“I am a language student. I am a Czech person who lives in the UK and studies German and Italian. In English. I also decided to take on Japanese in my second year.”
When I say this to people, some of them think I am nuts. They ask if it’s hard. (It is.) They ask why I don’t study something more useful like economics. They ask why I study foreign languages in a foreign language. They ask and ask and ask and they question my decisions. I can’t blame them – not everyone gets it. But there is a reason why I did this, why I voluntarily chose a life where I will always struggle to find the right word in the right language because there are so many words in so many languages that I could use instead.
To me, studying languages opens up different worlds – worlds I haven’t seen before. This sounds like an awful cliché but it is true. Being fluent in another language gives you a different perspective on life, on everyday situations, on people, on the world. You can become a different person just by switching the language you speak in. I know this because it has happened to me before.
When I was around 12 years old I got an A in English. That doesn’t seem like a big deal but to me it was – I thought to myself: “Maybe I’m good at this.” and this one thought was what led me to where I am now, 8 years later. I started to enjoy having to learn English in school. I started to watch films and series with subtitles, not dubbed. And soon after that I developed a huge passion for the English language and I got better than most of my class quite quickly.
Back then I didn’t understand why I loved English so much. I just knew I did. I was obsessed – I wanted everything to be in English, I wanted to listen to it, speak it, write in it… I wanted to move to an English speaking country (which I did last year). Later on I realized why I felt this way. And it made me want to choose languages as my study path. I loved English because I could be different in it. The way a language works, the way sentences are created – it changes you. It changes the way you speak, you communicate. Many people don’t understand what I mean when I say this but I say it anyway: I like my English self more than my Czech self. And I want to discover as many of my different selfs as I can. Every time I learn a different word, a different language, I get to know myself a little bit better. I not only understand more who I am as a person, I also understand who I want to be. Languages give me a chance to constantly improve myself; they challenge me not only on an intellectual level but also on a personal one. And that is why I decided to dedicate my university studies (and my life, let’s be honest) to studying languages. Who knows, maybe I’ll really find myself in the Japanese language?