Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Spanish 101

Arriving in Santander, Cantabria, Spain
Traveling has been incorporated in many of my decisions as it is one of the most influencial aspects of my development. Even still, until recently, I never made the commitment to learn a new language. I knew that understanding language would make my travel experiences richer, but I allowed myself to be overwhelmed by the thought of learning to communicate in a new way instead of being inspired by it.

In both my personal and professional life I am a communicator. I pride myself on using words to express sentiment, provide others with an experience, and build connectivity. It has taken years to develop my vocabulary and voice in the only language I know. Learning a new language would require that I take the one thing I excel in most and release it. Learning a new language would force me to let go of a major part of my identity. Yet if I wanted to grow, I needed to release what was familiar and take on a new and richer identity.

This year I decided to do more than add stamps and pages to my passport. I decided to experience a culture through more than its cuisine and famous landmarks. The best way to ensure that I would grow was to travel in a new way. It was time to invest in studying language. I began taking Spanish classes in January and making the commitment to learn Spanish has not only started to add a language dimension to my life, but it also provided me with another opportunity to do what I love—travel—as I just finished a two-week language and culture class at the University of Cantabria in Santander, Spain.

Everything we are attached to and depend on provides comfort. When we force ourselves to grow, we force ourselves out of familiarity. Growth lessens attachments and dependencies. Growth demands reflection and innovation. Growth also requires taking risks of feeling foolish and failing. While in my Spanish classes and out enjoying Spain, I have had many moments where I had to release my attachments and dependencies. My strength—being able to communicate—was gone. Suddenly, I only had the vocabulary of a six-year-old. It has been humbling and frustrating. However, it has also been amazingly wonderful. I challenge you to force yourself to grow. Let go of your attachments and dependencies. Learn something new. My lessons took me to Spain. Where will your lessons take you?

Visit the photo album from my trip!

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