The Occasional Shippment

Occasional thoughts from a young adult reveling in the messiness of life.

Learn Italian (Eight Down; Four to Go!)

October is almost here, and there’s still plenty to do on my list of 12 Things in 2012. The idea for this list came out of a need for me to refocus on my life outside of the office. Last year, 2011, was an incredibly busy year for me at work that left me with little time left over for rejuvenating and indulging in my interests outside of the office.

Anyway, one thing that I have learned in looking at the list is that some of the goals are significantly more “defined” than others. It’s easy to check off things like “Buy a Constant Aperture Lens” and “Go to Italy,” as these are what my company would call “S.M.A.R.T.” goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timed. The more specific the goal, the easier it is to achieve.

But there is one goal in particular that doesn’t meet that criteria very well: Learn Italian. When I added this item to the list, it was out of a long-held desire of mine to learn (what I consider to be) the most beautiful language, and it went along nicely with the “Go to Italy” item on my list of 12 Things.

What I didn’t do, however, was define what I would have to achieve to actually mark this one off the list. Did I actually expect to be fluent by the end of the year? No. So what then?

I spent the months leading up to our trip in June using the Fluenz software, which I HIGHLY recommend. It’s touted as being better than Rosetta Stone, and even thought I’ve never tried Rosetta Stone, I can say that it is a wonderful tool to learn a language for people who can’t attend classes. At the time, there were three “levels” for Italian. I made it through the first level and most of the second before we headed across the pond.

While we were there, I took as many opportunities as I could to speak in the native tongue. It was fun, but what I quickly learned was that if you DO speak Italian to Italians, they talk back. In Italian. Really fast. I knew enough to convey what I wanted to on most occasions, but not enough to actually understand most of what they said back. Oops. One conversation in particular jumps out at me, and it happens to be the one that I decided gives me enough “proof” to mark this item off the list:

We were in Murano, and island near Venice that is known for its glass. Being that I wanted to make myself a new Anglican rosary with beads from Murano, I spent most of my time in the shops on the island. In one of the shops, I had gathered quite the collection of beads, and as I approached the register, here is how the conversation progressed:

Me: Buona sera! (Good afternoon!)

Clerk: Buona sera! (Good afternoon!)

Me: Voglio comprare queste. (I want to buy these)

Clerk: Va bene (Very well.)

Me: Quant’ é (How much?)

Clerk: Quaranta euro. Come vuole pagare? (Forty euros. How do you want to pay?)

Me: Va bene pagare con la carta di credito (Is is alright if I pay with a credit card?)

Clerk: Sí. [something indistinguishable in Italian] (Yes. ??????????)

Me: Mi scuzi. Parlo un po’ Italiano. Ripetto per favore. (Excuse me. I only speak a little Italian. Repeat, please.)

Clerk: Ah. Parle Italiano molto bene! (Ah. You speak Italian very well!)

Me: Grazie! (Thanks!)


The conversation continued. He repeated, but used gestures to let me know that he was asking if I wanted it all together or separate. I used gestures to indicate together, and we continued with the purchase. In Italian.

Annnnnnnnd check. That’s enough for me! What can I say? It’s my list, and I can do what I want to. 🙂

So with that, I am crossing this one off. I do hope to continue working on my Italian with the hopes that one day I will be fluent, but hearing a native say “Parle Italiano molto bene” was enough for me for now.

Date accomplished: June 12, 2012

Here’s a recap of where I am with my list of 12 Things in 2012:

1. Get back into rock climbing.
2. Buy a constant aperture lens.
3. Start playing guitar again.
4. Learn to make edamame.
5. Launch ArtisanShipp website.
6. Renew passport.
7. Learn Italian.
8. Start charging for photography sessions
9. Make that special scarf.
10. Go to Houston.
11. Enter photography contest.
12. Go to Italy.

And just for fun, here are a few pictures from the trip, with words written in Italiano:


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This entry was posted on September 29, 2012 by in 12 Things in 2012 and tagged , , , , , , .

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