On not knowing another language.

I speak Spanish- sort of.

I know Italian- but not enough.

I can order food, curse, and count to 8, among other things, in German- but nothing more.

I can curse and order food and introduce myself and count to three in French- but that’s it.

I can say basic greetings, count to five, and ask for things in Turkish- again, the end.

Languages are some sort of aphrodisiac for me. The idea of syntax, grammar, and rules combined to create different sounds that have so much meaning? Glorious! The problem is that I’m a dabbler. I rarely commit to a language, and that’s because I always hit the wall.

The language wall.

I have been studying Italian and Spanish since freshman year of high school, but never totally immersed myself in the process. I even lived in an Italian speaking region of Switzerland for two years, but only learned enough to get around, not really striking up conversations with locals or taking the chance for a home stay with a famiglia. Lately, however, realizing that I love Germany, everything German, and that I find northern Europe a place I want to live permanently later, I desperately have gone through feverish states where I attempt to teach myself Deutsche. I’ve only become more frustrated.

Growing up in America with parents who only speak English is awesome. I have a large vocabulary and I love my native tongue. However, it is binding. English is becoming a global language, but it’s still a silencing sort of thing to only know ONE tongue, ja?

I guess the only point of this post is to express my yearning for a place where I can totally become a part of a culture enough that I absorb and utilize the language. I’m looking at graduate schools in Germany, and it would be so gut if I could somehow manage to stay there and learn German fluently.

Being fluent in another language is a really, really good thing. People who are bilingual (or trilingual, etc.) have better cognitive functions, they have more doors open for them, and they are in general just far cooler than us single-language knowing plebians. As a global citizen, I almost feel guilty for not committing and learning another language fluently. When I travel, I get the sense that if I just really really worked, I could learn (insert language of the places I’ve visited here: Polish, Turkish, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Switzer-deutsch, Sicilian).

I almost feel as though in order to be a true global citizen that understanding another language is essential. To truly know how to express your feelings in more than one language? That’s beauty. Plain and simple, pure, unfiltered beauty. (Not to mention damn useful!) For all you bilingual, trilingual, and other polyglots out there, I salute you! I someday hope to join your amazing ranks!

Ciao/Hasta luego/Tschüß/Au revoir/Widerluege!

 

Montana State University’s 3rd Annual Condom Fashion Show

Last night Kristin, Renee, and I lined up two hours before the doors opened at the Condom Fashion Show, “Latex and Lace”.

It’s exactly what it sounds like- people, sponsored by health clinics and local businesses, create costumes out of prophylactics. The point isn’t just to strut around in latex- it’s to raise awareness of STI’s, safe sex, and the real cost of NOT being safe when engaging in sex. So, we combine all of this information with a dash of creativity and a lot of personality!

The show was such a success. It was my first time going, and we got third row seats. I raised my camera above my head and took a lot of guesstimation shots, so sorry about the bad angles and such. One couple were gangsters, complete with basketball jerseys, grills, and tattoos. Big Bird, from the iconic show Sesame Street, strutted down covered in neon yellow condoms, carrying sign reading “C is for Condom”. Sailor Moon came out, sponsered by the anime club, in an ornate costume of woven condoms- seriously amazing! Somebody dressed like Marilyn Monroe in her white dress- the skirt was made from hundreds of carefully cut condoms, and it looked like it was actually made of real fringe, not latex! There were many many more costumes that were fantastic.

Afterwards, we drove downtown and went to Plonk, Bozeman’s classy wine bar. It’s hard to find a table, and Plonk is known for catering to the Bozeman bourgeois. None of us were yet 21, so it was hard to NOT get laughed at by the waiters when we ordered coffees and such, which felt a little ridiculous. Ageism, I say! The desserts we got were worth it, though.

We seated ourselves in a corner surrounded by felt hats, belt buckles, long cardigans, and lots of iPhones- the Bozemanites have all got them, and the old people love taking photographs. A cheese platter, a flourless torte, and two strawberry crepes later, we left the dark, delicious interior of Plonk to each head to bed.

I kind of want a skirt made of condoms now. They bounced and twirled so well!

In all seriousness, though, this was a fantastic way to spread awareness in a colorful, fun, and comfortable environment. The truth is, education is key to sexual health and awareness. The more comfortable we as a society are with sex, too, the easier it will be to channel important information.

The day to day life of a college student

The day to day seems mundane, but I’ve tried to capture a few more energetic moments. The hustle in between classes on an enormous campus, paired with a beautiful sunset that gave shadows to a building. Although these moments, in the grand scheme of things, have almost no significance, I feel like by capturing them I’ve given them some significance.

A large part of my day to day life is feeling a mix of guilt and stress.

Guilt over the fact that my parents help me pay for college, and stress over debt, grades, expectations, etc.

College is so full of expectations, it seems that older generations do not necessarily give enough credit to this.

(Warning, here is a long text post!)

First, we’re supposed to decide on majors. These majors, in theory, will affect the rest of our lives. Science says this isn’t really the greatest idea. The human brain doesn’t even fully develop until around the age of 25, and by then I should be graduated and heading into graduate school! Apparently, though, I should be deciding on my major now. Now, dammit! You have to decide what you want to do with your life now, otherwise you’ll be social pariah who didn’t go to college and make rash decisions like the rest of us!

Second, we’re saddling thousands of dollars in debt! Even with scholarships, it’s almost impossible to afford college. Now, I made the decision (mistake?) to attend a private school in Switzerland for the first two years of my college career. I learned a lot of things, both about myself and about what I want to do, but was it worth $30,000 of personal debt? I’m not sure yet, but I have to hope so. I don’t really have a choice. Schools have more and more applicants, with more and more scholarships- usually what a university does is thin out the dollar amount of the scholarships and work study to provide more scholarships and work study. Yes, I’m getting scholarships! Woo! In a metaphor, though, I’m getting a crumb of what used to be a pie. It’s a drop in the Mariana Trench-deep of buckets. Student loans right now total upwards of $500 BILLION dollars. Here, let’s type out those zeros. 50,000,000,000.00…phew. I’m a member of one of the largest debt-holding groups after home owners! WOO! (Oh, wait…that’s a bad thing).

Third, college students have expectations that we’ll goof off, and still manage to be alright. Most people have this idea that the average college student engages in partying behavior, hooking up, and is generally being super social, right? Because, dude, right now is, like, totally the time to do that, right? False. Honestly, as an introvert, I can’t handle your social expectations. Lo siento, mi dispiache, my apologies, but you can’t expect me to keep good grades, my sanity, and a social life, all while sleeping.

Fourth, we’ve got real-world concerns. Will I get a job? Will I get into grad school? Will I be able to pay off my loans without defaulting, ruining my credit score, and essentially becoming a street urchin who can’t buy a car/house/anything? Will I disappoint my parents? Am I eating healthy enough? Where am I going to live next year?

Fifth, we’ve got young-people concerns. Did I fail my Spanish exam? Does that hot guy from the coffee place like me? Do I have food in my teeth? Am I skinny enough? Did I go to the gym enough this week? Does my roommate think I’m strange? Did that really weird girl in the hall clean her hair out of the drain in the bathroom? Do I have enough printing credit for this assignment? Do I want to go to that party? Did I wash my sheets?

College students now (and in the past), do not have it so easy. Alright, so I’m not paying rent, I don’t have to commute, and I don’t pay for cable, but I do have a whole legitimate list of concerns and worries. Sometimes, the future is scary. Sometimes, the now is scary.

Speaking of the now, I’ve got some Latina feminist reading to do. Adios!

 

Sir Ken Robinson TedTalk

Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity (WATCH THIS!)

I am addicted to TEDTalks. I find them to be startling, amazing, hope inducing, and rather spectacular.

Sir Ken Robinson, knighted for his services to educated in the United Kingdom, gives this compelling TEDTalk. It’s 19 minutes long, but completely, 110% worth it.

He talks about the “hierarchy of subjects” – Mathematics, Languages, then the Humanities, then the Arts. He also discusses how our system is based on the education system developed for the Industrial Revolution, because we couldn’t get jobs otherwise.

Children’s values aren’t appreciated or are actually stigmatized, Robinson notes. He also discusses the EXTREMELY relevant problem of “academic inflation”- that now, the job that required a B.A. now requires an M.A.. Didn’t the New York Times declare the Master’s as the new Bacherlor’s? (Rhetorical question).

Creativity rules, and we need to foster it, rather than relying solely on “practical” or “useful” majors/areas of study.  If you’re procrastinating that paper or looking for a quality way to spend 20 minutes, go here!