Learning Spanish for 100 days and counting
I'm excited to announce that I've done something most people only dream of.... I reached a 100 day streak on Duolingo!! Yes, I clicked that daunting "I'm committed" button. I let that little green bird guilt trip and threaten me into learning Spanish, and it was well worth it! Honestly, I had hoped my life would be like a cute movie montage where I'd be able to write this whole blog post in Spanish by the 100th day, but let's be realistic here. One hundred days only gets me to knowing office supplies, describing family members and where they live. Nonetheless, I am so proud of myself! Like picking up crochet, learning a new language has been such a fun activity that has allowed me to create a better moment for myself.
Now, you might be wondering, "Why learn a new language?" "Why keep a 100 day streak?" Well, there's two parts to that answer:
I broke a bigger goal into a smaller step.
I wanted to learn how to be more consistent.
Take small steps towards a bigger goal
One of the most annoying things to me is having big dreams and goals without the current means or knowledge to make them happen. Perhaps, this is a sign I need to exercise my patience more, but often when I don't know how to achieve a bigger goal, I start to feel stuck. Feeling stuck is a burden that can weigh heavily on a person, to the point that you don't even want to pursue the goal anymore. I expressed this frustration to my therapist, and she told me that sometimes we have to break up our big goals into smaller steps. "What can you do today that will help you achieve your goal later?" I swear, my common sense could've told me this, but when you're going through it, sometimes you have to be reminded of such revelations. She assigned an exercise where I listed out my big goals, then told me to work backwards to smaller steps I could do today.
That brings us to why you're here reading about my Duolingo journey. One of my big goals, and dream self-care activities, is to travel more. However, airfare, housing, transportation, food and excursions add up. And if you remember, I'm currently a budget baddie. My bank account is still recovering from how expensive LA is and all these strikes. While doing my exercise, I decided that one small step I can take towards my travel goal is to learn a new language. Maybe it's the inner anthropologist in me, but I've always believed knowing the native language of the country you're visiting heightens your travel experience.
I've always admired polyglots. How cool is it to know multiple languages? I studied French in school and wanted to brush up my skills eventually, but since I have tried and failed at learning Spanish since childhood, I wanted to use my newfound determination to finally accomplish this goal. Most of my best friends from kindergarten to now are Spanish speakers, and I've always wanted to communicate better with their moms and family, who graciously welcomed me into their homes over the years. I also saw that my college friend, Cristina, recently used Duolingo to learn French, and she was speaking in full sentences! I thought, "Bet, Cristina is low-key my twin. If she can do it, so can I!"
Consistency is key
I now had the passion and inspiration to finally get serious about learning Spanish, but I knew there was something I've always lacked that ultimately led to my Duolingo demise: Consistency. This is a skill every person needs, and I'll bet, one we all struggle with. Whether it's applying to jobs, eating healthier and going to the gym, or starting a blog, consistency is the skill that can make or break your endeavor. It's also what's required to keep up a streak. Sure, I could just casually study Spanish on my Duolingo app when I have the time, but I made the goal to keep a streak for 100 days because I knew it would force me to learn how to be consistent, which will come in handy for so many future projects and goals. "If I can be consistent with this for 100 days, I can be consistent with anything!"
I'll be honest. It wasn't easy! Like any start to a resolution or goal, the first few weeks I was all about it! I was excited to do my little lesson plans, and I had Cristina sending me congrats and Duolingo gifts along the way. I was feeling good, but as time kept going, and life kept lifing, it became more difficult. Rather than starting my day with a lesson, I would frantically remember to do it at 11pm at night! On weekends, (fins de semana - woo I know that word in Spanish lol) I would have to schedule in my Duolingo lesson before plans with friends, or I knew I would forget and ruin my streak. It definitely took some planning and commitment to remember to do a lesson everyday, but as I continued, I started to find a rhythm. I found a routine.
Every dog owner knows you have to take your little buddy out for their exercise and potty breaks, and usually your fur baby is picky as all heck, so you'll be out there bored, waiting for them to be done. This was the perfect time to complete my daily Duolingo lesson! I already had a routine in place for Momo's midday potty break and walking adventure, so I just added on to that to easily create a new routine for myself.
Self-Improvement Tip: If you are trying to be consistent in a new area, or make a new routine for a new activity, if possible, tack it on to a routine you already have! It's much easier to add to an existing routine, than creating a new one from scratch.
Another mini tip, in regard to grief, having a routine helps bring stability back to your life, especially when you're a work-from-home freelancer. Keeping up with my Duolingo streak gave me at least one productive task I had to do daily, when work was slow/non-existent. This ultimately helped me not feel so stuck and stagnant.
So, shout-out to my green bird bud, Duo, for not only helping me consistently learn Spanish, but for also helping me learn how to be more consistent, break my big goals into smaller steps, for bringing some stability back into my life, and for being a fun, new activity to help me along my grief journey. I'm happy to report that I'm writing this post with a current streak of 125 days! I also added Japanese and Arabic to my language-learning routine. I'm a polyglot in the making, fam! I shall leave this post with a little paragraph showcasing my Spanish skills thus far. Enjoy! (lol)
¡Hola amigos! Me llamo Christine. Aprendo a hablar y escribir español. Yo trabajo en la casa con mi perro pequeño, Momiji. ¡Él es muy bonito! Vivo en una ciudad grande, Los Angeles. Vivo aquí, pero soy de Texas. Hoy me siento feliz. Hoy es viernes, ¡el fin de semana! Yo no quiero trabajar hoy, pero necesito dinero. Jaja ¡adiós!
Translation: Hello friends! My name is Christine! I learn to speak and write Spanish. I work at home with my little dog, Momiji. He is very cute! I live in a big city, Los Angeles. I live here, but I am from Texas. I feel happy today. Today is Friday, the weekend! I don't want to work today, but I need money. Haha bye!