I only have one brain…

When I did my undergraduate degree, I took a minor in Soviet Studies. This means I took ten courses studying a nation that doesn’t exist anymore. But it could have been worse – I could have been a Classics major and taken 20 courses on nations that don’t exist anymore.

One of the benefits (?) was I took three years of university-level Russian language. But, given I had no opportunity to practice it, it’s pretty much gone from my brain, except for a few words and phrases. And I find that when I’m listening to someone speak Russian, every once in a while, a word or phrase jumps out. It’s kind of like the cocktail party effect; no matter how loud the room is, you can always hear your own name.

So, having not learnt my lesson about studying languages generally only spoken on the other side of the world, I’ve been taking a Japanese course this fall. One or two nights a week, I take my textbooks over to Starbucks and study for a few hours.

This afternoon, I was sitting outside in the nice warm sunshine, studying and drinking my cappuccino, when suddenly a large group of Russian people sat down at the table next to mine and started talking. And I suddenly discovered that I seem to only have one part of my brain that can handle foreign languages; I’d be merrily studying away, I would overhear one Russian word, and my brain would switch from Japanese to Russian.

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