This time I interviewed my good friend Kuba from Poland. He studies Hungarian Philology in Poznań and recently he got a scholarship to study the language in Budapest for a month. He also has a blog related to languages: LLL: Languages, Linguistics, Life.
I am really proud to have met him not once, but twice this year as he is a great guy. We talked to each other in Spanish, English and Polish and of course, I had to ask him later to give me some time and answer me some questions I am happy to share with you.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself? What is your main occupation?
My name’s Kuba and I come from Poland. I study there Hungarian Language (Hungarian Philology) at the university in Poznań, so I am mainly occupied with my passion, which is the best thing you can work with, to be honest! The general rule for my life is to do what you love and this is what I do. If it happens that I don’t and I don’t notice it at once, I work on this to let it go and learn to the full from those things.
How did you become involved with languages? Did anyone motivate you?
This story is a little bit knotty, because I may say I actually owe my passion to one girl I once talked to only through internet and now I don’t even remember her name, but my interest started when another hobby was put out (but didn’t disappear!). Firstly, in high school, I wanted to study Psychology and I’m not gonna go into details about how I gave up on this idea, but meanwhile I attended the Spanish class. I was good at this, I liked it, I wanted to learn more than the others. At that time, I talked to this girl, she woke up the spark of interest in me towards this direction. She asked: if you don’t know what to do, look around, why don’t you study Spanish at the university, for example? And the story begins… I thought, okay, Spanish, but I want to study something less popular. That day, I was sitting at my computer, I remember, I discovered Finnish, Mandarin Chinese, Burmese and many other languages. I drew up a list of languages I want to learn. If I remember well, the first version of this list is 24 languages to learn. So then I just started to learn, I grabbed a little bit of Mandarin Chinese, Czech, Esperanto, Portuguese, Swedish, German, Hawaiian and so on. Hence, I wouldn’t say someone motivated me. I think she just opened my mind to languages and I realized this is something what I want to do.
Have your family, loved ones and friends been supportive with your language interests?
To be honest – not really. If you have such a strong passion that takes you from the people that don’t have any kind of passion, they will only complain and they will not understand you. I know only a few people that I know about that they get the point. On the other hand, I don’t really need support, I just follow my path I found it’s mine, that’s all what I do.
I know you were studying in Hungary under a scholarship. How was your experience there? Can you tell me how were your classes and what did you do to apply?
I applied for Summer School in Budapest; that was a one-month scholarship and my teacher at the university helped me to complete all the documents.
I really liked the atmosphere there, because I was there to learn – surely, not like everyone. But I also met people there who, just like me, really wanted to learn this language. I got awesome teachers, really helpful people who answered every question and tried to deal with any problem we had. Additionally, we did a cultural program about literature, music, cinema and had a lot of excursions.
Did you ever face a hard moment while learning languages? How did you overcome it?
Hard moments appear when you do something wrong and when you push on yourself too much. That is, if you are too stricted, too planned, too organized. You may love learning languages, but don’t make the process of learning something you will hate. I was like this many times and this is also a very enriching moment when you realize you shouldn’t. There’s no universal rule, you cannot apply the same learning style every day, to all the languages you learn, in every moment in your life. You need breaks, breaks are okay. You need to know your goal, you need to know what you need now from this language. So if you struggle, just sit and think why.
What languages are you currently interested in right now? How do you practice them? What are your lifehacks for that language?
Now two main languages I practice are Hungarian and German. This is obviously because of my studies, but I still want to keep on with Spanish and English.
Now, after this scholarship in Hungary, I know I need a lot of speaking. I am seriously thinking about talking to myself.
German is another story, but the best thing I can do now with it is to go back to the basics.
Of course, I am not perfect in reading in Hungarian, but this is not the priority now – so once again, you should firstly notice what is your lack, your need and then focus on this.
Are you interested in a certain language that you know, more or less, you will not be able to learn it properly?
Should I really list every language in this world? 😛
I would love to learn a lot of them, some of them just to compare to the others, some of them to speak, some of them just to have fun. But that’s how passion works. However, if I was to choose only one language, I think I would choose Finnish.
Can you tell me a short, positive anecdote about your language learning history?
Sure, there’s one when I was with my family in Barcelona for the first time, just after one year of learning Spanish on my own. We were supposed to rent a car and so we took the bus to the office and I started to talk to this Catalan guy in Spanish, meanwhile my father asked me some questions, so at one point I felt like a real interpreter. But the funny thing was that I spent there approximately an hour, not because I couldn’t understand the Catalan guy, but only because of my father that couldn’t understand me. Wasn’t I speaking Polish to him? I don’t know, but the point is that I wouldn’t be able to communicate with this guy if I didn’t ask at the information desk about a simply thing – direction to the bus stop. A small step, but the crucial one to my further progress in Spanish.
Thank you Kuba for this interview! He also left this really cool quote:
Good days give you happiness, bad days give you experience, and the worst days give you the best lessons.