A world of nerds
I used to think that nerds were super intelligent creatures that lived in a lab or behind a screen coding and doing nerd stuff.
But one day I realized that everybody has a nerd in them: my friend Cecilia is a nerd at numbers and will remember every single person’s birthday and car plates, my uncle Domingo is a nerd of genealogical trees, and my husband is a nerd of miscellaneous and basically useless gadgets that occupy space and cost money.
I am a nerd of languages: by the age of 15 I had lived in 4 countries and spoke 4 languages fluently: Spanish, French, Portuguese and English. As a kid, I moved around the world with my family and had to learn languages by necessity: speak or die, type of thing.
Becoming a language nerd
But what started as a necessity turned into addiction by the time I reached adulthood and I couldn’t get enough of it. I was living in Europe and linguistic temptation was everywhere: Latin languages, Scandinavian languages, Slavic languages…I was like a kid in a candy store, how could I resist?
So I gave in and learned Italian in Italian. I told myself “just one more time”, but the desire consumed me day and night…I dreamed of languages in different languages and ear dropped in people’s conversations to figure out what language they were speaking.
What else could I learn? I had already learned some German at school too, but that wasn’t exotic enough. I needed more linguistic torture and I found my answer and moved to Taiwan to study Mandarin 24/7. I later moved to Shanghai and earned a well deserved upgrade from language nerd to proper freak. I didn’t get wifi at home for an entire year so that my only entertainment at home for 365 days would be local Chinese TV. It was pure torture (and not only linguistic), but deep down I enjoyed it.
My language addiction
3 years later, by the time I spoke Chinese fluently, I decided to move to Hong Kong but guess what…they speak a different type of Chinese here, Cantonese. I avoided learning the language for several years, ignoring the local taxi drivers and the ladies at the fruit market speaking in Cantonese. I managed to remain language sober for years, but one day I took a free trial session and I realised the language bug was here to stay.
I will admit I am a nerd, and I hope you find the nerd in you too, because once you do, you can do achieve things!