I’ve met people who believed their country was the best. They thought the rest of the world didn’t matter. I’ve tried my best but this stays the one opinion I can never wrap my head around.
How can you know for sure? What do you know about the rest of the world? Have seen how big it is?
Even if you spent your life traveling, you would barely see half of it. On top of this, you can never understand a country well until you know its culture. To know its culture well, you need to spend a lot of time connected with the language.
I understand the choice of staying within one’s own country. If that’s your thing, go ahead. You’ll just be missing out on a lifetime of mind-blowing experiences.
Learn one language and both the number of experiences and their intensity will increase manifold. Add a few more languages and you’re off to the stars.
Do Your Own Thing
A few months back, I visited an island in Japan. Some friends recommended me to go to a small Yakitori place there. The owner spoke English and was a talker so he shared his past with me and my friend.
30 years ago, he traveled abroad and learned English. When he came back, he was laughed at for having “wasted his time” going abroad. Today, he’s the go-to place on the island for all foreigners visiting.
His shop is nice but it isn’t mind-blowing. What makes it great is the owner’s constant focus on creating a pleasant atmosphere for his customers, whether they’re Japanese or not. When you enter, you’re suddenly part of a group: everybody inside the building.
He spent more than a decade barely making ends meet. Then, when tourists started pouring in on the island, he grew and now is packed every single day.
He knew 30 years ago he had made the right choice. He never wavered. He just waited and kept doing his thing. He was just ahead of the curve.
Time did the rest.
Languages take time
The owner learned English 30 years ago and it became useful only 10 years later. My language skills became useful only 5–6 years after I dove into them. A Japanese friend improved his English as a child while living in England but it only really became useful after University.
Don’t learn a language for the opportunities it will open to you today or tomorrow. Think long-term. Focus on the journey and not the goal.
I prefer saying “I’m learning X” rather than “I’ve learned X”.
I speak Japanese fluently but I’m still learning. Every new word or expression I find amazes me. My English is close to perfect but I love it when people correct me.
Take your time and enjoy the journey.
I started learning Korean seriously in 2009, three years before Gangnam Style started the Hallyu Wave in France. People laughed at me. They asked me what the point of learning such a useless language was. Since then, I haven’t met a single person telling me this. I was ahead of the curve I guess.
Thanks to languages, I was able to live incredible experiences, many of which I still struggle to put into words that make sense for those who weren’t there.
But more importantly, the learning journey changed me. I’ve become addicted to the act of learning.
What if your own learning journey transported you into a magnificent world?