Ex-changing my life

I vividly remember my first French lecture in 11th std during which our teacher had informed us about the Indo-French Exchange Programme. My mind had instantly started playing scenarios of what and how it would be if I were to be a part of it. Fast forward to today, it’s already been two years since I participated in the same, the memories being nonetheless crystal clear in my mind.

The entire journey was and still is so overwhelming. It enabled me to explore a new country, adopt a different culture, speak a foreign language more confidently, meet new people (who soon turned into family and friends), and most importantly exchange thoughts and opinions with people who didn’t share my language, nor my culture. Moreover, it gave me a deeper understanding of my own city, country and culture as well (trust me, I hadn’t been to several places in Pune earlier, which I then got to visit with my correspondent).

However, for me, the best part about being an exchange student is not discovering a foreign country as a mere tourist. Exchange programmes aren’t just about visiting the tourist attractions or savouring the culinary specialties. It’s much more! Making chai-poha for my host family, drawing and colouring along with my correspondent’s little cousin, listening and dancing to French songs with my host parents, cooking with my correspondent and her sister or learning french swear words from them,  going through my host family’s old pictures, hanging out with my correspondent’s friends, giving presentations about India in their classes (that, too, in French), enjoying the late-night conversations and discussions with my host family… these little, yet invaluable moments truly made my journey unforgettable.

Moreover, since it was an “exchange”, my correspondent, too, got the opportunity to explore a new country in a different way; while staying here with my family and I. This brings me to another significant benefit of an exchange program- it wasn’t just I who got the exposure, but my own family as well. My family, too, got a chance to meet, talk and stay with a person who didn’t share the same language, culture or country. Be it my mother watching Bollywood movies with my correspondent and teaching her to put mehendi or my father asking her about the life in France; my brother teaching her new English words and expressions (and learning French ones from her) or my sister sharing our childhood memories; my cousins chatting and playing with her or my correspondent tasting the apparent spicy Indian dishes with my family… it was so overwhelming to see my whole family have this kind of an experience, about which they talk to this day!

I had once read a quote: “Travel far enough, you meet yourself” and today it makes much more sense to me. This exchange programme helped me improve as an individual. I became stronger, braver and more responsible. I also became bolder and much more confident, both as a person and as a French-speaker. I could genuinely feel the change in me. Being an exchange student, for me, was life-changing in every sense of the word, and I can never imagine my life otherwise. After all, it wasn’t merely a month in my life, it was a life in a month.

-Khushi Goyal

Et toi, mon amour?

Picture Source: Pinterest

Mon amour,
—–Aujourd’hui à la Saint-Valentin, je ne pense qu’à toi et aux moments merveilleux qu’on a passés ensemble. Je me souviens vivement des soirées où on réservait une table pour deux à notre resto préféré bien en avance afin d’avoir une place qui donnait sur le paysage. Je me souviens vivement de comment tu me jetais des fleurs chaque jour. Je me souviens vivement des longs trajets en voiture qu’on faisait le week-end. Je me souviens vivement de comment tu t’occupais de mon chat quand je ne le pouvais pas. Je me souviens vivement de comment tu chantais comme une casserole. Je me souviens vivement de comment tu dansais sur mon lit et des fois même en tombais. Je me souviens vivement de comment tu me laissais manger le dernier morceau de pizza. Je me souviens vivement de comment tu dormais la bouche ouverte. Je me souviens vivement de comment on passait des heures et des heures sans regarder l’horloge, ni le portable. Je me souviens de tout, mon amour.
—–Je me souviens également de comment tout s’est terminé un jour. Pas un jour quelconque. Je me souviens de comment tu m’as laissée toute seule à la Saint-Valentin. Je me souviens de comment tu as tout oublié du jour au lendemain. Je me souviens de comment j’ai vécu une crise existentielle à ce moment-là. Oui, mon amour, je me souviens de tout. Même aujourd’hui. Même après deux ans. J’ai beau faire des efforts pour tout oublier, je me souviens quand même de tout.
—–Et toi, mon amour ?

-Khushi Goyal

PS: Cette lettre d’amour a été écrite lors d’une activité dans mon cours de français où j’ai dû écrire une lettre d’amour/de rupture en utilisant les mots suivants : table, jeter, voiture, occuper, chat, chanter, danser, manger, dormir, horloge, crise existentielle.

Compliments are complimentary

Picture Source: Pinterest

Recently, one of my friends complimented me saying, “You’re a package of joy; people must be blessed to be around you.” And by that, as you might imagine, I was overwhelmed beyond expression. I couldn’t stop smiling. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It had truly made my day. Consequently, this incident got me thinking about the significance of compliments in our lives.   

How many of us actually take conscious efforts to compliment people around us- our family, our friends, our acquaintances, or even strangers? At times, we hesitate to do so by thinking about how the other person might react. At times, we avoid it to not be too intrusive. And at times, our ego doesn’t let us to do it. Should all this really stop us from complimenting? I believe not.  

“The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions – the little, soon forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look or heartfelt compliment.”

-Samuel Taylor Coleridge 

Imagine going through a really bad day. Now imagine someone coming up to you out of the blue saying, “I love your eyes.” I’m certain that even if it’s for a brief moment, you’ll surely forget all your problems and all the things that were going wrong that day. That’s the power of a compliment, a heartfelt compliment.  

Compliments give that what a person requires the most: Recognition, praise, appreciation and happiness. Simple words of admiration, spoken especially at unexpected times by unexpected people, really go a long way; more so when it is about the personality rather than the appearance! A simple “You inspire me to work harder”, “You are fun to be with”, “You make me so happy”, “You are a beautiful person”, “You are so kind”, might genuinely make someone’s day; and perhaps yours too! 

So today, since it’s the ‘World Compliment Day’, I encourage you to inculcate the art of complimenting. Show people the love they deserve.  Let them know how much of a difference they make in your life. Start appreciating them. Shower them with praises. Because after all, compliments are complimentary!

-Khushi Goyal

Bénéfices Inexplorés du Multilinguisme

J’ai toujours été fascinée par des langues. Pensez-y : une simple combinaison de 26 alphabets nous aide à exprimer nos sentiments, communiquer nos pensées et manifester nos opinions. En plus, ce n’est qu’une langue. Maintenant imaginez qu’il y ait plus de 6500 langues. En d’autres termes, 6500 façons uniques par lesquelles nous pouvons communiquer le même message. Stupéfiant, n’est-ce pas ? Posséder ce pouvoir de m’exprimer de plusieurs manières; dans plusieurs langues, c’est ce qui m’intrigue, et c’est pourquoi je me suis plongée dans le monde sublime des langues.

Être bilingue ou multilingue a ses propres bénéfices. Le premier étant la capacité de communiquer avec une multitude de personnes. Eh bien, non seulement communiquer, mais aussi, se connecter.

« Si vous parlez à un homme dans une langue qu’il comprend, vous parlez à sa tête. Si vous lui parlez dans sa langue, vous parlez à son cœur»

-Nelson Mandela

Est-ce que vous vous êtes jamais demandé pourquoi nous avons la tendance de parler en notre langue maternelle lorsque nous sommes hystériques ? C’est parce que nous nous exprimons le mieux dans notre langue natale. Pour cette raison, être polyglotte nous permet de communiquer avec des gens dans leur langue d’origine, rendant les conversations plus conviviales et les discussions plus profondes.

Je suis également d’avis que le plus de langues nous parlons, le mieux nous articulons. Ceci est, selon moi, en raison de deux raisons. Premièrement, nous nous familiarisons avec de nouveaux mots et de nouvelles expressions en apprenant une nouvelle langue, ce qui élargit désormais notre lexique des deux langues. Deuxièmement, nous découvrons certains mots qui sont intraduisibles dans notre langue maternelle ( par exemple, karma ) aidant ainsi à manifester nos idées avec plus de lucidité.

L’acquisition d’une deuxième langue a des effets durables sur notre personnalité aussi ( elle les a certainement eus sur la mienne ). Cela nous rend plus expressifs, plus pertinents et plus confiants. De surcroît, nous devenons plus patients et plus persistants lors du processus d’apprentissage. Il est également prouvé que les différences linguistiques de deux langues nous aident à développer une nouvelle perspective, nous donnant ainsi une vision alternative du monde ( si vous voulez savoir comment, regardez cette vidéo )

« Étudier une autre langue consiste non seulement à apprendre d’autres mots pour désigner les mêmes choses, mais aussi à apprendre une autre façon de penser à ces choses»

-Flora Lewis

Être multilingue nous permet également d’apprécier les œuvres d’art dans leurs versions originales. Donc, apprendre une langue étrangère implique, en outre, de pouvoir apprécier non seulement des films, des chansons, des livres ou des poèmes, mais aussi des séries, des citations, des blagues ou même des mèmes de cette langue dans leurs formes authentiques ( je vous jure, je n’ai jamais été aussi heureuse qu’en lisant « Le Petit Prince » en français ). Admettons-le, les petites nuances des mots sont perdues dans la traduction, peut-être à cause du fait que nous sommes soumis à l’interprétation du traducteur et non à celle de l’artiste. D’où l’expression « Traduire, c’est trahir ».

En apprenant une langue, nous sommes exposés davantage à la culture des personnes dont cette langue est la langue natale. Cela peut être à travers soit des matériaux didactiques soit des œuvres d’arts susmentionnés. De plus, il est tout à fait possible d’avoir des amis qui sont les locuteurs natifs de cette langue ( au moyen du voyage, des correspondants,  des programmes d’échange ou des visites éducatives, pour en nommer quelques-uns ). Ceci, et je parle d’expérience ici, nous aide considérablement à nous familiariser avec certains aspects sociaux et culturels, nous donnant ainsi un aperçu réel et non-stéréotypé de leur culture et de leur mode de vie. C’est exactement la raison pour laquelle mon programme d’échange et les conversations avec mes correspondants français me permettent de mieux comprendre la culture française, qu’aucun livre ou film ne me pourrait jamais donner.

Je crois que les bénéfices susdits s’avèrent être les atouts principaux du plurilinguisme. Pourtant, cela ne se termine pas ici; il y a plus que ça. Il y a de nombreux avantages qui sont plutôt connus par tout le monde et n’ont donc pas été discourus au-dessus. Ceux-ci incluent des avantages sociaux, cognitifs, professionnels et économiques qui sont résumés brièvement dans l’infographie ci-dessous.

La source: Google Images

Comme on peut en déduire, la connaissance de plusieurs langues est bénéfique de plusieurs manières. Et moi, en tant que multilingue, je vous encourage de ne pas hésiter d’apprendre une nouvelle langue, car quel que soit l’objectif, personnel ou professionnel, je vous assure que cela va certainement changer votre vie, comme cela a changé la mienne.

Khushi Goyal

PS: Dites-moi dans les commentaires votre perspective sur ce sujet, ainsi que ses bénéfices et/ou ses effets sur votre vie !

Unexplored Perks of Multilingualism

I have always been fascinated by languages. Think about it- a mere combination of just 26 alphabets helps us to manifest, express and communicate our thoughts, feelings and opinions. Besides, that is just one language. Now imagine there being more than 6500 languages. In other words, 6500 unique ways in which we can communicate the same message. Spellbinding, isn’t it? Having the power to articulate each and every word in more than one way, in more than one language is what intrigues me, and this was why I delved into the sublime world of languages.

Being a bilingual or multilingual has its own benefits. The foremost being the ability to communicate to a multitude of people. Well, not just communicate, but also, connect.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
-Nelson Mandela

Ever wonder why we tend to speak or rather switch to our mother tongue when we are being hysterical? That’s because we tend to express ourselves the best in our native language. For this reason, learning a second language helps us to communicate as well as connect with people in their first language, making the conversations more convivial and the discussions more profound.

I am also of the opinion that the more languages we know, the better we enunciate. This, according to me, is because of two reasons. Firstly, we are likely to stumble upon new words and expressions while learning a new language, hence expanding our lexicon of both the languages. Secondly, we are likely to get acquainted with certain words which are untranslatable in our native language (for instance, déjà vu), thus aiding us to convey our ideas more effectively.

Second-language acquisition proves to have enduring effects on our personality as well (it certainly did have on mine). It not only makes us more expressive, but also pertinent and more self-confident. We are also likely to become more patient, dedicated and persistent in the course of learning a new language. Furthermore, it is proven that the linguistic differences between two languages help us to develop a new perspective, thus giving us an alternative vision of the world (if you wish to know how, watch this video).

“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.”
-Flora Lewis

Language learning also allows us to enjoy the works of art in their original versions. Therefore, learning another language additionally implies being able to relish not only the movies, songs, books or poems, but also the series, quotes, jokes or even memes of that language in their authentic forms, without having to face the language barrier. Because, let’s face it, the essence of a word is lost in translation, perhaps due to the fact that we are subjected to the translator’s understanding of the idea and not the artist’s (Trust me, I have never been happier than while reading “The Little Prince” in French).

Furthermore, in the course of learning a new language, we are unreservedly exposed to the culture of the people speaking that language. This might be either through the didactic materials via which we are learning the language or through the works of art mentioned before. Moreover, it is quite possible to have friends who are native speakers of that language (by means of travel, pen pals, exchange programs or educational visits to the host country, to name a few). This, and I speak from experience here, helps us significantly to familiarize ourselves with several social and cultural aspects, consequently giving us a genuine and non-stereotypical insight of their culture and lifestyle. And this is why my exchange program and chats with French correspondents give me a much deeper understanding of the French culture than any movie or book could ever give.

I personally believe that the aforesaid merits are the overriding benefits of language learning. However, there’s more to it. There are numerous other advantages which are commonly known to all, and have therefore not been elaborated upon. These include the various cognitive, health, professional and economic benefits which are briefly summarized in the infographic given below.

Benefits of Language Learning
Source: Google Images

Thus, as can be inferred, there are innumerable ways in which learning a new language pays you. And I, as a multilingual, encourage you to not give language learning a second thought, because whatever be the motive, personal or professional, I assure you that it will definitely change your life for the better, as it certainly did change mine.

-Khushi Goyal

PS: Let me know in the comments below your perspective on language learning, and its perks and effects on your life!