“A scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar.”
About a decade ago, an English professor asked me if I was fluent in HTML. I stared blankly at her, having no idea what those four letters meant, and answering the question as I would have if she had asked me if I could speak Russian, with a resounding ‘no’. If I had taken her advice and learned even a little bit of HTML when I was in my early 20s, I wouldn’t have been so petrified as I was when I went to the w3schools website for the assignment for this class.
I have always been afraid of failing, especially when I am forced out of my comfort zone. I know what I’m good at, and I stick to those things, because they make me feel comfortable and reinforce that I can, indeed, do some things right. Upon entering my PhD this year, though, I’ve decided to cast my fears of failing aside. This does not mean that I’m going to jump out of airplanes or perform in The Nutcracker, it simply means that I’m going to try to push myself a little bit further into my discomfort zones.
I always joke, when people ask me why I’m a monolingual Canadian (“don’t they teach you French in school?”) that I never got much past “Bonjour”. Thing is, I’m genuinely uncomfortable with the thought process that goes along with speaking in another language. My brain doesn’t seem to compute English into anything, especially verbally. To get myself past this I decided to put my best efforts into learning two new languages: Spanish and HTML.
The desire to learn Spanish has come out of a number of experiences working with the great people over at the CulturePlex at UWO. I’ve worked in their lab and also attended conferences which were organized by this team led by Juan Luis Suarez. I immediately feel out of place at these functions because the majority of people speak Spanish and I don’t even know how to greet them with anything other than an uneasy grin. When one of these students, who had just arrived in Canada, was looking to learn colloquial English in return for basic Spanish lessons, it was game on!
The HTML experience is part of the course for which this blog was originally designed. We were asked to go through the w3schools tutorial for HTML and then create a webpage that functions much like a CV (with contact information, interests, past experiences, etc) using the skills we just read about. The following chart is a comparison of my first experiences with these two languages, complete with most embarrassing moments.