The woman is speaking fast in Spanish, and I manage to understand a few words and sentences here and there, even reply… However, still not able to grasp the whole meaning of the conversation, since it is very important to me, and vocabulary seems to be rather for an advanced speaker. “Where is the interpreter?” I manage to say. And then I hear “You have Masters in Modern Languages” said in Spanish. At this point I do not know whether to laugh or cry… How do I respond to ignorance?
I was about ten, going home after my first class of Belarusian language, walking by flowers saying “kvetki, kvetki” meaning “flowers” in English, very content about starting to learn my native language and culture, even though there were just a few classes a week. While Belarusian never became my first language and the language I speak in my everyday life, I do respect those rather few Belarusians who actually do.
A year later or so I started to learn English, and about the first time I traveled to Italy. The travels that changed my life completely. I fell absolutely in love with this sunny country, its immense culture, colorful nature and melodic language. The place where every word seemed like music and poetry, and life itself seemed like Art. The place that truly felt like Home.
I started learning Italian on my own. A few pieces of paper with the most common words and expressions I managed to learn before my first trip, without ever hearing it from a native speaker (except, probably, a few Italian songs I overheard somewhere on the radio). And my first trips to Italy made it very evident and clear to me. This was it. My language. My heart and soul.
No wonder why I rebelled when I was assigned to a French group at the University, which for some reason was automatically assigned to most students who didn’t particularly care. No wonder I did everything in my power and even beyond in order to be reassigned to where I felt I truly belonged, by choosing a language I actually wanted to study, Italian. With my knowledge of “Je m’appelle Nadin. Je sues de Minsk”, or what I learned in one class, it felt like my heart and soul were flying, as I was almost running on my way to my first Italian class. Even more content to be able to say “Ciao. Mi chiamo Nadia”.
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