Burned out and unfulfilled by my supposedly successful life, I looked for meaning in an entirely foreign set of words.

By Jennifer Crawford

Photo by Daniel von Appen on Unsplash

I took French in the seventh grade. I can still remember the name of my French teacher, Mrs. Buckley. She was a sweet and patient instructor who tried to pass on to a classroom of twelve-year-olds an interest and desire to learn her romantic native language.

It was easy for me to memorize words that were new, but they simply had no meaning for me at that time in my life. I grew up in a home…


When an audiologist confirmed that I’d lost a significant portion of my hearing comprehension, I decided to retrain my brain in a new language.

By Wayne Perry

Being from the southern United States, hospitality is a strong part of my heritage, and for me, being able to greet someone in their language is an important part of hospitality.

I started my language journey in Spanish because there are so many
Spanish-speaking people in our part of Alabama. Servers in Mexican restaurants and workers that I happened to meet in stores or on the streets appreciated my attempts to speak to them…


Some people are haunted by loved ones. I was haunted by the Spanish language.

By Marie A Bailey

I’ve been haunted by the Spanish language all my life. It’s like a friendly ghost that follows me around, remaining just out of reach while making its presence known.

I took Spanish language classes in high school, but I never truly learned much Spanish aside from a few basic phrases you were likely to hear in movies of the Old West. I never had the motivation beyond getting a passing grade to learn.

It’s not as though I didn’t have opportunities beyond…


Ever since the 19th century, Paris has been the ultimate city for the aimless stroller, or flâneur. Even today, walking with no destination in mind is the only way to stumble upon the secrets the city hides in plain sight.

By Matt Hormann

“A flâneur is a stroller, a loiterer, someone who ambles without apparent purpose but is secretly attuned to the history of the streets he walks — and is in covert search of adventure, aesthetic or erotic.” — Edmund White

The idea of the flâneur is peculiarly French — though it may appear scattered throughout several other cultures…


Finding the gumption within when grammar and vocab alone won’t save you.

By David Doochin

Only when you’re sitting in an Ethiopian restaurant with your friend in the Netherlands does it hit you that you’re a long, long way from home. That’s what I can say from my own experience, at least. I don’t know why the culture shock decided to hit me right then and there, but suddenly, the reality of being an outsider in a foreign context came crashing down on me. I felt dizzy, untethered. I felt uncomfortably alien.

Finding myself here was no mistake. I had…


The first time I tried to learn French, Reagan was president. And now, more than 30 years later, I’m dusting off my lessons again.

By Joe Capucini

I know what you’re going to ask, and I have two approaches to the question of whether any of this is triggering a sense of nostalgia or continuity with where I happened to be in my life at that time. Both of them are gonna start with yes.

Yes, of course I do, primarily because — and I beg your forgiveness for sounding like a cad — my French teacher was very attractive.


My name is Kristina Lachaga, ‘The Girl With The Big Pink Heart™.’ I’m a pop singer, songwriter, actress, and dancer, and soon, I’d like to be someone who can defy language barriers as well.

My name is Kristina Lachaga, “The Girl With The Big Pink Heart™.” I’m a pop singer, songwriter, actress, dancer, smoothie and bubble tea enthusiast, figure skating fan, frequent traveler (by car or plane or train or bus — you name the destination, I’m coming with), and language-learning lover.

Through my many adventures of following my heart’s dream (music, the love of my life), I’ve found that…


I traveled the world, was the first woman with a disability to pose for Playboy and started a successful consulting business. All of that is connected to how well I can take someone’s fried chicken order in French.

By Ellen Stohl

I started taking French when I was in high school — before taking it again for two years in college—but I never really learned how to have a conversation. I always wanted to learn a language more fluently, but I never seemed to have enough time or opportunities to use it. …


When I bought my flight to Croatia last fall, I had no idea I’d end up there at the height of the World Cup Finals.

By Taylor McIntyre

I booked my tickets for Croatia last November. I didn’t even know the World Cup was going on at the time, and yet I managed to end up in France for a layover at the end of the trip, when it was France versus Croatia in the final. I was in the airport at the time, but the mood there was super tense. Because it was a small flight, the gate agent…


When my DJing hobby became an international adventure, I realized music wasn’t the only language worth learning.

By Jason Weintraub (aka DiscoTwitter)

I got my start in New York DJing a friend’s birthday party. His best friend is a big-time DJ in Japan, and he asked me to come on his podcast. After that, they asked me to come on the radio over there in Osaka, and things kind of just snowballed after that. I’ve spent the past two years getting really involved and traveling to different countries and, you know, spreading all the disco goodness.

And it’s funny because…

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