Language Exchange

While I was in Florence, I visited the Galleria degli Uffizi, the Uffizi Gallery. It is completely unlike the Louvre, but has been compared to the Louvre in its importance, so when I went to the gallery at nine o’clock in the morning, I had expected to spend about three hours there. As it turned out, I spent seven hours there: four waiting in line, and three in the gallery itself! It is hugely popular (clearly!), but well worth the wait.

A line this long surely required something to keep me entertained - how about listening to a bunch of languages and other people's life stories? Best idea ever!

Standing in line began to get exhausting pretty quickly, but I entertained myself with people watching. I think it is one of the best ways to learn about another culture, and definitely the easiest! I was amused by the group of Italian school kids in front of me in line – highschoolers are pretty much the same all over the world.

More interesting than the Italians, however, were the two small groups in front of me. About halfway through the time we spent in line the two guys and two girls that were clearly together began a conversation with the three Spanish-speaking girls just behind them. I found out that the group of four were 24-27 year-old Turkish students, studying abroad somewhere (I didn’t catch where) in the EU. The three girls were 22- and 23-year-old Mexicans studying in Paris who spoke really excellent English. I felt rather inferior with my inelegant Spanish!

The group of Turks all spoke English to each other, which I thought was interesting in itself, but then I was also really amazed that this was how the seven of them were able to communicate. They didn’t know each other’s languages, but they were all completely fluent in English. Then to add to the linguistic mix, some of the Italian boys in the group ahead of us began trying to communicate in Italian, and the Mexican girls were able to put a lot of it together because they knew both Spanish and French. How cool – all of this certainly made the four hours in line more interesting!

* * *

If anyone is interested, it looks like there is a London and Paris interterm coming up in January, and please have a chat with Martha Harris if you are interested in Harlaxton or any other study abroad program. It helps so much to plan ahead, so even if it’s a year or two off, get started now to make it fit into your schedule. There are plenty of places to go where you can learn or work on a different language, too – maybe you could be the multilingual one!

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