New Mission: Total Immersion


Fig 1: Half-way there

Usually I have to concoct a gripping first line for my posts, but I think this picture has done it for me today. In fact this picture’s almost making it difficult to write a beginning at all, there’s just so much it wants me to say, I don’t know where to start.

YES. The red shorts are even shorter. How I love this country where you’re allowed to wear these swimming costumes. It’s the old adage where less is more. Less clothes. How sad I’ll be back in England when I have to revert to our society of sensible swimwear. Or maybe when I return I just won’t adhere to our culture, I’ll rock these nonetheless, but at the peril of attracting the wrong kind of attention down on the beach nearest my dad’s house (Brighton). Though then again I’m not coming back for ages, and by then the sun will be gone (or didn’t even appear in the first place) so it won’t be important anymore that I can’t wear them. Thus I win, and screw you prudes and your prejudices against us men who are just in tune with wearing bright and skimpy garments: we have penises, and the world should know their outline whenever we meet. Deal with it.

But I’ve got completely carried away here, and still haven’t even got to the point of this post. We’re already three paragraphs in now. Where’s the usual structure? Where’s the topic sentence for each paragraph? What is this all about? I’m sorry this is just what happens when I find a new pair of red shorts, people who know me will understand. It’s a special time, it doesn’t come often, it’s fucking with my grammar and planning, it makes things like grammar and planning seem completely insignificant. We’re talking about new red shorts here people.

I am a chameleon. There you go, there’s a topic sentence. I’m getting back in the game, the excitement is fading and I can feel I’m about to find my rhythm again. A chameleon because my skin can be light or dark. Because my face doesn’t have a distinguishable name of a country stamped to it like some do. My nose is Roman, my eyes are, well I don’t know, nice, basically. The point is with a bit of tweaking I can make myself look like someone from most areas; somebody even thought I was a pakistani once (a fucking idiot obviously, I know, but still). My hair is versatile and can do anything. I am versatile and I suit different hairstyles, I suit different clothes, I’m ready to be moulded, I’m ready to adapt.

And it’s fun to go to a country and try to become a part of it. Though in doing this I’m not going to be cringe. I’m still going to accept that I am English, still going to respect my roots and I am not here trying to forget my culture forever (except for elements regarding swimwear). I’m also not going to be some idiot who comes here and pisses off all the Italians by trying to impersonate them and constantly shouts CHEEE INCREDEEBAHHLAAYY while throwing hands left, right and centre (As I warned not to). Instead I’ve just come here to try and immerse myself. And when you immerse yourself, and you open yourself to what you see, what you see begins to rub off on you. I never consciously tried to start using gestures while I speak, but they’re beginning to come out, and apparently I use them correctly. I never drunk coffee, but it’s just always there and now I too need my exresso after lunch. It all happens quite slowly and steadily, and Leone (who I was living with in Pisa) told me that he’s watched me become more Italian each day here.

However there’s no such thing as simply an ‘Italian’. You’ve got North Italians and South Italians before that, and before that you have people from their regions or even cities. Don’t confuse a man from Livorno with a man from Pisa for example, the two cities maybe within 40km of each other, but this 40km has a road that is paved by blood and an air tainted by vengeance. The banter between them is more friendly now, but within only the last couple of hundred years, the banter was more violent and involved killing each other. The kind of levels of banter that would put the English lads of today to shame. Additionally it’s also quite rude to say I’m becoming Italian while posting a picture of me in skimpy swimwear, for there are lots of Italian people who wouldn’t wear them, and while these people might admit that I am becoming quite Italian by wearing these shorts, they’d probably say becoming a part of the Italian ‘tamarri’ (English equiv; Essex chavs).

Though tamarri, Livornese, PIsans, South, North, they’re all different, but they are all Italians. There is a fundamental similarity, and there is a basic way of life and of communication that holds true between every region. You can learn this, and it’s fun to try and pick it up, to live a different lifestyle. And when you live this lifestyle that everyone else lives, you can relate more to each other; you know what to complain about, you know what to say is really good. Talking about what things are shit and what aren’t is the basis of communication, the more you can agree with each other and understand each other here, the more you’ll get on. This doesn’t mean you pretend to like things or hate things, you just live the life yourself, work out what you like and dislike, and find the people who agree with you. Then you become friends. Life is simple.

But I’ve never managed to completely immerse myself in the language.

FINALLY! I’ve just got to the point of this post… and it’s only taken seven paragraphs and a picture (though the picture is probably at the heart of the problem).

Yes, I’ve never gone a day without speaking English, in fact I’ve rarely done a day of speaking more Italian than English. Except I did once spend one day almost entirely in Italian and I spoke it so much better the next, while I understood it much more because I was made to have to. It would be a real experience to not speak a word of English for a week or so, I’ve never done it before, I want to go try.

So the new mission; Speak only Italian from tomorrow onwards until I meet an English friend who should be arriving around the 28th July. That’s about 2 weeks. The aim is to crack fluency, I believe two weeks of strict practice would give me a functional fluency. I can pretty much say anything I’d like to say in Italian at the moment, but the grammar would suck a little, and my understanding is lacking. There’s some verb conjugations that are not quite there too. I’d like to be twice as good at speaking Italian in 2 weeks time. I’ll make a video tomorrow, and then a video in 2 weeks. Then we’ll judge.

Why does this idea excite me so much? Because it means I have to go out in the world and start speaking with people. Without speaking I can’t learn. It means I’ll have to adventure again, find the areas without the English speakers, the rural confines of Italia. It’s given me a new lease, a new motive, a new inspiration. And a damn productive one at that. I read a lot of blogs on language learning that say the key to learning is to switch off speaking English entirely, that this is the only way to learn effectively and quickly. Well I’ve already learnt quickly without doing this, but now I want to push my brain a bit, see how well it can actually work… though still I’m not going to do any studying because that’s just a mission.

I’m also going to cut down on blogging because this requires writing in English. But If you’re interested to see how well you can learn a language just through immersion, and without studying and learning vocab, stay tuned. Plus I’ve got a few prewritten boys to be released in the future, so you’ll still be lubed up with my words in the meantime.

Note: I just realised I wrote ‘boys’ by accident in that last sentence. I suppose it’s about time I introduced some of my slang to this blog so I shan’t correct it. I shan’t explain it, you’ll just work it out with context each time.

About Sam

Hi I'm Sam and I write here exclusively at Samuel's Travels. Exclusively as by and large no-one wants me writing anywhere else. Please enjoy yourself while reading.
This entry was posted in How To Learn Italian, Mission Total Immersion. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to New Mission: Total Immersion

  1. Mario says:

    I also love travelling by bike. If you happen to cross Abruzzo let me know. Mario

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