Life in More Than One Language

I’m fascinated by the way the mind works.  One thing that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about over the past few years has been the way the brain develops a second language, or third, or fourth even. Being able to think, speak, read, and write in another language than your original, at least for me, makes me feel as though I’m transported into another means of existence.  I like the way I can physically be in the same world, same place, yet my mind is working in a different location. When I moved to Switzerland in middle school, my international school required that all of the students in 7th grade or older take not only French, the local language, but also Spanish or German.  I remember the panic that had risen in my throat at the time– how could they expect me to take both?!  I didn’t know much more than a word of either. IMG_8419

I remember feeling trapped, my eyes glazing over as I stared at the French text or made strained efforts to listen to the teacher speaking Spanish before me.  I constantly mixed up the words, often using a French conjugation in Spanish class or a Spanish verb during French.  My brain was a mixed up mess, the knots of words tangled up in every which way.

For that year I hated going to language classes, my heart racing and my stomach churning each time I was called on to speak in my awful American accent.  I remember receiving C’s in both classes, disappointment flooding my veins. With time, things changed.  My brain moved a little quicker with each passing week, allowing my confidence to slowly grow.  With more exposure, the pieces of the puzzles started to click.  I started to take an interest in the way that language was like a game… that conjugating could be fun, as long as I fell into the pattern.  My brain finally built the divider that it needed between French and Spanish, each language existing in its own labeled file in my mind.  I only pulled out Spanish during Spanish class and French during French class (or when out and about in Switzerland). Today I’m nearly fluent in Spanish.  My listening skills have improved vastly, and I feel as though I can pull out words without too much additional thought.  My French is still decent, although I no longer take it in college.  I’ve even tried to teach myself some Portuguese, something that comes easily because of my knowledge of other romance languages. So what am I getting at here?  That learning another language is a challenge, but it can be exciting.  It requires patience, time, and dedication (or perhaps being forced by your crazy international school in Europe).  I learned how each language is unique and set up differently.  English and French can’t always be directly translated, and that’s part of the fun: finding your own way to convey similar messages through different systems of communication. Learning other languages makes my mind feel flexible.  Thinking in Spanish during certain moments throughout the day adds another dimension of color to my life, even if only I can feel it.  Not to mention, I’m excited to eventually go on a term abroad to South America, where I will be able to actually communicate with others in this language. Learn another language– it’s one of the best things you can do for your brain, or at least, in my opinion.

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Free Form Poem

I hate the chaos in some ways

But If I’m honest, I know there’s more to it

Some of us crave the drama

The lights flashing in our eyes

We hate the pain that dwindles through our veins

But we love the the scenes we can paint

The imagery, the vivid and vibrant colors that surround us

I hate the obsessive-compulsive cycles

I hate the darker days of depression

But I love the highs, the natural highs that my mind can produce

I fear, I tremble at the thought

Of medication reducing this

Reducing the positive aspect of living in a disordered mind

They say I think too much

Thinking too much about thinking

Think think think think

I wish my mind didn’t get stuck on the same OCD track so often

But I’m happy to say

That I’ve felt the euphoric moments that not everyone gets

In a natural way

I’m scared; I’m scared for it to go away

Scared in a strange way, of the idea of being

“Totally okay”

But I know it’s better than what I’ve experienced in the past

Moments bleeding one into the other,

Living in a darkened abyss

Now my world is colored with pastels–

Not too blinding, yet beautiful all the same

My Love Story With… Running.

So, this isn’t your typical human to human love story (sorry to disappoint), but here goes:  Once upon a time, Fall of 2010, a sixteen-year-old girl fell in love with a sport.  She fell in love with the way her cushioned sneakers felt on her feet.  She fell in love with the XC team’s fun and excitable atmosphere that Running had introduced her to.  She fell in love with the way nature seemed so much brighter, the way even the WORLD seemed happier, when she ran through the trees.  She fell in love with numbers, and the way they validated her worth.  The way the miles and speed increased, and with that, so did the calories burned.  But most of all, she fell in love with the way that Running would let her control it, manipulate it to her desired speed and distance.  What she didn’t know at the time, even for the years to follow, was that it, Running, was slowly but surely beginning to control her.  And that’s where the love began to trickle into something more dangerous, more potent.  When the numbers were no longer enough and the injuries rushed to her side, one after the other, the wearing down of bones and pulling of muscles and obsessive thoughts.  Running shot a mile away from the girl as her injuries no longer allowed her to be with it.  Without a healthy body, Running had decided to leave the girl, and would only return once she was physically able again.  Running may have started the mess, but after the way the girl had treated it, it started to retreat too.  This isn’t a story of a victim and an evil monster, but rather the tale of a relationship where two players were equally at fault for the turmoil that came at the end.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

WOW, super happy way to start Valentine’s Day weekend, am I right?? **sarcasm attempt** But, here IS the happy part: that girl, the one in the story, is no longer relying on Running for her happiness.  They’ve become friends again recently, but they respect each other’s boundaries.  She knows she doesn’t need it to make her life worth experiencing to the fullest.  She plans to spend this Valentine’s day loving herself instead.