Les Petits Contes

About life's little observations, which matter. About hilarious situations, which illuminate. About stories which offer immense possibilities, open endings, different interpretations and perspectives.

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Location: Singapore

A nature lover; sun-worshipper, manic book-collector, dessert-devourer and a magnet for hazards

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why do I bother ?

Yesterday I took the Level 2 CELI Exams (Certificazione della lingua italiana), administered by the prestigious University for Foreigners Perugia (http://www.unistrapg.it/english/) – where I had been awarded a one-month scholarship to study Italian in November 2005.

I took up Italian in August 2004. By now I should be taking higher level exams, Level 3 or 4 at least. (there are 5 levels). But excuses (like busy, work commitment, business travels, etc) slowed down my progress.

The CELI is like your Cambridge-administered GCE A levels, only this time it’s at University level, and is pretty tough. (Also, the certification is aligned with the Common European Framework of Modern Languages - http://eltj.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/60/2/181) I should know – after 4 years of study, days of annual leave to revise at home, stress/ worries by my Italian teacher as she prepared me, and thousands of dollars, I almost submitted a blank paper for the listening comprehension section yesterday.

Many people have asked me why I bother. The more polite ones use the word ‘’passion’’. (maybe they use the words ‘’mad’’ or ‘’stupid’’ behind me). The usual questions from girls is whether it’s because I have an Italian boyfriend. And my usual reply is ‘’if I do, body language is more than enough and more sexy; I don’t need to waste money, time and agony).

And yesterday, for once in my life, when the difficult exams frustrated me, I did question ‘’why’’. Why? After all I have always maintained that French is easier, more romantic and definitely more poetic (this is my personal opinion – I know of others who dispute this). It’s even more useful, given the organizations I have been working for and also the bigger number of French speakers in the world. Why? I don’t need it for my work and certainly I won’t get promoted if I have the certification. My MA in Communications didn’t give me any added advantage in my career, unlike an INSEAD MBA which is so valuable.

So why? Because I like to torture myself? Because I like to waste time and money? Someone even said once like it’s because I like to show off.

I honestly believe it’s none of the above. It’s just ME. I like to study languages – no, you don’t have to believe me and yes you can call me a lunatic. When I met an Israeli recently I tired him out during dinner just comparing Hebrew and other languages that we know. And yes I like to do things ‘’properly’’ like a Singaporean – seriously, and with a certification. When I pretend to be smart and rationalize with people who question me, I tell them it’s because it can help me get a job (translation, salesgirl, street vendor, whatever) when I am broke and have to migrate to Italy/ Europe (ya – maybe one day I will be broke and migrate and can’t find a decent job – not necessarily in that order…)

But for now, just let me be me, and stop questioning.


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