When I decided to study abroad in Rome, I was so excited to learn a new language. I had previously taken five years of Spanish throughout high school with a year of college Spanish in high school. I decided to not continue with the language once I got into college. I truly did enjoy learning the language, and with the way my mind works, languages come pretty easily to me.
When I signed up for Italian, I was really looking forward to being able to understand the locals, or at least try and keep up with them. I didn’t expect it to be too challenging, especially because it was similar to Spanish. When I first went to Italy two years before I went abroad, I was able to navigate around Rome just based on similarities between the two languages. I was able to read the signs to get a general idea of what it was trying to say. I was also able to pick out words in conversations that I was able to understand, but I was never able to fully comprehend or respond.
Once I really began learning Italian, there were a few rules to it that were pretty confusing. The Italian alphabet doesn’t have the same letters as our alphabet, which I didn’t know. My professor was super cool and he made it entertaining to learn and made it super easy, too. The one thing I wasn’t prepared for was how the similarities between Spanish and Italian would make it more difficult. When we would be learning different vocabulary, it would sound just like a Spanish word that I knew. With certain subjects it was easy, like with colors and food. These words were practically the same word with the same meaning, so it made it easy to remember because I already knew it. Surprisingly, the similarities between numbers made it harder. I’ve been able to count in Spanish since before I can even remember so that is truly second nature to me, so trying to learn another number system in an extremely similar language was actually quite difficult. I would easily mix a few up, but now, after a semester of learning the language, I can say that it’s much easier to not get the two languages mixed up.
Megan Reid is the Spring 2019 CEA MOJO Blogger in Rome, Italy, and is currently studying at University of Alabama.