#057 - DUMBER BY THE MINUTE
I finally came to this conclusion this past summer after a trip to Europe. I've been travelling a fair bit this past decade and I've become accustomed to hearing chatter in the backgroud that I just don't understand. It comforts me. It comforts me because it's proof that there is diversity; that there is a truly interesting world out there full of many and varied people.
It occurs to me that when I go on vacation, I'm not truly happy unless I am struggling, in some small way, with the language or the culture or the food, or something... I'm not looking for major hassles - I have no interest in accidentally running afoul of the law and spending a year in a third world jail. It's just that if life on vacation is too smooth, it's just not that different from being at home. I need a trip to the store to pick up food on vacation to be different than a trip to the store to pick up food where I live. That's what makes it a vacation.
Many things can be different while travelling the world, but language is the most obvious. I have a few years of public and high school French under my belt, but the belt was a lot smaller then, some 30-plus years ago. So, while I think Swedish is one of the coolest languages I've heard, I really think I should brush up on my French. And by "brush up", I mean "learn". At least I have a head start there.
Last weekend, while visiting La Belle Province of Quebec, I ran into someone who offered to help me with French if I needed it. She spoke French. And English. And Spanish. And some Flemish. I felt dumb. And dumber with each passing minute.
I suppose I could blame my parents, or, more precisely, the environment in which my parents happened to live when they raised me. It's not their fault that we lived in a monolingual area of Canada. I mean, most people in Canada do. I had no need of other languages, except to pass a few courses at school.
I feel now that I missed out. Listening to people who are comfortable in multiple languages makes me jealous.
I think I will try to fix this...
08 September 2010