I titled this blog Little Miss Imperfect? Yeah. That.
So here I am in a new country, in the early stages of language learning, again struggling with that perfectionism. Worried I’ll sound stupid. Pronounce something wrong. You know, make a mistake. How terrible!
I’m also an introvert.
This doesn’t help in my putting myself out there and trying new things. I hide behind the safety of Nick who can speak for me. When I go out to shop alone I make sure I shop at places where I pick my own items, take them to the register and read the numbers on the screen before I hand over the money. This is silly, because I want to shop at the markets and the cute little stores. That’s the dream after all. But I have to learn how to ask for things in those places and I’m not ready yet.
Even though I love me some introvert time in my life, it’s getting a little too lonely in my world. I don’t know how to make small talk on an elevator or grocery line. Well, who am I kidding? I never made small talk in a line or elevator.
On a more realistic note, I can’t talk to the moms at Lana’s school or Mariah’s dance studio – which means it’s kind of hard to make friends. Introverts like to make friends. Just a few good ones. But I can’t small talk enough to start the process of making a friend. Italian friends that is – we attend an English speaking church where I’ve been meeting some people.
It’s humbling to not know the language spoken all around you. I wonder if I look rude keeping quiet with eyes down, to avoid someone talking to me. It makes me think about how many times I assumed things about someone who didn’t speak perfect English when we were living in America. Who was I to think someone wasn’t intelligent based on how they spoke my language? It was just a communication barrier- not a sign of intelligence.
The plan is for me to start language school after Christmas. Four hours a day for four week sessions. Sounds pretty intense and in some ways I’m dreading it. But my friend Katie reminded me recently that I love learning. Yes. Yes I do. It’s one of my StrengthsFinder strengths afterall. I bet the teacher and learner in me is going to love it. AND once upon a time I was going to be Spanish or an English as a Second Language teacher so maybe I’ve just forgotten how much fun language learning can be? Now if I can just be brave enough to try the language I’m learning this time around….