Every time I mention that I lived in Rome for two and a half years (that half is really important) people generally respond with “Oh you must be fluent in Italian then?” and then I must guilty reply “Well, actually….No”.
This is by far the biggest thing I regret about living in Italy. How did I live in Rome and have a life there but not speak the language? Yes I could get by. I could have a basic conversation, order food (which is truly important) and identify all the food in the grocery store but I couldn’t go farther than that! I could go ahead and give you all the excuses that I used while I lived there for not learning the language better:
The Romans always respond in English.
All my Italian friends speak better English than I do.
I am an English speaking tour guide
The truth is though, that I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed about how bad my accent was. I was embarrassed about how little I knew. So instead of confronting this and studying and learning I chose to do nothing. Looking back on this I realize now what a HUGE mistake this was. I missed out on a lot of opportunities to get to know the local Romans more and to learn even more about the city that I love to hate but love so much.
I always suggest to people to learn a little of the local language before they travel somewhere. It helps to know hello, please, thank you to get by and show the locals that you are trying. Language can open up so many doors while you are traveling. It is such an imperative thing to learn before you go anywhere and I dropped the ball.
Alex and I plan on returning to Italy and to Rome in the near future and I am trying to rectify this mistake. Nothing will change the fact that I did not learn Italian while I lived there but hopefully by the time I return all those Rosetta Stone lessons will have worked. I want to talk to locals about their traditions, their life and learn more about this beautiful country. I don’t want to be held back because I am embarrassed about not knowing the language. Fear never gets anyone anywhere. After all what’s the worst that can happen if I mispronounce something?
The goal for 2015 is to become fluent in Italian. Soon I will have much more free time on my hands and I can study more. I will become FLUENT. Internet and dearest readers I need you to help keep me accountable. It may not be December 31st yet but I am already planning my resolution and I will not fail this time!