Ciao! Mi chiamo Tommy. Sono studente di teatro in Arezzo per tre mesi! Io amo parlare italiano — in questo girono io scrivo circa quando io parlo la linga bellissima: italiano!
I have absolutely loved getting to immerse myself in Italy these past few weeks. Right now, I am reflecting on the joys of re-learning the Italian language. I came to the Accademia with prior knowledge of Italian — I studied Italian from 6th grade to 10th grade — but after I stopped taking classes, I completely forgot the language. This was a loss I mourned. I thought for the rest of my life I would never be able to speak it again. Use it or lose it, you know? After spending (almost!) 3 weeks in Arezzo, my conversational italian has been warming up and unlocking pieces of itself inside my brain again. I find that the combination of immersion classes and remembering what I learned when I was younger has allowed me to speak conversationally in Italian just a bit! Each day I remember more and more of what I’d learned and I constantly challenge myself to put my Italian language skills to the test by going into Arezzo to get to know the locals, only in Italian. When I go into Arezzo, I never speak English to anyone (unless they are from the Accademia, of course!). This has been an incredible experience, and I totally recommend everyone try it!
While stretching myself in a multitude of ways in the Accademia as a theater artist and while expanding as a human being in a foreign country, my brain is also drinking in this new knowledge of the Italian language with greed. Being able to connect with people and show the people of Arezzo that yes, I am interested in and serious about connecting with them, and yes, I want to hear what they have to say, is a wonderful thing. It has allowed me to be more present with the people and places around me in a deeper sense. It has challenged me to listen more, to hear more, to expand my horizons more.
The best thing about speaking Italian out and about in town is that everyone is just excited to hear you try. Even if you mess up, most people will correct you and give you new words or slang to try out. Everyone is excited to hear you making an effort to listen and connect with Italian culture in an authentic way, rather than just scratch the surface of what Italy has to offer in an Americanized way. Knowing the language helps you dive deeper. And diving deeper gives back to you — you have more experiences, you become a fuller artist, you become a fuller person, and you can give back more.
All this to say — learn Italian! Take it seriously if and when you decide to come here, reader. And try to speak only in Italian when in Arezzo, or when in any place in Italy. You will not regret it!
p.s. Another secret bonus of learning Italian is being able to bargain with shop owners for cheaper prices. I, for one, am becoming an expert at haggling in Italian markets! Save that money, honey. Be bold, be confident, and don’t be a tourist.