Travel can broaden one’s horizons

Analicia Haynes, Managing Editor

There have been times, I must admit, where I have taken advantage of the luxury that comes with being born American. 

Of course, that luxury could arguably be many things; however, the luxury I’m referring to is the freedom to not learn and not have to remember a foreign language.

For personal reasons none of you need to know about, I packed my bags and made my way to Berlin (which is becoming more of a burden rather than an adventure), and as soon as I stepped outside of the airport, I realized I became the annoying foreigner that everyone makes fun of.

Actually, my experience so far has been trying to navigate my way through the city while searching for young folk who look like they can understand English to tell me where this or that is; nodding politely to whoever stares me down and asks a question (or at least what I think is a question) and quickly scurrying away like a scared little mouse from a cat; and accepting the fact I have a gaudy South Side of Chicago, Mike Ditka perfected accent that is both hard to understand and “very funny-sounding” as my host kindly mentioned. 

However, somewhere between beating myself up for deciding Berlin would be my initiation into worldwide travel and praying to any god who can hear me to zap me home, it hit me. This is a great opportunity because it humbled me. 

Growing up, my schools never encouraged students to fully understand a foreign language. Sure, they make it a requirement, but the requirement is for two years and a way to get out of taking more foreign language courses in college. By the time the student reaches college, they have forgotten how to say the alphabet in Spanish.

Then, so many people fight and argue that English should be the only language spoken in America. Some even assault others just because they said “hola,” or threaten them to return from whence they came not realizing that is their home country, they have to learn two or three languages. 

As a result, we settle for one language. Believing that since everyone else knows or should know English, there is no reason we should step out of our comfort zone and submerge ourselves in a different language.

However, it is awful that we assume that everyone will know English, and quite frankly, it makes us the less fortunate, less intelligent and less aware.

All of our lives, we are sheltered, pampered and told that we are the best. Therefore everyone has to cater to our expectations and coincidentally our failures. If we are the so-called most powerful country in the world, then how come half of us can only speak one language while the other half struggles to speak it correctly, and meanwhile students halfway around the world are learning their IRS or fourth language? I suppose we have failed this round of survival of the fittest. 

Since many of us have the opportunity to go to college and acquire infinite amounts of knowledge that people can only dream of, the I recommend taking any foreign language course and excelling at it. 

You will be surprised at the marvels it can unveil and the many doors that will open up for you. 

Analicia Haynes is a junior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].