three months have really just flown past, and now i have with me a crummy certificate telling me that i have ‘graduated’ from the beginner Italian class from my language school, along with a handful of broken italian phrases and a genuine steely determination to speak better italian. =)
i think learning a language is so essentially to understanding another person’s culture, because you start to understand how people think and how they process information. case in point, i was casually commenting to my colleague how i found it interesting they essentially said “take a coffee” and “make a break” because essentially thats how its translated in italian.
language is so powerful because it constrains how one can express oneself — its like how in japanese one becomes ultra polite and starts learning all about kinship and “amae“, or the feeling of contentment one gets when he feels like he is exactly where he needs to be in life. i think in an american context the term would be “underachieving” or “easily contented“.
some other interesting titbits from my 3 months of language course:
– my sis mentioned how certain words are hyper-conscious within one’s culture, citing examples of like freedom and self-expression in an American context. in italy, i seem to be bombarded with words of “lavoro” (work) and “sciopero” (strike), which is a scary reflection of the current sentiments in Italy where unemployment is sky high. and coincidentally, there seems to be a sciopero planned tomorrow. -_-
– ya know how its wierd when you start frequenting a new place because of class and you tell yourself you will start exploring the nearby area after lessons and find some nice food but it somehow never works out? well, true enough, i ended up rushing home everytime after class to eat near my place and it was only today that i chanced upon a (finally!) healthy salads, sandwiches and fruit juice bar that doesn’t burn a whole through my wallet!
called Fa-Bio, it’s at Via Germanico 43 and sandwiches go for 4 euroes whilst fresh fruit juices go for 2.50 euroes! and what’s cool is that whilst i was there, there was a english-speaking tour guide chattering excitedly to the server (i think tour-guides frequented areas counts as a badge of good-food in its own right) and i was soon involved in the discussion as well, talking about.. well.. how rome is like. =) its gonna be such a waste that i won’t be heading back to the area that often anymore. =(
– and incidentally, the discussion was about the difficulties living in Rome. simply put it, my best advice to expats coming to Rome?
learn. the frigging. language.
then go make italian friends and see all the doors unlock for you. rome doesn’t work by accessing online blogs and recommendations (despite me wishing it would be) but rather through recommendations of friends who frequent so-and-so’s store and knows so-and-so.
yup. that’s the way it works.