Since I've arrived in France, I've made every effort to communicate with the French. The language barrier was very hard for me in Austria, and I felt very much like an outsider. I could tell when a restaurant owner grew frustrated with me and I didn't even know how to apologize for not understanding him. But in Paris, I've been able to introduce myself, strike up a conversation and even dive into a rather intricate discussion. I've talked about my tattoos, discussed President Obama, and even asked people what they think of America. Sometimes it gets me into trouble, but we can usually come to some sort of agreement that not all Americans agree with the war and the world-wide destruction our country is causing on a daily basis.
But because I can communicate here, I can make it known I'm not just a loud tourist, drinking at the cafes with my friends. The French are able to see I am a student, diligent in my studies, and willing to learn about the culture. And while the men here are much more forward with females than in the US I've been able to handle myself. And in Austria, if the men had been the same way, it would have been much harder to do. I love being able to understand other people and hear their thoughts on the world and the latest news.
On the buses, the metro, and in the streets I pick up little tidbits of conversations, and while I don't always understand the idiomatic and slang phrases, I can get the jist of the conversation and be able to form my own conclusions. Yesterday I heard a bunch of Italian women speaking at the bus stop, and all I wanted to do was enter the conversation and see what they were talking about. I'm sure some of it was about me, because I saw four or five of them looking at me and then talking. Whatever. Let them talk. Either way, I was inspired to further my knowledge of languages.
The past few months, after working at Ponce Middle, I wanted to learn Spanish so I could communicate with my Hispanic students in the future, but now moreso than ever I want to study Spanish, and Italian so I can travel to these countries and understand the people. German isn't as beautiful, but I'm confident that if I study hard enough the language itself won't be that hard to learn.
I try to live my life through understanding other people, and if I can't communicate with them or don't follow what they say, then I miss a large amount of their being. Something else to add to my life's goals.