I always wanted to learn Italian, but never got around to signing up for classes. It would have helped when I had first arrived in Rome. My Spanish background didn’t suffice, and my listening skills weren’t great. So many times a commotion has occurred or an unknown question is asked, with all of it in a foreign language. Not knowing what's going on because you don’t speak the language is frustrating to say the least.
Thankfully, with orientation at first, I had time before my classes had started so that I could change in. Some friends were talking at the entrance of my school about it, and I also mentioned a small desire to take it. They were both entrolled and encouraged me to also. The next day I was sitting through the first lesson at 5:15 P.M.
The length of the class was bad sometimes. In total, it was an 8 credit course, so we had to meet for 8 hours a week. We would get very antsy to have breaks a few times per class in order to keep our focus.
The first day when my teacher switched to speaking only in Italian, I was so scared. I didn’t understand a thing she said. Then, we began to learn the basics, how to say ‘my name is Anastasia’ or ‘I live in Rome’. From there we learned to conjugate a great deal of verbs, where I can see that it can be similar to Spanish, but also it's still so different.
Because I know Spanish, many people bring up the fact that Italian and Spanish are very similar languages. In this way, my knowledge of Spanish should help me in learning italian. However, an Italian friend shared with me that this statement even bothers Italians because they are essentially very different languages. My Italian teacher added that it’s punctually closer to French. I believe that the accent and the conjugation can be similar, but there are many sounds that I have never had to utilize in Spanish that are present in Italian.
I have been trying to practice Italian a great deal to get the most out of my class. I will always order food in Italian or try to ask someone a basic question in Italian. The other day, I went to the phone store and spoke in Italian. It's very much a mental thing, because once you start speaking, you really have to follow through. Italian people can obviously tell that I’m not a native speaker, but the fact that I tried, even when I make mistakes, is rewarding.
Alternatively, I am scared that I will go home and lose the language. My friend from Michigan that’s minoring in Italian shared that the department has coffee chats with the Italian Professors during the year. I’m very interested in it because I would love to hold onto Italian as a language. I’ve also learned that reading a book I know the plot of in a different language helps with reading comprehension. Consequently, I recently have started reading Call Me By Your Name in Italian. I do sometimes have no idea what's going on, but sometimes I do!
Still, as a native English and Spanish speaker, I secretly look forward to speaking English or Spanish instead of Italian. I love learning the language, but sometimes it's easier when I just communicate to the best of my ability without thinking twice. I’m glad that I’ve gone out of my comfort zone to try a new language. It’s scary, yet so exciting!
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<p>Anastasia Hernando is a student at the University of Michigan, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Entrepreneurship. She is currently working on writing her Political Science thesis on labor rights of the textile industry. Her passion for human rights motivates her to learn more about government and philosophy while studying abroad in Rome, Italy during Spring 2022. Additionally, her interest in social media and business excite her about her opportunity to share her experiences as a IDEA Correspondent.</p>