Learning a second language is a story that never ends which is both a beautiful and ominous thing. Some days, you feel like you're the next Einstein with how much language you've managed to cram into your brain and pull out and conjugate all at once. Other days, you stumble over your words, searching like a lost child for a way to say something so darned simple it's infuriating and shameful to say the very least. The dreaded question asked of expats is "so are you fluent yet?". I think this is the dumbest question. If you've moved to a foreign country as an adult and learnt a second language, I just don't think fluency should be the goal. People should ask instead about how you feel about a language. What your relationship with it is because that's what it is, a relationship with highs and lows, good days and bad days. I'm quite the advocate for continuous learning. I meet alot of people who do their few classes, or their study abroad semester, or finish with a language-learning app and they often give themselves a pat on the back and that's where the story stops. It doesn't stop there though, not for me at least. The photographs above are of my little vocabulary book that I carry around with me, filled to the brim with (colmare is the verb in Italian, it's actually written in that book!) words that I had to look up, phrases that struck me and expressions I can never remember. I think this is a great thing to do if you're learning Italian. Every now and then, I flip through the book and see if any of the words I've committed to memory now. I believe Jhumpa Lahiri did the same thing during her year of living in Rome, she claims to have filled notebooks full of words that she wanted to learn. The truth of the matter is, I'll probably never learn 100% of the words in my book but even if I manage a mere 5-10%, that's a nice handful of words that I never knew before- in fact, the second photo is of the first page of my book from years ago and today I now know most of those words.
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(I suggest "Italian Men" or "wine" but that's just me!)
Jasmine is a former pharmacist turned writer and wine drinker from Alberta, Canada living "the sweet life" in Bergamo, Italy.
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