Thoughts on Becoming Bilingual

Here I am in Bogota, Colombia studying Spanish. I arrived on April 1, 2017 and have officially finished 3 weeks of my Spanish course. I went from understanding a few words here and there to now being able to hold a conversation in Spanish. For me, this is an odd sensation.

Becoming bilingual has been a dream of mine for quite some time. However, I have never taken it serious until now. In the past I, have studied German, Italian, and Arabic. But, I have never been proficient enough to use the language with natives.

In Bogota, it is estimated that around 40% of the population does not speak English. Those that do speak English are not fluent. For me, this has been quite beneficial because as an avid traveler, I have learned only rely on English as my language of communication.

Not being able to speak English with the general population has forced me to use Spanish. Because of this, I have easily overcome the usual “shy” factor and “fear” of butchering the language.

The people of Bogota have been very kind, helpful, and especially understanding when I attempt to speak with them. People do not laugh or mock me when I make mistakes, rather they correct me and help me learn the proper Spanish.

Over all, after 1 month in this beautiful country, I feel like my Spanish is improving faster than I could have ever imagined. I can speak with confidence and get my point across. After 1 month… I am becoming bilingual. I cannot wait to see my progress in 6 months’ time.

 

Soon, I will begin posting my blogs in both English and Spanish.

 

 

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The Adventure: New Beginnings

My adventure began when I was born in May of 1991. I was born in Canada to parents from the United States and have been on the move ever since. I have been infected with the travel bug from a very young age and have been driven to see the world ever since. Whether it been inside the United States or Canada or around the globe internationally, I have been traveling for 25 years.

The adventure that I am going to tell my readers about here is one that began in January of 2012. It all started when I visited my parents in Cairo, Egypt. My first trip to Cairo was in late December 2011 and early 2012. I spent three weeks with my parents while they searched for a new home as my father was beginning a new job assignment. Egypt was an interesting experience for me. It was the first time to visit Africa and it was the first time to be in an Islamic country. Egypt intrigued me. It was a vast contrast to the lifestyle I was accustomed to living in the “West”.

Cairo is a governorate that is home to the country’s capital city Cairo. It is home to more than 20 million residents who live, work, and commute. Cairo opened my eyes. It opened my eyes to absolute poverty, to slums, to Islam. It changed my worldview on refugees, on Muslims, and on humanitarian aid. Cairo is a city filled to the brim with history and culture, yet it is also filled with dirt, filth, and corruption. There are over 57 slums located in Cairo itself, there are buildings unfinished, shelled out and burned. Remnants from the 2011 revolution can be seen at Tahrir Square. Ancient monuments of the Pharaohs litter Cairo as well as more modern monuments such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. On one hand you can see the ingenuity of ancient engineering and on the other you can see the shabby brick and mortar buildings barely being held together. The Citadel in Old Cairo imposes itself on the vast city beneath the hill, while the Pyramids of Giza dominate the Plateau’s skyline.

Something about this city called to me. The culture, the difference from western society, something about it; it was special- It was unique. I returned home to Texas in January of 2012 and all I could think about was returning to Cairo. I had to start my final year at the University of North Texas where I studied History. However, I decided at the last minute to change my major to International Relations. My journey into the international lifestyle was just beginning. I could not see myself studying in the US anymore; I could not see a future living anywhere in the States. It was my goal, my dream to leave- to be a global citizen.

Upon my second visit to Cairo, I toured The American University in Cairo. I fell in love with the campus. It was almost magical. The architecture, the gardens, the 17 fountains that lay throughout the grounds. It was beautiful. An oasis of tranquility in the vast desert of bleakness. As it turns out, I was accepted to study Political Science in January 2013 and while I faced many trials and tribulations with the university administration, I would not change anything. I learned a great deal about myself, Egypt, and the Middle East while at AUC.

In the subsequent posts, I will tell my story. My story living in a Muslim country, studying abroad, traveling through Europe, and even being evacuated back to the United States due to political unrest and revolutions. I will tell my stories from the past couple years as well as my ongoing adventure living in China teaching English. Life is a journey worth taking. Live and let live, take that step into the unknown and see where life takes you. Join me on my journey and see where the adventure goes. As I tell my story and share my advice, I hope you will share your stories with me. I would love to post stories of your trials, your successes, and failures. Tell me your experiences living, traveling, or studying abroad. I look forward to hearing from you along the way!