Opposite Ocean: ‘Of’ means ‘or’ and ‘en’ is no longer ‘in’ but ‘and’
Leah Budke juggles one, two, three languages! She talks about the joys and challenges of such an endeavor.
If the title of this post confused you, then welcome to my confusing little world. During the last half year my brain took a turn down crazy language street and I have been living in a semi-confused state pretty consistently. Most of my friends and family know that I spent a year living in Spain and also have a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. Right after completing my year in Spain, I moved to Belgium and began intensively studying Dutch. It is a requirement to pass the ITNA exam, which demonstrates that you have reached a B2 (intermediate) level in Dutch, in order to be able to study at a Flemish University. My goal was to meet this requirement and then to begin studying at Ghent University in order to attain a master’s degree.
This is not my first experience studying multiple languages, but it is the first time that I’ve attempted to learn a third language so intensely. When I first began the Dutch courses palabras españolas (Spanish words) were escaping my mouth when they weren’t welcome. Now that I am participating in a Spanish course this semester, Nederlandse woorden (Dutch words) are jumping out. I am not the only one studying two additional languages. All of the students are studying two languages. There is a large number of students studying both Spanish and English and I must find some way to convince them to give me their secrets as to how they keep these two languages separate. I even have experiences while reading my native language during which I see a word that I’ve known my entire life in a completely different way.
I know that anyone who has set out to learn a language has to know that it is a never-ending process. There will always be more to learn because language is a constantly changing art. This is something that I love about learning languages because it is a challenge that will never bore me. The most important thing for my own personal learning process is to maintain a positive attitude and to allow myself to learn in a fun and interesting way. I am very happy to be able to understand enough Dutch to enjoy reading or watching the news, reading tweets of Dutch speakers, watching TV or movies, and all other normal life activities. One of my favorite ways to study and maintain my Spanish is to read novels. Spanish flows beautifully in written language as well as in music. I think it’s important to find an activity that is enjoyable to supplement traditional ways of learning languages. Of course, it’s important to learn vocabulary and grammar but perhaps sitting with your nose in the grammar book for hours isn’t the best way to learn. My brain is not a superhero brain, that’s for sure, but I am still pretty happy to be living this experience and to have endless opportunities to learn something new.
Opposite Ocean is a web blog created and maintained by Leah Budke. Leah is a twenty-something American living abroad in Europe with a passion for languages, art, literature, and one special Belgian. She is a university graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish but finds that the drive to learn endures. Follow her as she cycles awkwardly through the streets of Ghent, Belgium, attempts to learn Dutch, and reveals all the quirks that make up the curious yet charming country of Belgium.
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