This is your brain on…italian?!   // jeff

To say that the last few weeks have flown by would be an exaggeration and an understatement at the same time. An exaggeration because at times I have been so tired that time seemed to creep by, dragging along just to mock my exhaustion. An understatement because here I am, writing this from the kitchen table in our temporary apartment here in Chiavenna, our new home.

Learning a new language is about the hardest work one can do, and it’s a job which does funny things to the mind. They say that when you learn a new language the brain compartmentalizes it so as to maintain two completely different ways of expressing itself verbally. This concept is wonderful on paper, “Oh sweet, I won’t loose english when I learn italian.”; but in reality, the initial stages of learning said new language are so exhausting for my feeble brain that each evening I am rendered completely useless in either language. My brain has just plain given up on doing the switch – usually stuck in the airlock between the two compartments – and I’m left with the ability to remember only a few small details of each days lessons in italian (a depressing realization to have to replay each evening) and none of the things that I wanted to do with my life in english (also a tad depressing).

During the day isn’t much better. Basic information becomes nearly impossible to maintain: Names of new friends, places where we eat, how to get back to Vanessa’s house, where we’re staying, on the bus, the simple schedule of our lives at the moment. All the little things that your brain handles behind the scenes for you on a day to day basis have become bits of paper swirling around in the wind.

But each day becomes a little easier, each conversation goes a little smoother. I may not remember learning about the differences between imperfect and present perfect but I am sure using them both quite a lot more now. At least some of the information pouring forth from the fire-hose must be landing in the small tupperware box in my brain that’s labeled italian. There is hope.

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One comment

  1. yay! I’m so happy to see you guys all well and good in italy! we need to skype soon. I just finished moving into my new place, and things are a bit chaotic but I can’t wait to catch up and hear about your adventures! 🙂