Nearly 75% of my relatives are fluent in Spanish, some of which Spanish is their first language (like in the case of my dad), and I felt inadequate, in a way, for not being bilingual. Growing up surrounded by it, I could almost completely understand it, but when it came to a response, I turned to English. My Spanish-speaking skills were nowhere near my comprehension and I, quite frankly, felt embarrassed about the possibility of making a mistake. So, I studied it in middle school and high school and then decided to continue into my college career with intentions of one day being able to fluently communicate.
Then I decided I also wanted to study French. As you know, I hosted a French exchange student in high school and we became the best of friends. I'd overhear her talking on the phone to her family, watch over her shoulder as she wrote her friends e-mails, and fell in love with yet another romance language. I'd already been so fascinated with the country and it's culture that it seemed quite fitting that I delve deeper into French language study. What better way to familiar myself with everything that my best friend knew? I even thought it'd help me miss her less when she went home.
A different language is a different vision of life." (Federico Fellini)
In my first semester at SU, I registered for both a French, and a Spanish class. I do not have a gift for learning languages, quite the opposite in fact, it was beyond difficult for me; I would get mixed up quite often, but my passion kept me focused. By the time the second semester came around, I knew that I wanted to be fluent in both Spanish and French. My language insecurities had me excel in all areas except for speaking, yet I knew that there was one way that I could reach my trilingual dream... by studying abroad for one semester in a Spanish-speaking country and another in a French-speaking country. I soon made a course and requirement plan, making sure that I could graduate on time while still being able to take my year-long language and cultural challenge.
When the time came for me to take the leap of faith and put myself in a vulnerable position in a unfamiliar place with strangers, I could not even describe the way I felt. My friends and family called me "brave, fearless, independent" they asked me if I was "excited," they told me it would be the "experience of a lifetime." I had wanted this, I had been waiting for this, for so long and yet...
Word by Danielle E. Alvarez, Photos by Kate O.
*I took the plunge! Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Danielle052988