A different kind of winter

Spending the winter in Rome

For many years, I only knew Italy in the summertime: beaches, bike rides, the smell of damp napkins when walking by a gelateria in the evening, sun screen and the fresh pages of a magazine by the pool.

At a later point in time, I experienced this wonderful country during the golden period of autumn, when the leaves ever so reluctantly turn yellow and the air starts getting a bit cooler after the violent heat of August – and during springtime: opulent chocolate eggs, lavish landscapes and a flowery breeze.

But wintertime? No connection had ever been established between my  “Nordic” concept of winter and my concept of Italy – and it wasn’t until November 25th 2017 that it was created.

I had taken a bus to the city center on a Saturday afternoon and did what I do best: walk and occasionally trip over Roman cobblestones.

Just a few days before, Christmas decorations had been put up, and randomly, I ended up in a beautifully decorated quartiere near the Pantheon.

There was something deeply familiar, consoling and pleasing about the Christmas lights: snowflakes, fireballs and stars. Yet, as I stepped out of a supermarket after randomly grabbing overpriced instant coffee, it hit me that this was an entirely different kind of winter I was experiencing.

It was late November, yet I wore my jacket open and I could still feel my fingers. There was the unexpected smell of cotton candy and roasted almonds as people were eating ice cream around me. Festive wraths fastened on doors, but the buildings were sandy beige and somewhat delicate, not greyish and squat. No snow, just the occasional alluvione. Just cold enough to get you in a Christmassy mood. I watched a glorious sunset with a freezing face, but there was still a palm tree sneaking into my field of vision.

My obsession with the Italian winter developed alongside my obsession with Italian Christmas lights … and I dread the moment in which they will get taken down.

Let’s enjoy them while they’re there — the kitschier, the better, right?



Are polyglots schizophrenic?

Up to a certain degree, yes!

Have you ever interacted with a person, yet once you switched to a different language your perception of him or her changed entirely?

Watch my short video in Russian about how the language we speak influences our personality and get to know my “Russian self”!

Thank you for watching 🙂

The song I used in the outro is “Closer” by Emma Jensen.

Language study tips for shy people

Typical language courses and language classes can be if you tend to be quiet and less talkative. I hope there are some rather shy language enthusiasts out there I can help out with these strategies I have discovered for myself!

1. Be extra prepared

As a shy person, you might have to work just that little bit harder than those who have no problem speaking up in class. Be sure to complete your homework every week, make notes, prepare your question beforehand and if you know which topic you are going to discuss during your next session, make time to practice at home, doing a couple trial runs, which will boost your confidence!

2. Comfort is key

Sometimes life does not begin at the end, but at the entrance to your comfort zone! I have found that in the realm of language learning feeling comfortable in your learning environment is imperative. Find a one-on-one tutor if it makes you feel less overwhelmed, sit with a classmate you get along well with or stick with a certain teacher if you appreciate their approach and their teaching methods.

3. Pick the right seat

It might sound contradictory, but we have to face it: sometimes we still have to push ourselves to attain our goals. Remember it is your time and your money you are investing in a class or a course. Try and set the goal of speaking up at least once every lesson. I personally have discovered that sitting in the front row makes me feel less self-conscious and more ready to speak up!

4. Stop being underestimated

As someone who has sat through semesters full of uncomfortable language classes that had me face some rather tragicomical situations, I tell you that being vocal about your preferences is worth it. Try to find an opportunity to communicate to your teacher that you are just plain shy or less talkative, because teachers tend to misinterpret shyness as being indifferent, unmotivated or simply unprepared.