Learning languages: The priceless promise of adventure to come
I returned from teaching English in Japan eight years ago.
I’ve dreamed of traveling there with my family. I dream most especially of returning to Hiroshima and watching my young sons place their own paper cranes at an angel’s feet.
My husband would like us to visit Australia, where he and other early castaways were sequestered while fellow Survivor competitors finished up their time on the island.
We’d also like to visit places we’ve never been. Time and money are sparse, so we’ve taken to dreaming now of travel later.
I’ll be traveling internationally again soon. My new job will assign me certain territories, and I’ll periodically visit customers within those territories as part of my job.
Which territories? I have no idea, but I’m thrilled all the same. There are very few parts of the world I don’t want to see, and even seeing for twenty exhausted not-working minutes a day is better than seeing for zero minutes over eight years.
My daily commute will be long. I’ll miss being so near my sons so many hours a day. But I’ll use my commute to study languages, the very thought of which makes me giddy. I’ve ordered a conversational Spanish course already.
Will I be assigned any Spanish-speaking countries? Who knows! Whether or not I speak Spanish on my job, there’s plenty of use for it here in Los Angeles. It’s also about time I made good on my long-ago promise to a dear friend, my Peruvian sister, to learn it.
Best of all is the thrill of possibility. My father studied languages for the military; though he’s no longer in my life, his passion for language and travel made me curious about all the places he’d been. If he could go to Greece and Paraguay and South Korea, why couldn’t I? What would I see when I exchanged poverty with possibility realized?
So I checked out language books and language tapes starting in sixth grade. I studied bits and pieces of dozens of languages as I dreamed of all the places I’d travel someday. I took Russian, Chinese and German in high school, before those languages were sadly cut as non-essential. I added a couple of years of German, two terms of Russian and a little Swahili in college.
That Spanish course is on its way to me now. Outwardly, it looks like an unremarkable $30 collection of a few CDs. It’s so much more.
It’s the priceless promise of adventure to come.